Connor Southwell: City’s season begins but questions remain
PUBLISHED: 06:00 05 September 2020
The new season is upon us, but still there are plenty of questions to be answered prior to Norwich City’s opening fixture at Huddersfield Town...
Why have Norwich City spent money in this window when they didn’t last season?
There will be pockets of supporters questioning why City have suddenly opted to outlay transfer fees on new talent.
But, investment in their infrastructure and, as Daniel Farke would say, paying for their past sins, has left them in a relatively comfortable position despite the coronavirus pandemic.
The economic side of it is clear, the reward of making the Premier League and the three years of parachute payments has left them in a financially stable position – but sales will be the primary driver of revenue – but they don’t need to depart with their top talent.
The house is in order – the infrastructure is built. If City need inspiration, then Burnley’s relegation from the Premier League in 2015 saw them conduct themselves in a similar fashion.
Burnley invested in their infrastructure and spent shrewdly, even selling Kieran Trippier, Danny Ings and Jason Shackell after relegation.
But they brought in Championship nous and claimed the title before establishing themselves in the top flight under Sean Dyche. City will be hoping to follow a similar path.
Is Daniel Farke the happiest head coach in the Championship?
Stuart Webber demanded that criticism of the Canaries top-flight performance was pushed in his direction, claiming Farke didn’t possess the necessary tools to construct a side capable of survival.
Ben Gibson’s arrival would make it 11 for the summer and increase the Canaries number of first-team options to 33.
With increased transfer fees and added depth comes expectation – so Farke may be content with his options, but now he has the headache of putting together the pieces to create another promotion-winning City side.
He bemoaned in January the lack of competition within the squad – but City have packed out their first team and Farke has enough depth to field a strong squad in today’s League Cup tie despite 17 players being unavailable.
Keeping those members of his squad on the periphery onside is going to be tough, especially if they decide not to significantly trim their squad.
How do City trim the squad from here?
Farke has admitted in the past that his preference is working with a reduced number of players.
As mentioned, managing 33 first-team players is going to present challenge and difficulty, especially for the togetherness in the squad.
City’s boss is one who enjoys continuity and won’t tinker needlessly.
Josip Drmic, Moritz Leitner and Tom Trybull have already been informed their futures are away from the club, but those sales would still mean a bloated squad of 30 players.
The loan market will be pivotal – but City will need to recoup some of their outlay thus far in the window.
As it stands, City have six full-backs, which graphically illustrates the bloated nature of their squad. But their buy before sell policy means that any offers that do arrive can be meticulously considered, and on their terms.
But that only becomes a savvy policy if they manage to reduce the numbers in their squad.
Who starts up front at Huddersfield Town?
Jordan Hugill is presented with the perfect opportunity to stake his claim for a starting berth with a positive performance against Luton Town.
Pukki’s sharpness seems to have returned, but Hugill could help ease the burden on the Finn.
The need to possess a high-goal scoring striker is one of footballs greatest myths – City need to share the goals around in a better way than they managed in the Premier League.
If Hugill can produce a significant output, then the reality is Pukki won’t need to replicate the 29-goal haul he managed in the Championship season previously.
Can Hugill adapt to the Canaries and can City adapt to Hugill? Well, that’s an entirely different question on its own.