Norwich will be playing Premier League football again next season after beating Blackburn 2-1 at Carrow Road on Saturday night.
Here, Press Association Sport’s Jim van Wijk takes a look at five reasons why the Canaries might just ruffle a few feathers on their return to the top flight.
It was very much a case of ‘Daniel who?’ when Norwich appointed unheralded German Daniel Farke as the new head coach and eventual successor to Alex Neil in May 2017. Indeed the jury remained out on the former SV Lippstadt 08 and Borussia Dortmund II boss following an underwhelming first campaign in England, finishing 14th, which was followed by a sluggish start this season.
However, slowly but surely Farke’s intensive pressing game has been adopted by a young, hungry side which produced some of the most attractive football in the Championship.
Tougher tactical tests, of course, will await when Farke goes up against the experienced campaigners of the Premier League – but taking a leaf out of the manual of another former Dortmund coach on how to go about it might not be a bad place to start.
Stuart Webber, appointed as Norwich’s first sporting director in April 2017 after leaving Huddersfield, has helped oversee a restructuring at the Norfolk club and the continued drive for self-sustainability behind the scenes.
Backed by majority shareholders Delia Smith and her husband Michael Wynn-Jones, the board heavily invested in improvements at the club’s training ground and Academy, which helped bring through the likes of Josh Murphy and James Maddison, both sold last summer to help balance the books.
As well as careful transfer dealings, developing more homegrown talent will be needed to keep the Canaries moving forwards – as will the faith of the head coach to reward them with first-team opportunities.
Buendia set for Pukki party
The influence of Argentinian playmaker Emi Buendia has been just as crucial to Norwich’s promotion push as the 28 goals of Finland frontman Teemu Pukki – a free transfer who ended up the Championship Player of the Season.
Buendia, signed from Getafe last summer for just £1.5million, appears tailor-made for the Premier League, with a bag of tricks ready to help unlock those stubborn defences.
However, the 22-year-old will also have to master his temperament under the spotlight. A needless red card against QPR deprived Norwich of one of their key men for three crucial games over the run-in – all of which Farke’s side failed to win.
Young Canaries ready to soar
What a feeling🙌🏽delighted to be awarded Young Player Of The Year. Can’t thank everyone who voted and people who have been part of the journey enough! Congrats to the boys Teemu and Jamal well🤘🏽❤️some big weeks coming up⚽️ @NorwichCityFCpic.twitter.com/HShe2qLukZ— Max Aarons (@maxaarons2) April 7, 2019
Full-back Max Aarons, who turned 19 in January, has been one of the star turns of Farke’s team and was voted the EFL’s Young Player of the Season.
Northern Ireland international Jamal Lewis is another who will relish the chance to impress on the big stage while Ben Godfrey, also 21, has formed a solid partnership with captain Christoph Zimmermann at the heart of the Norwich defence.
Keeping the likes of Sergio Aguero, Sadio Mane, Raheem Sterling, Mo Salah and Harry Kane quiet, though, will provide a major step-up in challenge but one the youngsters are sure to all tackle head on.
A city (and county) united
Norwich may be a long way from anywhere, but the Yellow Army have again travelled in numbers following the team cross country – some 5,000 supporters made the 250-mile journey up to Wigan for a 12pm Sunday kick-off, many having set off from Norfolk in the early hours.
However, as Huddersfield will testify, having a hardened following on the road offers no guarantees of Premier League sustainability.
Farke, though, continued to flag up the impact of Norwich’s own ‘Yellow Wall’ for his side over their promotion campaign.
With what is set to be facing them week in and week out on the pitch next season, you suspect the players will welcome all the help they can get.
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