Fönstret är stängt och äntligen är det dags att inleda säsongen 2019/202 på allvar. Ligapremiären går av stapeln på Anfield under fredagskvällen och det är nykomlingen Norwich som kommer på besök. Det var några år sedan vi senast ställdes mot det här motståndet, så för att få en inblick i vad vi har att vänta oss kontaktade vi Gary Gowers(@Gary_Gowers), som bland annat driver sidan @NorwichCityMFW. Det här är vad han hade att berätta:
1. Its been a few years since Norwich played in the Premier League, Can you tell us a bit about the years in the Championship?
We were last in the PL in 2015/16 and it all went a bit wrong, hence the few years in the Championship you describe. Two disastrous transfer windows that season cost us multi-millions, saddled us with long-term debt but didn’t improve us! So, we ended up back in the Championship with a squad that had a horrible, undeserving sense of entitlement, who were on bloated, undeserved contracts and who didn’t perform. That first season back was awful, we failed miserably to get even close to the playoffs and, before the end of the season, manager Alex Neil was sacked.
Then the masterstroke. Delia and Michael (our owners) approved a new structure and in came Stuart Webber, from Huddersfield, as sporting director. He, in turn, appointed Daniel Farke as head coach and a largely German coaching team, and over that next season, which was lukewarm on the pitch, they gradually implemented a new ethos, structure and culture that has ultimately got us to where we are today.
And it all came together last season. A squad made up of academy players, misfits from across Europe and a couple of older heads was moulded into a cohesive unit that played some of the most beautiful, measured football most of us have ever seen at Carrow Road. The rest, as they say, is history.
2. How would you describe the club today? Are the owners doing a good job?
They’ve had their critics over the years, me among them, over their reticence to allow any external funding into the club – and there were times when it was crying out for some – but they’ve ridden out several storms and now have the club run on a self-financing basis. I think we’re the only club in the PL without owners who pump millions into the club so in many ways it’s self-financing through necessity, but at the moment it’s working. The club is financially sound, for now, and is in a good place.
3. How would you describe the way that Norwich play? Do you think you will change anything in your style from last season?
It’s the ’beautiful game’ – Farke’s take on tiki-taka, which sees the ball played patiently through the thirds and with bursts of pace and oomph in the final third. And before anyone says it, we’re acutely aware that it’s one thing to play it in the Championship and quite another to successfully use it in the Premier League. They’ll still pass the ball though and there’ll be no bus-parking, but it will need tweaking to make us less vulnerable to the counter-attack. We rely heavily on our full-backs joining in in the final third but they will have to be far more measured and selective over when they go this season.
4. Which players will be most important for you this season?
Teemu Pukki lit the Championship up with his goals last season – he was its top scorer – so it goes without saying that we need him firing on all cylinders again. It’s not just his goals but also his work rate and the way he links up play. Our little Argentinian, Emi Buendia will be important too as he’s so often the creative spark.
5. How do you rate your transfer summer so far?
Most of the league will look and our business so far and smirk, given that we’ve spent so little in relative terms, but we’re really happy. Most of the available money was used to tie those who got us to the PL on long-term contracts but have studiously brought in five new faces in areas we either needed to strengthen or needed cover. The final one, Ibrahim Amadou was an important one, as we desperately needed strengthening in the defensive midfield area. So yeah, by our standards a good window.
6. What are your expectations on the team this season?
We’re confident we can surprise a few, particularly with the style of football we play, but equally, we’re under no illusions over the size of the task ahead. We’ve already been written off by most pundits and experts but we think we have enough to stay up and hopefully build from there. Would be awesome to see some of these experts choke on their humble pie next May.
7. You are going to Anfield in your first game, how do you think you will lineup and what kind of game do you expect?
Always, tricky to predict a lineup on opening night, but I’ll take a stab at Krul; Aarons, Hanley, Godfrey, Lewis; Trybull McLean; Buendia, Stiepermann, Cantwell; Pukki
Well, to put it bluntly, we expect a bum-squeaker. We’re confident we can have a good season, we’re less confident about that good season starting in game 1. But, we’ll see. Farke will make sure they’re organised and they head to Anfield without fear. Much will depend on our ability, or otherwise, to play around or through Klopp’s famous high press. If we can’t…