A deep sigh of relief was exhaled by all Norwich supporters following their penultimate game of the season. For even the most hardened of Canary fans, the last few weeks of the season must have been traumatic to say the least. For despite a finishing place of 11th, higher than under the leadership of Paul Lambert, serious questions were beginning to be asked about the security of the club in the Premier League. This would seem odd perhaps, considering a season that has led to wins over Man City, Arsenal, Manchester United and Everton. Indeed, from the outside looking in, a casual glance would see a club in good health.
However, look a little deeper, and the statistics tell you a very different story. Norwich City lost four of their first seven games, drawing the other three. Of their last twenty-one games, Norwich lost ten and drew seven, picking up only four wins, two of those coming in their final two games. Since the New Year, Norwich scored only eighteen goals, working out at one goal a game. When considering that these stats include a 4-0 win against West Brom and a surprise 2-3 win at Man City, certain things seem to become apparent. Perhaps most prominent is this, a ten match streak sandwiched in the middle of their season (which must be said, now appears to be the exception rather than rule), saved their season.
That in itself is not a bad thing. The ‘Second Season Syndrome’ might be a cliché, but that does not mean it is not true. Norwich do now have a certain sense of security, however now is also the time that they must look to push on. Wigan, it can be said, struggled to do that, and had been stuck in a ‘relegation battle purgatory’ until their final departure at the end of this season. What can be said of Norwich’s squad, is that it lacks two things. Firstly, any truly stand out talent, although it could be argued that Hoolahan is becoming very close to that, as is Robert Snodgrass. Secondly and most importantly, a squad of any depth at all. While a tight squad of over achieving players is seemingly enough to last in the Premier League once securely, and once perilously, it cannot be relied upon to last for a third. The signing of Ricky van Wolfswinkel from Sporting Lisbon is an important landmark for Norwich. With at least twenty goals in both his previous seasons at Lisbon, he is a proven goalscorer, something which Norwich vitally need.
If signings such as this can be followed by an attacking midfielder, and in fact a little more depth across midfield, Norwich can look to thrive in the Premier League. Failure to spend now though, could see Norwich struggle for a third season. And this time, they might not be so lucky.