Zimmermann identifies key issue Canaries must work on to avoid relegation hangover

Christoph Zimmermann has not featured for Norwich since a narrow 1-0 home loss to Liverpool in Febru

Christoph Zimmermann has not featured for Norwich since a narrow 1-0 home loss to Liverpool in February Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Norwich City will have to be mentally ready for the Championship challenge if they are to avoid a punishing relegation hangover.

With relegation now a certainty – a point hammered home at Chelsea on Tuesday night when City lost 1-0 – plans are in full swing for the new season after an ignominious end to their tilt at top-flight survival.

But injured defender Christoph Zimmermann has warned that a season mixing with the big boys is no guarantee of a swift return.

“I think just because we come down from the Premier League it doesn’t guarantee you are one of the favourites to earn promotion again,” said Zimmermann, who has missed much of the season because of injury. “You have some examples like with Fulham when they went down or West Brom when they went down, they were fighting for promotion, or at least for the play-offs straight away, but then you have got Stoke and Huddersfield who are struggling.

“So I think for us we need to hopefully keep the core group of the team together and also that we get our heads right and get our heads around it as quickly as possible. This time it is going to be a very quick turnaround, just a couple of weeks until the start of the new season and I think just, yes, physically you need to be ready for it but also mentally. I think this may be more important to be in the right position to start again.”

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City head coach Daniel Farke has come under criticism, particularly for the inability to tighten up a porous defence – and Zimmermann says there can be few counter-arguments.

“I think to be fair if we are in the position we are in, everybody has the right to criticise us and to question if we have done the right things,” said Zimmermann, talking to BT Sport.

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“If you have 21 points it is a poor outcome. I think we have no grounds to say anything different. The question is, should we have done something different, could we have done something different? In a way, yes, but in other ways we are rather limited. Half of our centre-backs were injured through the season and it was hard to change much so we were limited in personnel terms.”

The German had to drop out of contention due to back and hamstring problems ahead of the season resuming in June but is due to resume full training soon.

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