Football Season Review

№18: Norwich City

Norwich are back in the Championship after three years in the Premier League as a poor season reached its logical completion. Chris Hughton failed to wind the hearts of the fans in his first season in charge but at least he got the job done and kept the team up. The hopes for the season ahead were that the team will go onto the next level and aim for the upper half of the table after spending some serious money on exciting players like Ricky van Wolfswinkel, Leroy Fer and Gary Hooper. It was a mostly mediocre start of the season as the side lost three of the first five games and offered little change in approach compared to last season. Hughton clearly seemed to lack vision and ability to change games from the dugout and he stuck to his system with one lone striker and a more attacking midfielder behind him. Yet, things were about to get worse as heavy defeats away at to Arsenal and Manchester City in the space of a couple of weeks, conceding 11 goals in just two games, shook the confidence of the players. The defence, apart from these defensive disasters, was actually doing a decent job in most games and the real problem lied up front. Van Wolswinkel scored a goal on the opening day of the season but then, incredibly, went without another one for the remainder of the campaign despite having ample playing time. Hooped proved slightly more successful but his goals dried up halfway up the season too. Therefore, the goals were really not coming from anywhere and only the wingers, Nathan Redmond and Robert Snodgrass, were proving attacking impetus and inspiration. There was a slight upturn in results after the Manchester City defeat, winning three games in five, and that was enough to keep the team clear of the bottom three for the time being. But the issues remained and there was clear fans’ discontent at the drab football played. There were no significant transfers during January and Hughton continued to look short of ideas and bravery as Norwich continued to hover too close to the bottom three for comfort. Yet, their form at home was steady and they went on a pretty decent run in the first few months of 2014. However, costly defeats to West Ham, Cardiff and Aston Villa on the road kept them very much in danger. The pressure started to rise on Hughton with murmurs of his sacking but wins at home to Tottenham and Sunderland gave him a stay of execution. However, a costly 1:0 loss at home to West Brom in March proved the last straw and the Irishman was let go. Neil Adams, an academy coach with no first-team managerial experience, took charge for the final five games and failed to address the issues at hand. The team remained just as drab and lacking in spirit while their very tough run-in in the final few weeks left them with no real chance to get many points. Thus, they were eventually relegated on the last day of the season and no one at the club can say that it was not coming. It was a bad season at all levels but Adams is staying on for next season in the Championship and will try to prove his worth by winning immediate promotion.

Player of the Season: Martin Olsson