Recent history suggests Canaries can bounce back from double blow
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Can Norwich City bounce back from two disappointments in less than a week? Chris Lakey looks at the evidence which suggests they can
No one said it would be easy – least of all Canaries boss Daniel Farke.
Defeat to Swansea a week ago might be a fire starter - the loss of the long-held top spot in the Championship on Wednesday to Brentford an additional kick up the backside, a wake-up call, or even a reminder for anyone who might just have become a wee bit complacent and in romp mode that there is still a long way to go in the promotion race.
Two kicks where it hurts in less than a week.
There is evidence, though, that City, under Farke, know how to react in the best possible way. It comes nice and recently – back in the 2018-19 season as City returned to the top flight.
The joy of another East Anglian derby win over Ipswich was fresh in the memory when City went to Preston. The Canaries had lost just once in their previous 19 Championship games and a trip to Deepdale to meet former boss Alex Neil wasn’t likely to be the most difficult of games. Tough, because they all are, but winnable, drawable, and on a bad day, losable. Which is what they did. Neil came out on top after a 3-1 win and City were reminded that things were not over by a long way. It was February 13, 2019.
City were knocked off top spot by Leeds, but this was by no means a two-horse race – Sheffield United weren’t far behind. Then there was West Brom, Bristol City and Middlesbrough – all within touching distance.
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Today, it’s Swansea, Watford and Reading.
City needed to bounce back, and so they did, with a 4-0 thrashing of Bolton. Okay, so the only team below Wanderers were Ipswich, but that’s not important. City did it in style, that was important.
"It was the perfect response," said Farke.
Then came the kick-start bit – the win at Bolton was the first of eight in a row for the Canaries, the last one another 4-0 win, over QPR.
That was followed by four draws and the two wins to wrap up the season – and a place in the top flight.
Of those four draws, City had to dig deep. Two very late goals wasn’t enough against Reading, who ended up being even later to celebrate and taking away a point in a 2-2 draw. The following two games were tough: Teemu Pukki’s 81st-minute goal at Wigan earned a point while Mario Vrancic began his late goal heroics with a 90th-minute equaliser at home to Sheffield Wednesday.
That teed up the final home game of the season, when the win over Blackburn sealed promotion and the final game when the win at Aston Villa – thanks to another late Vrancic goal – sealed the title.
Was it all down to that midweek trip to Preston? A long way to go and come away empty-handed. Just like Swansea seven days ago?
And those late goals – always a sure sign of a team desperate for points, for good reason.
So what now for City? Well, Stoke will be in their sights as their ‘Bolton away’ and then another 17 to negotiate.
The remaining games see City face four of the current top six, all at home, although how much of an advantage home games are is debatable given the absence of supporters.
The last time City were promoted, two years ago, their last 18 games yielded 12 wins, five draws and that one defeat, at Preston – a total of 41 points, which would take their total to 96.
In the last 10 seasons, the average points needed to top the table has been 92.9.
The stats are fine, it’s human nature no one can account for: but if City bounce back like they did two years ago, then you’d fancy them to be in with a very big shout.
Top six contests to come
Brentford: Norwich (a), Watford (h), Bournemouth (a)
Norwich: Brentford (h), Watford (h), Reading (h), Bournemouth (h)
Swansea: Watford (a), Reading (a)
Watford: Swansea (h), Brentford (a), Norwich (a), Reading (h), Bournemouth (a)
Reading: Swansea (h), Norwich (a), Watford (a)
Bournemouth: Brentford (h), Swansea (h), Norwich (a), Watford (h)
Last 10 Championship winners’ points totals
2019-20: Leeds 93
2018-19: City 94
2017-18: Wolves 99
2016-17: Newcastle 94
2015-16: Burnley 93
2014-15: Bournemouth 90
2013-14: Leicester 102
2012-13: Cardiff 87
2011-12: Reading 89
2010-11: QPR 88