Merk argiewe: Norwich

Norwich season preview: Daniel Farke leans on savvy approach in bid for Premier league survival

Norwich season preview: Daniel Farke leans on savvy approach in bid for Premier league survival
The Canaries, back as Championship title winners, have spent lavishly after boosting their accounts with the sale of Emi Buendia to Aston Villa

Last season

Norwich City put a demoralising campaign in 2019-20 behind them by storming back to the Premier League in winning the Championship. Daniel Farke and his squad licked their wounds last summer, displaying immense maturity and mental resilience after a 10-game losing streak condemned them to 20th place and a meagre 21 points – 14 points adrift of survival.

Ben Godfrey departed for Everton, but crucially Emi Buendia remained, inspiring a table-topping campaign, six clear of runners-up Watford and a further four points ahead of third-placed Brentford, who also emerged from the play-offs to join them in the Premier League. Beyond Buendia’s craft and vision, Teemu Pukki’s 26 Championship goals proved invaluable, and the Finn’s 11 Premier League goals two seasons ago provide further encouragement that Farke can use those lessons from 2019-20 to inspire survival this term.

Transfer window so far

The loss of Buendia was a blow, but the Argentine’s pivotal role in guiding the Canaries back was an unexpected bonus given interest last summer. Norwich have used the £35m from Aston Villa to bolster the squad. Milot Rashica (£10m) and Josh Sargent (£8.5m) arrive from Werder Bremen, while Ben Gibson joins permanently from Burnley for a little over £8m after a fine loan spell. Dimitrios Giannoulis (£6.75m), converts his loan from PAOK into a permanent move, with Pierre Lees Melous (£5.4m), from Nice, strengthening Norwich at the back and Angus Gunn (£5.25m) joining from Southampton. Perhaps the most eye-catching signing though comes in the shape of Chelsea starlet Billy Gilmour, with the Blues trusting Farke to enhance the Scot’s development and showcase his ability as one of the best young passing midfielders in Europe.

Pierre Lees-Melou celebrates with teammate Billy Gilmour

Bestuurder

Farke has evolved as a coach from the possession-based style boldly emphasised during their relegation campaign. Norwich are now better equipped to impose themselves with added strength and athleticism across the pitch and a deeper squad to endure the gruelling test across the season. Seen as “the Man City of the Championship” by Luton boss Nathan Jones, Norwich will continue to showcase a more adventurous brand of football, as detailed by Farke’s reluctance to accept 17th place by next summer, and instead shooting higher. And with the club’s backing via a four-year contract extension, Farke ought to demonstrate his appetite to refine his approach. Norwich’s sporting director Stuart Webber is learning from past mistakes when he famously announced that he had sent Farke “to war without a gun” after the lack of investment in 2019. So with Norwich primed to break through £50m in spending, the German boss can go toe to toe with the league’s other gunslingers – well, once they’ve come through a ferociously difficult opening four fixtures.

Key player

Gilmour. Playing with immense personality already in pre-season, while taking set-pieces, the Scot will hope to display his class on the big stage with regular starts at Carrow Road after proving his worth at Euro 2020 against England.

What would be success?

Simply put? Survival. No matter what Farke says, to have learned from the past and escape relegation, while absorbing the loss of one of their best players would be nothing short of a big success.

Predicted first XI

Krul; Aarons, Hanley, Gibson, Giannoulis; Gilmour, Lees-Melou; Rashica, Dowell, Cantwell; Pukki.

First three Premier League fixtures

(h) v Liverpool, Saturday August 14, 5.30pm

(a) v Man City, Saturday August 21, 3pm

(h) v Leicester, Saturday August 28, 3pm

Bookies’ ranking

19th (1,500/1 for the title; 10/11 joint-favourites for relegation with Watford).