We promised you part two, so here we go. Same questions…
- How will Dean Smith and Shakey manage the Premier League hangover (as Daniel Farke did so brilliantly in the summer of 2020)?
Jamie Lauder: Smith and Shakey know the English game. They know what a team needs to go up and no doubt will assert themselves and pull everyone in the same direction.
Steve Cook: A fast start is crucial. The jury’s still out on Smith but last season’s disconnect between club and fanbase means the ‘goodwill pot’ is running pretty thin.
James Finbow: I hope and pray we make a fast start for their sake because the heat is on. I’ve been very underwhelmed by Smith so far. Relegation was always on the cards when he arrived but I expected more cohesion and fight. They’ve been in charge for nine months and I still have no idea how they want us to play. I don’t believe Smith trusted his players last season but most are still here!
James Colman: Literally the million dollar question. Neither have similar experiences with previous clubs, yet both should be wily enough to know what needs to be done. Given the way that they have handled the rehabilitation of Todd Cantwell, I’m cautiously optimistic.
Will Grant: It’s not simple to find the cure for the relegation hangover, however one major sign which determines if Norwich have moved forward, is the volume of chances they create. If the attacking threat is as blunt as last season, then an underwhelming season could be ahead.
- What have you made of the ins and out of the summer so far? (clearly, there will be more).
Jamie: I’m happy with how the window’s progressing. We’ve kept our main players and lost some I don’t think would’ve cut it in the Championship. Placheta never made it, PLM lacked the physicality needed for the Championship and, hopefully, Tzolis will gain confidence at Twente. I’ve only heard good things about Hayden and as for Gabriel Sara – he’s Brazilian. My expectations are already too high.
Steve: Pleasantly surprised by some of those who are still at the club (subject to change of course). The midfield remains a worry. On paper, Hayden and Sara add much-needed steel and energy but we need them to return fully fit and avoid further injury.
James F: On paper, Hayden looks an astute piece of business – he should give us energy, leadership and fight, all of which were lacking last term. I’ve not seen Sara play but he seems to be an energetic number 8 who will arrive late in the box. I expected more significant outgoings and I suspect the club did too. I don’t think the returning loanees improve our first team but do give us added depth.
James C: It didn’t take a genius to work out that the midfield needed a serious overhaul. So far, we have added one proven performer in Hayden, whilst Sara feels more like a calculated risk, but both look a step in the right direction. The departure of PLM was a surprise, but he wasn’t setting the Premier League on fire and there is enough in the squad to cover. Zimbo leaving seems to leave us short at the back though.
Will: I’ve always held the opinion that if players don’t want to be here, then they should go. Obviously, that’s the case with Pierre Lees-Melou. I have to give Dean Smith & co credit for identifying that the midfield needs a transformation after last season. Isaac Hayden has the potential to be a good signing, but we must get him fit.
- Does this squad, even without more significant incomings, have enough to repeat the heroics of 2020-21?
Jamie: You have to consider the leap between the Premier League and the Championship. We have a depleted squad, but it still should still comfortably finish in the playoffs. I’m optimistic.
Steve: I see a squad that can compete. Title-winning teams are built around a settled starting XI and we’ve yet to see Smith’s preferred line-up. If he can find the right blend and formation, we’ve got a chance.
James F: Will we finish top? Unlikely but not impossible. Momentum is a funny beast. The five-subs rule helps us as we will have plenty of options on the bench but only have one of our key triumvirate left from 2020-21 – Pukki. No Skipp, but most importantly no Buendia and there’s a lack of creativity in the squad. A lot rests on the shoulders of Cantwell (I doubt anybody thought we’d be saying that two months ago).
James C: I don’t expect this squad to blow the league away like we did in 2020-21, however, there is more than enough talent to see us through – if the injuries are kind to us. Please wrap Teemu in cotton wool as we have precious little else to cover, Hugill’s heroics in pre-season notwithstanding.
Will: There’s an abundance of quality in this current squad but the challenge for Smith is to assemble all the jigsaw pieces to make them fit. However, I think we’re in need of another attacking midfielder because the attack still looks blunt, with no injection of creativity.
- Who, in particular, do you expect to shine this season?
Jamie: I think Milot Rashica is far too good to be playing in the Championship and I don’t think we saw the best of him last year. The Kosovan will run riot in the Championship, is my prediction.
Steve: Hugill’s pre-season form and fitness is encouraging and may finally take some pressure off Teemu. Being optimistic, I’m hoping the penny has finally dropped for Todd and he becomes the main man.
James F: If we are to be successful then Pukki will probably need to bag 20+ goals again. I think he’ll struggle to get chances this time though. Our midfield needed a total overhaul – we’ve got two newbies so far, so I’ll say Sara to be the difference maker for us. He’s cost a few bob – one of our expensive signings has to work out eventually, right?
James C: I expect Andrew Omobamidele to be the real stand-out this season – he has it all and clearly Smith and Shakey are big fans. But I also think that the Dereham Deco may blossom.
Will: I’m going for Jonathan Rowe. My academy bias aside, I think there is a special talent there. There will be occasions when Rowe will get cameos off the bench, and he must capitalise on them. There will be teams that come to Carrow Road to play conservatively, so Rowe’s pace and flair could unlock a defence. I expect Pukki to be POTS, but Rowe could be a player who has a big impact.
- Where will City finish?
Jamie: Second. I think Burnley might pip us to the title – they’ve got a really strong squad – but we should bounce straight back. That being said, I’d love a playoff win.
Steve: My heart says play-offs. My head says just short, in eighth.
James F: I think we’ll sneak sixth – the bare minimum – probably due to a good late run. But I wouldn’t put good money on the current manager being in the dugout come May 2023.
James C: I’ll be bold – second.
Will: Automatic promotion. It can only take one game for all things to click. With two experienced coaches at the helm, I don’t think it will take too long for the team to start scoring and winning games.
Part three will be along later.