Top-flight years: The season Norwich City attacked the Premier League

ncfc v liverpool 1 may 1993

Ian Crook evades Jamie Redknapp during City's 1-0 win over Liverpool. - Credit: Archant

Mike Walker’s first season in charge at Norwich City would prove to be a memorable one as the Canaries stormed the Premier League in 1992/93. Mark Armstrong reports 

All change 

After the disappointing way the previous campaign ended, which culminated in Dave Stringer’s exit as manager, the Canaries needed a new direction. 

Mike Walker was handed his opportunity after being in charge of the club’s youth team and he would go on to preside over one of the greatest periods in the club’s history. 

ncfc v arsenal 3 mar 1993

Mark Robins shields the ball away from Andy Linighan during a 1-1 draw at Carrow Road. - Credit: Archant

Many worried that losing last season’s top goalscorer in Robert Fleck would have a catastrophic effect. However, in signing Mark Robins from Manchester United, they found an able replacement and Walker’s commitment to younger players like Ruel Fox and Chris Sutton perfectly complimented the experience of players like Ian Crook, Mark Bowen and Ian Culverhouse. 

The blend gave rise to an exciting team that appeared to have the first Premier League title within their grasp at Christmas time before settling for third place and a Uefa Cup place. 

Story of the season 

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At half-time on the opening day, it looked like Norwich were merely continuing the poor form they ended the previous campaign with. Goals from Steve Bould and Kevin Campbell had put Arsenal 2-0 up at Highbury but Walker’s decision to bring on Robins in the 58th minute changed the course of City’s season. 

Robins scored 10 minutes after coming on before David Phillips equalised. Ruel Fox put City in front and the incredible turnaround was complete when Robins got his second of the afternoon. 

Norwich went on to lose just once in their opening 10 games and cries of ‘we are top of the league’ echoed around Carrow Road after a 1-0 win over Southampton – Robins netting an 87th minute winner. 

Norwich were eight points clear at the top following a 2-1 win over Wimbledon - Robins and Phillips getting the goals – but they then went on a sticky spell in December with a six-match winless run. 

By mid-February Norwich had slipped six points behind the pace but by the end of March Norwich were back at the summit. 

ncfc v liverpool 1 may 1993

Efan Ekoku in action during Norwich City's 1-0 win over Liverpool at Carrow Road. - Credit: Archant

Billed as a title showdown, Manchester United arrived in Norfolk on April 5 and proceeded to blow City away in the first half thanks to goals from Ryan Giggs, Andrei Kanchelskis and Eric Cantona. Robins pulled one back in the second half but the race for the title was over as far as Norwich were concerned, especially as four days later they were hammered 5-1 at Tottenham. 

Norwich would go on to finish an impressive third though, albeit with a negative goal difference. 

Europe bound 

Despite Norwich’s third-placed finish it wasn’t enough to guarantee their spot in the Uefa Cup initially. They had to wait to see if Arsenal could win the FA Cup and secure a place in the Cup Winners’ Cup. They would then vacate the place they had won through their League Cup win. 

NCFC 1 vs 0 Aston Villa, 24/03/1993 Photo: Archant Library

Ruel Fox takes a shot on goal during City's 1-0 win over Aston Villa. - Credit: Archant Library

Former Norwich defender Andy Linighan was the hero as his headed winner in the replay beat Sheffield Wednesday 2-1 after extra time. 

Norwich’s first European adventure was confirmed. 

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