Iwan Roberts: Norwich’s inability to beat fellow strugglers proved to be a crucial issue

A familiar sight as Norwich players see another goal go into the back of their net Picture: Paul Che

A familiar sight as Norwich players see another goal go into the back of their net Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

At the beginning of the 2019-20 season I had four former clubs in the Premier League.

Now, sadly, after both Norwich and Watford were relegated, I’ve only got two – Wolves and Leicester.

It’s officially been the longest season on record, but I’m glad we managed to get it finished and I’ll be glad to see the back of the 2019-20 campaign – as I’m sure everyone else will.

The lads went down with a whimper in the end, and even though attacking wise they looked better against Manchester City last Sunday, they still didn’t manage to find the back of the net.

I still find it hard to believe that a team that scored 93 goals the previous season (albeit in the Championship) managed to score just a paltry 26 goals in their 38 games, scoring just seven goals away from home (a Premier League record they really didn’t want).

Kenny McLean after the 5-1 mauling by Aston Villa at Carrow Road in October Picture: Paul Chesterton

Kenny McLean after the 5-1 mauling by Aston Villa at Carrow Road in October Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

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Yes, we will always have great memories of that Manchester City game back in September, which seems a lifetime ago now. It was one of the best days I’ve ever had down at Carrow Road as a player or spectator, but sadly those days this season have been few and far between.

It’s fantastic winning three points against the likes of Manchester City and picking up valuable points at Carrow Road against Arsenal and Spurs, but points against the big clubs in the Premier League are normally a bonus, and not necessarily the ones that will determine whether you stay up. You have to win points against those teams in the bottom half of the table, especially those in the bottom six or seven. Unfortunately, Norwich didn’t get anywhere near enough from those “six-pointers”.

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In their 18 games against teams in the bottom half, Norwich won just 11 points and that’s obviously the reason they finished bottom of the league.

Watford, Aston Villa, West Ham, Brighton and Southampton all managed to do the double over Norwich. Crystal Palace, who lost seven of their last eight games, took four points from Daniel Farke’s men. Four of the 11 points Norwich won against the bottom-half teams came against Bournemouth, who also ended up being relegated after a five-year stint in the top flight.

My former club Leicester missed out on securing Champions League football for what would have been only the second time in their history after defeat to Manchester United on the final day. They will no doubt look back at the four points the Norwich took off them and wonder, what if?

The lads will now have a few weeks off and hopefully when they come back for a mini pre-season in mid-August they will be fully focused on the job in hand, which will be trying to win promotion at the first time of asking.

Some of the lads will not be returning. Having had a taste of playing in the Premier League they will want some more, and if they don’t want to be here to fight, battle and roll their sleeves up to get this club back where it belongs, then it’s better that they move on. If someone doesn’t want to be here and believes the grass is greener elsewhere then get rid – but only if the club’s valuation is met.

As we’ve seen already this week, the club’s been busy bringing in new faces for their promotion challenge. It’s great to see them being proactive in making new signings, giving the new lads more time to settle and adjust, and I’m positive there will be more in the next few weeks.

Stuart Webber was the first to admit that mistakes have been made, and that recruitment had been poor this season. It looks like he’s determined for history not to repeat itself. It’s all about being honest and learning from experience, which Stuart undoubtedly is.

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