Top-flight years: When Project Restart became a non-starter for City
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
In the final instalment of our top-flight years series, Mark Armstrong looks back on the last time Norwich City graced the Premier League in the 2019/20 season
After what was an unexpected promotion with such style, hopes were high City could ride that momentum to establish themselves in the Premier League under Daniel Farke.
Summer transfer business was a little underwhelming as the club decided to invest in the talent they had by tying down their prized assets to long term contracts.
Patrick Roberts was brought in from Manchester City on a season long loan as well as Ibrahim Amadou and Ralph Fahrmann from Sevilla and Schalke respectively. Farke used his German connections again to take a chance on Josip Drmic, who arrived from Borussia Moenchengladbach on a free transfer, as the Swiss striker was brought in to lighten the loan on star man Teemu Pukki.
City were brought down to earth with a bump on the opening night of the Premier League season as they were thumped 4-1 by Champions League holders Liverpool at Anfield. However, the Canaries earned plaudits for their fearless display, which reaped dividends in their first match at Carrow Road with Pukki hitting a hat-trick in a 3-1 win over Newcastle.
Norwich were gaining admirers for their fluid displays although their propensity to make mistakes at the back was costing them dear even at this early stage as Chelsea emerged with a 3-2 win thanks to Mason Mount’s second half winner.
- 1 Chris Goreham: The red warning light is on for Farke and Norwich City
- 2 City Q&A - with Paddy Davitt
- 3 Injury blow for Norwich City loanee
- 4 Six things you might have missed after City's sixth successive defeat
- 5 Lee Payne: I don't know if Norwich City can break this yo-yo cycle
- 6 RECAP: City's U23s beaten in seven goal thriller at the Walks
- 7 Sargent signing is a 'master stroke'
- 8 Townsend reveals Krul spot kick 'mind games'
- 9 City boss not relying on 'credit in the bank'
- 10 Reader letter: How Roy Hodgson can save Norwich City
City were also worryingly running out of centre halves by the time they came away from the London Stadium. Already without Timm Klose and Grant Hanley, they then also lost Christoph Zimmermann, who was the victim of a poor challenge from Sebastien Haller. To add salt into the wound the striker was also on target in the Hammers’ 2-0 win.
It certainly didn’t do much for morale amongst the City fanbase, who grew concerned at just how many champions Manchester City might rack up against their side in the next game. However, Norwich produced one of their most outstanding displays of recent memory to down Pep Guardiola’s men with the kind of all-action display that had become the hallmark of this Farke vintage.
It would prove to be the high point of the season though and supporters would have to wait another 17 Premier League games before they tasted that winning feeling again, a 1-0 win over Bournemouth in January as Teemu Pukki’s penalty separated the two sides.
The defeats continued to flow though although Jamal Lewis’ 70th minute winner at home to Leicester City in February gave fans hope of avoiding the drop. It would prove to be a pivotal moment for other reasons though as it was the last game to be played in front of a full Carrow Road before the season was suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Football returned to Carrow Road in very different circumstances in June behind closed doors with Southampton the visitors. It was clear from the very off that the lack of a crowd took away any natural advantage Norwich needed and they were outclassed by Southampton in a 3-0 defeat. It would prove to be a painful period for City, who scored just one goal throughout Project Restart – Emi Buendia’s opener at Vicarage Road before Watford responded and took the points in a 2-1 win.
The final match at Manchester City demonstrated just how far out of their depth Norwich had become as the Citizens swept to a 5-0 win.
Sporting director Stuart Webber would later admit they sent Farke “to war without a gun” in terms of arming the German with a squad capable of avoiding relegation. Time will tell whether lessons have been learned in the forthcoming campaign.
FA Cup heroics
City fans had at least enjoyed what had become very unfamiliar territory for a number of years – an FA Cup run. Adam Idah had announced himself to the City faithful with a hat-trick in the 4-2 win over Preston in the third round before goals from Grant Hanley and Josip Drmic helped see off Burnley.
Tim Krul was then the hero as his penalty saving expertise came to the fore against Tottenham after the two sides had fought out a 1-1 draw. However, City’s run would end against Manchester United during Project Restart as Harry Maguire struck when penalties loomed again after a Todd Cantwell strike had cancelled out Odion Ighalo’s opener and forced extra time.