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Norwich on course for immediate Prem return - Interview
Monday, 28th Dec 2020 11:18 by Clive Whittingham

Norwich City lead the Championship at the halfway stage and with a long injury list clearing up are well placed to bounce back (sorry) to the Premier League at the first time of asking according to Eastern Daily Press and Pink 'Un reporter Connor Southwell.

How has Norwich's season been so far?

It’s been good. It doesn’t really feel like they’ve moved out of second gear yet, which is a really deadly prospect for their opponents. This is a different Norwich side to the one that won the title two years ago, this is a side which is effective rather than aesthetically pleasing - there is a bigger emphasis on small margins. In a nutshell, they’ve had too much quality for the vast majority of teams. There are still defensive vulnerabilities but that is the trade off Daniel Farke makes by pushing his full-backs high. They’re top at Christmas, will be top heading into 2021, all is well in Norfolk from a footballing perspective.

Norwich league results so far…
Huddersfield 0 Norwich 1 Idah 80
Norwich 2 Preston 2 Pukki 31, Placheta 85 – Sinclair pen 14, Fisher 42
Bournemouth 1 Norwich 0 Groeneveld 35
Norwich 0 Derby 1 Rooney 87
Rotherham 1 Norwich 2 ladapo 3 – Iheakwe og 68, Hugill pen 90
Norwich 1 Birmingham 0 Vrancic 87
Norwich 2 Wycombe 1 Pukki 3, Vrancic 90 – Kashket 12
Brentford 1 Norwich 1 Toney 27 – McClean 87
Bristol City 1 Norwich 3 Hunt 15 – Pukki 6, 14, Buendia 45
Norwich 0 Millwall 0
Norwich 1 Swansea 0 Stiepermann 87
Boro 0 Norwich 1 Pukki pen 72
Stoke 2 Norwich 3 Campbell 69, Collins 79 – Buendia 18, Pukki 27, 57
Norwich 1 Coventry 1 Vrancic pen 27 – Biamou 89
Luton 3 Norwich 1 Moncur 15, Pearson 22, Collins pen 47 – Buendia pen 19
Norwich 2 Sheff Wed 1 Martin 81, Aarons 84 – Windass 60
Norwich 2 Forest 1 Sorensen 45, Buendia 77 – Knockaert 73
Blackburn 1 Norwich 2 Elliott 59 – Pukki 22, 65
Reading 1 Norwich 2 Olise 14 - Buendia 11, Pukki pen 55
Norwich 2 Cardiff 0 Buendia 27, Cantwell 70
Watford 1 Norwich 0 Sarr 39

Fair to say you're just getting the job done rather than playing particularly brilliantly?

I’d say that’s a fair assessment. Nobody has really had a thumping from Norwich yet, although it does feel only a matter of time before it happens. What has happened is symmetrical to what they faced in the Premier League last season. The game is tight and then they just up their level for a 10-20 minute spell which is enough to score the crucial goal and win the game. Even though we’re talking about effectiveness, they are still playing some excellent football. I think expectations, teams setting up more pragmatically and the schedule are holding them back slightly.

Any word on potential January ins and outs?

I think it will be a quiet January, to be completely honest. In terms of incomings, the plan is to bring in a new left-back on loan. Xavi Quintilla, who was a loan signing from Villarreal in the summer, had problems with injuries and shown he can’t really be trusted physically. Sam McCallum is out on loan at Coventry and playing the highest standard of football in his career under a coach they admire and trust. So they will dip their toe in the market. A shortlist of five players has been passed to Stuart Webber and Daniel Farke.

The other situation is outs. Holding onto Emi Buendia in particular would be a miraculous achievement. He’s the best player in the league and could play for the vast majority of top sides in European football. A quiet window would be preferable for everyone involved given the antics of the summer one.

Summer Ins >>> Jordan Hugill, 28, CF, West Ham, £2.97m >>> Przemyslaw Placheta, 22, CM, Slask Wroclaw, £2.7m >>> Kieran Dowell, 22, AM, Everton, £1.98m >>> Jacob Lungi Sorensen, 22, CM, Esbjerg (Norway), £990k >>> Bali Mumba, 18, DM, Sunderland, £345k >>> Danel Sinani, 23, LW, Dudelange (Luxembourg), Free >>> Sebastien Soto, 20, CF, Hannover, Free >>> Matthew Dennis, 18, RB, Arsenal, Free >>> Xavi Quintilla, 24, LB, Villarreal, Loan >>> Oliver Skipp, 19, CM, Spurs, Loan >>> Ben Gibson, 27, CB, Burnley, Loan

Summer Outs >>> Ben Godfrey, 27, RB, Everton, £24m >>> Jamal Lewis, 22, LB, Newcastle, £15m >>> Mason Bloomfield, 23, CF, Hartlepool, Free >>> Sean Raggett, 27, CB, Portsmouth, Free >>> Simon Power, 22, RM, Kings Lynn, Loan >>> Rocky Bushiri, 20, CB, Mechelen (Belgium), Loan >>> Carlton Morris, 24, CF, MK Dons, Loan >>> Philip Heise, 29, LB, Karlsruher (Germany), Loan >>> Louis Thompson, 25, CM, MK Dons, Loan >>> Daniel Adshead, 18, CM, Telstar (Netherlands), Loan >>> Sebastian Soto, 20, CF, Telstar (Netherlands), Loan >>> Akin Famewo, 21, CB, Charlton, Loan >>> Timm Klose, 32, CB, Basel, Loan >>> Melvin Sitti, 20, DM, Beveren (Belgium), Loan >>> Sam McCallum, 20, LB, Coventry, Loan >>> Tom Trybull, 27, DM, Blackburn, Loan >>> Daniel Adshead, 18, CM, Telstar (Netherlands), Loan

Stand out players and weak links in the team?

Creatively is where Norwich flourish. Having Buendia, Todd Cantwell and Teemu Pukki at this level is like possessing a cheat code to be completely honest. That’s before we’ve discussed Tim Krul and Max Aarons. So there are plenty of strong areas to this Norwich side.

As for weak links, Jacob Sorensen has been playing as a makeshift left back due to Quintilla’s injury. He’s a Danish central midfielder and has been targeted by opponents in recent games. He’s done a sterling job considering the circumstances but it’s not his natural position, that’s for sure. The other is Michael McGovern - he’s not a weak link per se, but his distribution and lack of physicality could be targeted by an intelligent press or physically adept players from set pieces.

How's My Chemical Hugill gone for you so far?

Not really got going, to be honest. It’s felt like a bit of a stylistic clash. Imagine putting a bull in a ballet, that’s pretty much Hugill in City’s system. He’s largely been second fiddle to Pukki. He’s clearly a great lad, both parties just need to work out how to extract the best of each other. Not really worked thus far.

Team news for this game? I know you've had a whole heap of injuries this year, how's that list now?

It’s looking considerably better. Lukas Rupp, Ben Gibson, Kieran Dowell and Xavi Quintilla have all returned. I even heard a whisper that Tim Krul might be fit enough to play on Tuesday. Which is a positive.

Do you expect/think you'll get promotion over the line?

The ball is in their court. I’m not brave enough to stick my head on the line. This is a relentless division that punishes you whenever you begin to develop even a small bit of ego. Things are looking rosy, that is undeniable. But it is a slog, and it could go wrong. As it stands, they look well placed to return to the top-flight at the first time of asking which is some feat. Now they’ve just got to get there.

Links >>> Norwich Official Website >>> The Pink ‘Un – Local Press and Forum >>> Eastern Daily Press – Local Press >>> My Football Writer - Norwich City >>> Along Come Norwich - Blog

The Twitter @cjsouthwell1902, @loftforwords

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cheesy added 11:28 - Dec 28
Nobody has taken a thumping yet he says....

Northernr added 11:32 - Dec 28
Yeh that line stood out for me too!

TacticalR added 17:44 - Dec 29
Thanks to Connor.

Norwich seem to have become adept at moving between divisions and have done well to hang on to so many players. Buendia looks a real handful.

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