Norwich season review – Canaries silence critics with impressive mid-table finish

Norwich City – 12th

FA Cup – 5th Round

League Cup – 2nd Round

Before the season began, pundits and fans alike did not know what to expect from Norwich City. The Canaries had surpassed expectations in the previous campaign, achieving back-to-back promotions and returning to the Premier League for the first time in six seasons.

Paul Lambert began recruiting new players early in the transfer window. The manager spent wisely, drafting in seven players including the young Spurs right-back Kyle Naughton on a season-long loan, Huddersfield Town Player of the Season Anthony Pilkington and Wales international Steve Morison.

Going into the opening game of the season, away at Wigan Athletic, Norwich were expected to struggle; avoiding relegation was the priority. Despite initially struggling to adapt to the pace of the Premier League, Norwich attacked with intent, played smooth football and left the DW Stadium with a valuable point. A week later, the Canaries faced Stoke City in their first home game of the season. Although Norwich held a 1-0 lead for most of the match, they gave up the 3 points with only seconds remaining. Those results, coupled with a harsh loss away at Chelsea and a home defeat to West Brom, forced Paul Lambert to rethink his tactics. Much-needed strategic changes and team selection tweaks paid off as Norwich immediately hit form, taking 11 points from half a dozen games.

At the halfway point in the season, Norwich were sitting comfortably in 11th place, notably defeating both other newly promoted clubs Swansea City and QPR, along with an incredible 4-2 victory over high-flying Newcastle United. Norwich City impressed outsiders with their fluid, passing football and attacking mentality. Canaries icon Grant Holt had seven goals to his name and had began to find his feet, new boy Steve Morison bagged six, goalkeeper John Ruddy was being touted as an England prospect and plenty of other players were being praised for their performances.

Norwich began 2012 with a bang, winning two consecutive league games, progressing to the 4th round of the FA Cup and recruiting Leeds skipper captain Howson. The Canaries kept their first clean sheet of the campaign at home to Chelsea with an outstanding defensive display. Their next big achievement of the campaign came at the start of February, as two goals from the skipper Holt and a strike from Pilkington helped Norwich become only the second team to defeat Swansea at the Liberty Stadium, with a 3-2 victory.

After a painful defeat to Leicester ended their FA Cup dreams, Premier League survival became the priority again. A run of poor results, where Norwich gained only four points out of a possible 18, aroused fear of relegation into the Norwich fans. Survival was finally confirmed on April 7th after a fantastic 2-2 draw at home to in-form Everton. Their season didn’t end there though; the Canaries topped off a marvellous Premier League return with two magnificent displays in North London, beating fourth-place Tottenham 2-1 and drawing 3-3 with Arsenal who were third.

Norwich ended their season with a terrific 2-0 triumph at home to Aston Villa. Inevitable speculation linking boss Lambert away from Carrow Road began, but that didn’t halt the celebrations. The Canaries finished in 12th place after a superb season; and optimistic fans already have the 2012-13 campaign in mind.

Manager – Paul Lambert: Lambert marked his third season as Norwich boss and first in the Premier League by achieving the tough task of keeping them in the top tier of English football. Throughout the season Lambert was fearless, making tactical changes to the side regularly, as well as tweaking the starting line-up when he deemed necessary and boosting his squad effectively in the January transfer window.

Player of the season – Grant Holt: Holt’s consistently exceptional performances, outstanding work rate and trademark eye for goal made him Norwich’s standout player of the season. The Canaries talisman hit an impressive 15 goals in his first season in the top flight, making him the second highest scoring Englishman in the league and earning him a great deal of acclaim.

Turning point – The first victory of the season: For the first four games of the season Norwich had played convincingly well but had only gained 2 points. Paul Lambert made six changes to the starting line-up for the away trip to Bolton, and the alterations certainly paid off as Norwich left with all three points, sparking a fantastic run of results for the Canaries who picked up 11 out of 18 available points.

Check out the Euro 2012 odds and get some tips on the European Championships betting.

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