Norwich City: a review of 2020 ... highs and lows
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Norwich City experienced just about everything during 2020 - CHRIS LAKEY looks back on the year
Whisper it, but while the league was still a problem, the FA Cup was offering some comfort.
VAR helped Palace to a point on the opening day of the year, while City bounced back from a thumping at Old Trafford to beat Bournemouth at Carrow Road, although the manner of the 2-1 defeat at Spurs hurt, with Heung-min Son scoring a very fortunate winner.
In the FA Cup, Adam Idah scored an excellent hat-trick in the third round win at Preston before Burnley were despatched at Turf Moor, Josip Drmic with the winner.
The transfer window saw City bring in Lukas Rupp, Ondrej Duda (loan), Sam McCallum and Melvin Sitti. Rupp is still here, Duda wasn’t a huge hit, McCallum was loaned straight back to Coventry and Sitti, signed from Sochaux, is on loan in Belgium at Waasland-Beveren. Out went James Husband to Blackpool and Dennis Srbeny to Paderborn. A dozen other players went on loan around the country.
Norwich 1 Crystal Palace 1
- 1 Farke linked with Bundesliga vacancy
- 2 'That's the bottom line' - Dowell clear on his City priorities
- 3 Ian Clarke: Seven reasons why Norwich City will survive in top flight
- 4 Can City seal just their third Carrow Road promotion?
- 5 Another goal for Drmic - could City striker earn Euros recall?
- 6 Iwan Roberts: My one regret over Canaries' 2004 promotion
- 7 Transfer rumour: Everton unsure about price tag for City star
- 8 'We want to correct what happened' - City ace on top-flight aims
- 9 Connor Southwell: Why Emi Buendia must be crowned City's Player of the Season
- 10 Paddy Davitt: 'Little old Norwich' tag is a poor fit
(FA Cup 3) Preston 2 Norwich 4
Manchester Utd 4 Norwich 0
Norwich 1 Bournemouth 0
Spurs 2 Norwich 1
(FA Cup 4) Burnley 1 Norwich 2
Another four-point haul, which wasn’t going to be enough to remain in the top flight. The draw at Newcastle could have been a win, but Teemu Pukki missed a number of decent chances. Then came the traditional defeat by Liverpool, although the champions-elect didn’t have it all their own way before Sadio Mane’s late winner. Wolves away was poor, but the Leicester win was excellent – and the last time Carrow Road played host to a full house.
PL Newcastle 0 Norwich 0
Norwich 0 Liverpool 1
Wolves 3 Norwich 0
Norwich 1 Leicester 0
The cup run continued, with a shootout win at Tottenham, thanks to two spot-kick saves from Tim Krul (courtesy of the infamous water bottle) as City reached the quarter-finals for the first time in 28 years.
The loss at Bramall Lane signalled the end of hostilities as lockdown was imposed as the coronavirus pandemic took over our lives.
(FA Cup 5) Tottenham 1 Norwich 1
(City win on penalties)
Sheffield United 1 Norwich 0
And so began a barren month... or two. We were left with wrangling over how the season should be played out, if it could, and if not, how the ups and downs were to be decided. Whichever way was settled upon, City looked doomed – that particular hole was too deep to escape from. The least edifying part of it was the financial side: not the clubs losing money, but the suggestion that it was the lucrative TV deals rather than common sense which were behind the return of the Premier League. Money talked.
The beginning of City’s troubles. Two home defeats, in front of empty stands as players struggled to get used to life under lockdown. The FA Cup dream also ended, at home to United. Life was tough – and not getting any easier. Christoph Zimmermann, Grant Hanley and Sam Byram were all ruled out of the restart by injury.
Norwich 0 Southampton 3
Norwich 0 Everton 1
FA CUP: Norwich 1 Man Utd 2
If the writing was on the wall, then someone turned a spotlight on it as all eyes were on City’s demise. Liverpool were romping to the title, but City’s spineless collapse was proving a fascinating sideshow. How could a team contrive to lose 10 games in a row, seven of them in just one month? City became the first team to suffer a fifth relegation from the top flight.
Tim Krul received the Barry Butler Memorial Trophy as Player of the Season – the fifth keeper to win the award after Kevin Keelan, Chris Woods, Bryan Gunn and Andy Marshall.
Arsenal 4 Norwich 0
Norwich 0 Brighton 1
Watford 2 Norwich 1
Norwich 0 West Ham 4
Chelsea 1 Norwich 0
Norwich 0 Burnley 2
Man City 5 Norwich 0
Time for a rebuild. The summer transfer window had opened on July 27 and would close on October 5, because of the effects of the pandemic. City turned down a £10m bid from Liverpool for Jamal Lewis. As it turned out, it looked suspiciously like a transfer ploy to kickstart another deal. Xavi Quintilla came in on loan, Jordan Hugill was signed from West Ham for £2.6m, midfielder Oliver Skipp signed a loan deal from Spurs. More were to follow.
The new season opened with an EFL Cup tie and a standard defeat at Luton, new signing Kieran Dowell getting City’s goal, while the league campaign started with a win at Huddersfield, courtesy of Adam Idah. City were behind twice in the home draw with Preston before a defeat at Bournemouth – a game which saw Emi Buendia and Todd Cantwell omitted by Daniel Farke because of their standards and mentality in training. The Preston game was a ’test event’ with 1,000 fans allowed inside the ground – the first spectators since Leicester in March.
AC Milan, Roma and, most eye-catching, Barcelona, were all linked with Max Aarons. Barca’s was real. City said no, social media (outside of Norwich) went a bit mad, but no one at this end was being taken for a ride to Spain. Jamal Lewis completed a £15m move to Newcastle. Ben Gibson came in on loan from Burnley.
EFL CUP: Luton 3 Norwich 1
Huddersfield 0 Norwich 1
Norwich 2 Preston 2
Bournemouth 1 Norwich 0
A case of along came Norwich as Wayne Rooney’s free-kick gave struggling Derby a surprise win, but then City won four of the next five, Mario Vrancic leading the way in the ‘late goals a speciality’ stakes.
The transfer window was still open and Ben Godfrey went to Everton for £25m, while Timm Klose and Tom Trybull went on loan to Basel and Blackburn respectively.
Norwich 0 Derby 1
Rotherham 1 Norwich 2
Norwich 1 Birmingham 0
Norwich 2 Wycombe 1
Brentford 1 Norwich 1
Bristol City 1 Norwich 3
An unbeaten month, with three wins and two draws, as City edged up the table, without really turning on the style. Emi Buendia scored the opener at Stoke and set up one of Teemu Pukki’s two goals but with City 3-0 up, the Argentine was sent off and City were forced to hang on for the win. Lurking in the background were remaining injury problems which had plagued Farke for weeks. There was another blow too, as keeper Tim Krul went off injured.
Norwich 0 Millwall 0
Norwich 1 Swansea 0
Middlesbrough 0 Norwich 1
Stoke 2 Norwich 3
Norwich 1 Coventry 1
Another defeat at Luton ended a run of 10 games without defeat, but City made up for it with five wins on the bounce before the Boxing Day defeat at Watford. Teemu Pukki scored both goals at Blackburn, cracking the half century mark in his 100th appearance for the Canaries.
It was a month of eight games, continuing a punishing schedule which has seen players suffering injuries and fatigue – as feared and predicted by Daniel Farke.
Luton 3 Norwich 1
Norwich 2 Sheff Wed 1
Norwich 2 Nottm Forest 1
Blackburn 1 Norwich 2
Reading 1 Norwich 2
Norwich 2 Cardiff 0
Watford 1 Norwich 0
Norwich 1 QPR 1