The Canaries return to the top flight with a promising young manager in tow. Here's how they'll fare...
Canaries fans will be feeling optimistic after returning to the Premier League at the first time of asking with Sir Alex at the helm. The majority of the squad remains the same as that which survived under Chris Hughton in 2012/13 before plummeting to play in the Championship last season. Although the only purchases so far have been Youssouf Mulumbu, Graham Dorrans and Robbie Brady, they add to the solid core that Neil inherited when he took over last January. More goals will be needed if the Yellows are to avoid immediate relegation, and so the likes of Nathan Redmond and Cameron Jerome will need to up their games.
What the fan says
Canaries blogger Gary Gowers gives FourFourTwo his thoughts on the upcoming 2015/16 Premier League season.
Why they'll do well
The Alex Neil success story continues and Norwich flourish, with Ricky van Wolfswinkel turning his career around following a decent loan spell at Saint-Etienne as City grind out the wins at Carrow Road. Maybe. Last season the Yellows were able to find the net from a variety of sources, with Jerome, Redmond, Bradley Johnson and Gary Hooper all registering strikes with regularity. Norwich also maintain an experienced nucleus to the side, with Seb Bassong, John Ruddy, Johnson, Mulumbu and Brady all possessing the knowhow at this level to frustrate more illustrious opponents. While Neil – the youngest gaffer in the league (just 34) – tests himself at his highest level of football yet, he has successfully met every challenge that he’s faced so far and could prove to be the next great Scottish boss to do well in England’s top division.
Why they'll do badly
The squad hasn’t drastically increased in size while rivals such as Watford, Bournemouth, and even teams like Sunderland, have invested in their playing staff. There’s still plenty of time but Neil must be frustrated at the club’s inability to add to the squad and integrate them into the dressing room. “The frustrating part is more the fact of having to wait on others, because we have done what we can do: we have made offers, we have spoken to teams, to players and clubs, it is just about trying to get things over the line,” said Neil as Norwich look to find men who will make a real difference – after unwise spending largely led to their relegation two years ago and did for Hughton. If things don’t go to plan, will the City fans retain faith in the former Hamilton boss, and more importantly will the board, who dispensed with Hughton late in the day last time around and promoted academy coach Neil Adams?
The big questions...
1) Is this the season Redmond takes to the Premier League?
For Norwich to do well they’ll need England U21 winger Redmond to improve his game. Six goals from 22 matches last season was a decent haul for the wideman and he’ll be expected to continue his year-on-year improvement with the Canaries once again in 2015/16.
- Graham Dorrans (WBA)
- Youssouf Mulumbu (WBA)
- Robbie Brady (Hull)
- Cameron McGeehan (Luton Town)
- Mark Bunn (Aston Villa)
- Javier Garrido (Released)
- Carlos Cuellar (Released)
- Luciano Becchio (Belgrano)
2) What’s Plan B if things go wrong?
Norwich only lost three games from January 9 onwards following Neil’s appointment as they secured promotion via the play-offs. If they find themselves behind against teams like Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester City, how will they try to affect the game? Will there be a change in tactics if last season’s 4-2-3-1 doesn’t get results?
3) Where are the youth players?
When Adams was appointed as manager in April 2014 it looked like a good way of integrating Norwich’s 2012/13 Youth Cup-winning talent into the team. The pressure of promotion and instant results has stunted the starlets’ progress, however, though Jacob and Josh Murphy could be set for more first-team action in the year ahead.
Key player: Cameron Jerome
The former Stoke frontman played a key role for Norwich last term, holding the ball up and offering himself as a willing outlet while grabbing 21 goals from 45 games throughout 2014/15. Although yet to fully convince at the top level, if he continues to lead the line for City then chances will come his way and he may well be eyeing that first home game of the season against former club Crystal Palace as the ideal way to kick off the campaign. With further good service from Jonny Howson and Wes Hoolahan, this could be a key season for Jerome.
What we'll be saying come May
Plucky Norwich came so close to surviving, going down on the final day unhelped by that celebrity fan outburst towards the end of the season…
To see where FourFourTwo think Liverpool will finish – along with a bespoke two-page preview – get our special new season issue, which will be out soon.