Norwich joined the elite of English football for a third time in 2011 under the guidance of Paul Lambert, who had taken the club from the lower reaches of League 1 to the Premier League in under two years. The club’s meteoric rise had earned them plaudits around the football world, but understandably, saw them favourites for the drop in their first season back in the big time.
Lambert stuck to his transfer policy of nabbing hungry players from the lower leagues in preparation for the season, and brought in the likes of Anthony Pilkington, Elliott Bennett, Bradley Johnson and Steve Morison from Huddersfield, Brighton, Leeds and Millwall respectively. These lower league stars were completely unproven in the Premier League, and many thought that Norwich were merely boosting their ranks for a return to the Championship the following Season, but in spite of having just three players with Premier League experience come the opening day of the season, the City squad had other ideas.
It took Norwich Four premier league games to grab their first win, away to Bolton Wanderers, and with brave performances through October and November against the likes of Man United and Liverpool, capped with wins against the other promoted teams Swansea and QPR, Norwich were doing okay. However, it was their form in the first two months of 2012 that saw them propelled to relative comfort in mid-table. Norwich won 4 of their first 6 games in 2012 and stole a brilliant point from Chelsea in that time too. Norwich were bolstered by the signings of Ryan Bennett and Jonny Howson from the Championship (Peterborough and Leeds), and looked certain to stay in the league.
Norwich’s dip in form came in around March. They lost games against Stoke, Newcastle and Fulham and only managed to pick up a point against lowly Wigan. Norwich managed to pick up a crucial win against Wolves before going on to kick on in April with a brilliant point against Everton and stunning win away to Spurs. Norwich were all but safe, and well out of a thrilling relegation battle.
Norwich lost games against Liverpool and Man City, before a disappointing loss to Blackburn, but regained form towards the very end of the season with a thrilling point in a 3-3 draw with Arsenal at the Emirates and a 2-0 win over Villa on the final day. Norwich finished 12th, a stunning achievement on a shoestring budget, and one they will look to recreate next season in what proves to be another exhilarating Premier League.
Highlights of the Season:
Grant Holt’s Anfield equaliser: Holty comes off the bench to grab a point for the Canaries and prove that Norwich are here to compete, even with the big boys.
The 4-2 win over Newcastle: A depleted Newcastle back-line was punished by a brilliant Norwich strike force.
3-3 at Arsenal: A battling display saw Norwich grab a point late on through a Steve Morison equaliser.
2-1 away at Spurs: Probably the most impressive win of the season away at Spurs, and a brilliant performance from all quarters.
The final day: A 2-0 victory against Aston Villa and a fitting end to a brilliant season.
Lowlight of the Season:
Losing 5-1 and 6-1 to Man City: Outclassed and outmaneuvered in both games, the Blue side of Manchester reminded the Norwich faithful that there are times in this league where you just get punished.