EFL experts assess City’s chances of Championship success
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Ahead of Norwich City’s Championship assault, Connor Southwell caught up with EFL content creators Benjamin Bloom and Gabriel Sutton to assess the Canaries’ chances of success.
The Championship has become revered for the excitement it is able to create.
A VAR-less, drama-filled division that any purist will watch with enthusiasm and excitement, but that is only felt by supporters when their respective team is doing well.
So much of the discourse after promotion to the Premier League revolves around how sizable a step up in quality it is to bridge - as Norwich City discovered themselves last season.
But very little is made of how few teams get it right after relegation. Beyond famous examples like Burnley and now Fulham, only a handful of sides have successfully bounced back at the first attempt.
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The Championship doesn’t care about reputation - Leeds United, Aston Villa and Newcastle United are amongst its recent competitors.
Even now, Nottingham Forest, a club synonymous with the success of Brian Clough, find themselves entrapped in the division.
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The Canaries cannot assume that their name and the ability of their squad will be enough to guarantee success, as Alex Neil discovered in the 2016/17 season.
It isn’t just City that have fallen victim to the brutality of the second division; currently, seven of its bottom 12 appeared in the top flight in the last seven years - none has managed to return to the Premier League.
In the cases of Huddersfield Town, Middlesbrough, Stoke City and Hull City, the demise has been rapid.
According to EFL expert Gabriel Sutton, Daniel Farke’s leadership skills will be pivotal to ensure the Canaries don’t suffer the same fate next season.
“I think it’s really important that after relegation that there’s strong leadership in place,” he said.
“It’s going to be really interesting what we see from Daniel Farke. There’s question marks over the leadership where Norwich City are losing but Daniel Farke is very composed on the touchline.
“In the interest of balance, that was the same during the title-winning season when a goal would go in and you could see the emotion within him, but he held it in.
“He tried to stay on an even keel and after a run of 10 straight defeats, the big question is can he show the leadership qualities and get a reaction out of his players and I’m excited to see how he does.”
Of those clubs who have struggled since relegation to the Championship, several have encountered difficulty with ownership or have seen the holder of the reins changed at the top of their club.
City’s stability with Delia Smith and Michael Wynn Jones could stand them in good stead next season.
“Owners relegate clubs, particularly from the Championship,” Benjamin Bloom said. “Huddersfield struggled - well, they changed ownership and spent their parachute payments.
“Swansea - I think Graham Potter and Steve Cooper combined with some good sales have bailed their American owners out because they haven’t invested any money.
“What I’m saying is, if you come down with stable ownership, a plan and two years of parachute payments then you should okay.”
Despite a poor Premier League offering from the Canaries, they have laid the foundations for a Championship promotion push, according to the experts.
“They’re coming down in a darn sight stronger position. It’s a complete 180 from where they were at the end of Daniel Farke’s first season,” Bloom said.
“If they score 95 points again this season then everyone will say ‘well done, Mr Webber. Very clever’ but if they’re ninth in the league and the league is predominantly pragmatic teams at the top then everyone will say they should have spent some money.
“I don’t think we should be criticising a club that has sorted out its finances, got promoted and not gambled, but are now in a very strong position whereby only some very poor operational decisions now would mean they are anywhere outside the top three or four.”
Despite expectations being high following relegation, FootballLab creator Sutton believes Canaries supporters should be cautiously optimistic with their aspirations.
“I’ve got a feeling that if Norwich are in the seventh to 10th range for much of the season but are playing good football, I still think the club will see it as getting towards where they want to be.
“I think they will be in the mix for promotion but I’m not confident they’ll be right up there in the top two. I think it could be more of a play-off push but it could change depending on who they bring in,” Sutton believes.