Farke finally wins as City clean up at EFL Awards
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Daniel Farke has finally received the recognition he deserves, as Norwich City dominated the EFL Awards in the same style they have dominated the Championship this season.
Not only did Emi Buendia win Championship Player of the Season at Thursday night’s ceremony but the Canaries also had four players in the divisional Team of the Season, with Farke chosen as the best manager.
It brings an end to an odd succession of snubs that have left City fans perplexed, as Farke has been nominated for Manager of the Month in each of the last six months but just pipped to the prize on each occasion.
Oddly, despite having just led Norwich to a second promotion to the Premier League in three campaigns, the German has only won Manager of the Month once before, in November 2018.
He was also beaten to Manager of the Season by Sheffield United boss Chris Wilder in 2018 despite City beating the Blades to the title – although those awards were held with six games remaining.
This year the ceremony was held with just two matches left to play and the Canaries, who have topped the table for much of the season, are already promoted and know that one more win will make sure of another title regardless of Watford’s results.
Farke has become just the second manager to lead Norwich to two promotions to the top flight, matching Ken Brown’s achievements of the 1980s. He is on the verge of becoming the first City boss to win the second-tier title twice though.
It was Buendia taking the top prize though, just a few hours after it had been revealed that he'd been voted Player of the Season by Canaries fans as well.
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The creative maestro’s 14 goals and 16 assists from 37 matches gave him the edge over City team-mate Teemu Pukki and the division’s 29-goal top scorer, Brentford striker Ivan Toney, who were also on the shortlist.
The Argentine will hope to follow in the footsteps of winners in recent years including Ollie Watkins (Brentford in 2020), Patrick Bamford (Middlesbrough in 2015) and Danny Ings (Burnley in 2014), who have all gone on to prove themselves as Premier League players eventually.
Pukki had won that award two years ago as his goals fired Norwich to their title success, with 25 so far this season enough to earn the Finland icon another nomination.
Buendia and Pukki were both named in the Championship Team of the Season and were joined by Canaries team-mates Grant Hanley and Max Aarons – with Pukki and Aarons having also been included in the divisional team in 2019 alongside Jamal Lewis.
England Under-21 international Aarons couldn’t repeat his Young Player of the Season success though, with the 20-year-old nominated alongside Blackburn’s on-loan Liverpool winger Harvey Elliott and Reading attacking midfielder Michael Olise.
It was 19-year-old Olise taking the prestigious prize, previously won by players including Gareth Bale and Wilfried Zaha, thanks to six goals and 10 assists during his breakthrough season for the Royals.
There was also a Canaries legend in the running for an award, with Wes Hoolahan nominated for League Two Player of the Season at 38 years old, for his part in Cambridge United’s promotion push.
Hoolahan was named in the fourth tier's Team of the Season, thanks to five goals and eight assists in 32 games, but missed out on the individual award to his team-mate Paul Mullin with the striker having scored 29 goals so far.
The former Ireland international scored 54 goals in 352 games for Norwich between 2008 and 2018, and was named in the Team of the Decade at the EFL Awards in 2015.
The ceremony was held in the Sky Sports studios with winners joining via video calls to accept their awards, due to Covid-19 restrictions.
It was decided that all 72 clubs would share the Community Project of the Year award, for their collective work during the pandemic.