Norwich down but not out if they stick with squad and keep coach Neil
Jamie Clark, Sports Editor | May 15, 2016
Norwich City’s immediate relegation from the Premier League can hardly be called surprising when it took them winning the 2015 Championship play-offs to make the top-flight again.
The Norfolk outfit are becoming a yo-yo team, much like Sunderland and West Bromwich Albion have been in recent years.
At 10/3 with Coral to bounce straight back with promotion, the Canaries remain a curious provincial club that often relies upon its remoteness from other footballing hotbeds to post strong home form.
Here’s why Norwich look well-equipped to do what those above odds suggest…
Disappointment can be motivating
Although the plight at Carrow Road caused chief executive David McNally to resign, there are no need for similar sacrifices elsewhere at the club.
Nobody came across as more disappointed that the Canaries didn’t stay up than head coach Alex Neil, but for a boss so young to have achieved so much in such a short managerial career already speaks volumes about him.
Relegation may sting now, but the bitter disappointment can be used as fuel to ensure Neil remains hungry to better himself. This equally applies to the players too.
Balls with ringing endorsement
What Neil offers has certainly not escaped the notice of Norwich chairman Ed Balls. “Alex Neil is one of the best young managers in British football,” said the former Shadow Chancellor. “He’s got our 100 per cent support in the coming months as we deal for next season.
“But [losing McNally has] clearly been messy. When there’s speculation all over the place, the board has to stand back and ask what’s happened and what’s our responsibility?”
Keeping the squad and boss together is among the main charges for the Canaries hierarchy here. You’ve only got to look at Burnley, who immediately bounced back from their Premier League relegation, to see the value of that.
Departures are inevitable
It would be naive to think, however, that there won’t be some player losses this summer. Star winger Nathan Redmond is the one that other clubs will come in for.
Going down will also make it difficult for the Canaries to retain on-loan top scorer Dieumerci Mbokani, who aged 30 will want to continue playing at the highest level.
Winter window signings and defensive duo Timm Klose and Ivo Pinto are in the same bracket as DR Congo frontman Mbokani. As neither have improved Norwich’s rearguard record, little to no sleep should be lost over them making swift exits from Carrow Road.
It’s a similar story with other Canaries loanees Andre Wisdom and Patrick Bamford – two young homegrown talents that have seen their respective careers stall because of injuries.
Making the case for either having long-term futures at Liverpool and Chelsea is tough, but they will also feel they can do better than second-tier football by remaining with Norwich.
Tie Tettey down to new deal
One player that the Norfolk outfit need to retain, however, is anchorman Alexander Tettey. The Norway international midfielder is something of a cult hero, and the club have an option of extending his Canaries stay for another year.
Ghanaian-born Tettey missing the last 10 games of the campaign through injury will have had an adverse effect, and the impact he made over the festive period was considerable with winning goals against Manchester United and Southampton.
Although good for a booking, all-action Tetty is Norwich vice-captain and has made well over 100 appearances since arriving in Norfolk in 2012. With veteran engine room operator Gary O’Neil out of contact, keeping other experience in this key area is essential.
Hoolahan saga shows there is hope
Playmaker Wes Hoolahan is pretty much part of the furniture at Carrow Road, and is going through an incredible sixth change of English league division with the Canaries. In that time, since signing in 2008, he has seen real highs and lows.
Republic of Ireland international Hoolahan just embodies the club’s recent history. Norwich have known the agony of three relegations, but also the ecstasy of as many promotions in those eight years.
If you don’t think football is fluid anymore, then the Canaries are compelling evidence of the contrary. Hoolahan’s experience also says that Norwich had endured this before and bounced back, so there is no reason to suppose they cannot do so again.
Like fellow members of the spine of this side – John Ruddy, Russell Martin, Jonny Howson and Cameron Jerome – Hoolahan is a proven Championship performer, and it is at that level which they excel. The Championship title cannot be ruled out, with Norwich 9/1 chances to lift it next season.