When a club is relegated from the Premier League, there is a tendency for them to part company with their manager. Although Sheffield United have not yet departed the top flight, they are all but mathematically down, and last weekend they parted company with Chris Wilder who had been in charge at Bramall Lane for almost five years.
One of the clubs that are heading in the opposite direction to the Blades – and are odds-on according to online casino – are Norwich City, who look like they will be bouncing straight back from their relegation last season. The Canaries are runaway Championship leaders, and – barring a collapse of epic proportions – will be back in the Premier League come May.
So how have Norwich achieved this instant redemption?
Manager Daniel Farke has been at the club for almost four years after joining from Borussia Dortmund II, and spent his first year in charge completely overhauling the playing squad, the most dramatic changes coming during the two transfer windows of the 2018/19 season when Farke brought in sixteen new players – mainly free transfers – while allowing the same number to depart, including James Maddison to Leicester City. This change in personnel paid dividends when the Canaries won the Championship title at a canter.
The club’s transfer business was similar ahead of the 2019/20 season, but it quickly became clear that the squad wasn’t strong enough, nor good enough for the Premier League. Their season began with a 4-1 defeat to Liverpool at Anfield, and further heavy defeats were to follow including a 5-1 mauling by Aston Villa at Carrow Road, a 4-0 loss to Manchester United at Old Trafford, a 4-0 homes thrashing by West Ham United, while their season ended with a 5-0 hammering on their visit to the Etihad to face Manchester City.
Norwich ended the campaign bottom of the table, and headed back to the Championship.
It would have been easy – and perhaps understandable – for the club to have fired Farke. But they didn’t. There was no clamour for this from the club’s support, and so there was no knee-jerk reaction and they chose stability over change.
And equally important, they retained the core of the squad – and crucially leading scorer Teemu Pukki – that was more than good enough to compete in the Championship. And so it has proved.
So as Norwich City head back to the Premier League – more than likely as champions – the board can take great satisfaction from their decision-making as they are reaping the rewards for standing by manager Daniel Farke.