Joining Hughton on the jump from the Championship to the Premier League is Jacob Butterfield, who joins on a free transfer from Barnsley and Robert Snodgrass from Leeds United. Both of Norwich’s Championship acquisitions are midfielders (Snograss preferring the wing or the role behind the striker), whilst their other two ply their trade in defence: Steven Whittaker joined the Canaries on a free transfer from Rangers and Michael Turner left Sunderland for little under £1.5m for the Norfolk side.
Perhaps indicative from their transfer activity over the summer, Norwich City need no bolstering up-front. However, their only worry over preseason has been just that: an apparent lack of firepower in the the forward ranks, despite a large arsenal. The Canaries carry Steve Morison, James Vaughan, Simeon Jackson and Chris Martin as well as main man Grant Holt, yet over their preseason friendlies a lack of cutting edge has worried Hughton. “An area we’d like to improve on over this pre-season period is our goals tally,” he explained to local radio station, BBC Radio Norfolk, “We looked very solid as a unit, got into some good areas but it would have been nice to see a couple of goals.” Yet, it doesn’t seem to worry Hughton enough into a rash purchase, “We’ve got a lot of forwards, a lot of strikers…it’s an ongoing process and if we’re able to strengthen, great, but if not, we’ve got a group of lads here that have fared very well at this club.”
Chris Hughton’s last season in the Premier League, following promotion from the Championship with Newcastle United, was short-lived but well-managed. In fact eight of Hughton’s most-played players in their promotion campaign from the Championship were integral to the Toon’s fifth place finish in the Premier League last season. His dismissal was unpoluar and perhaps unjust, but in hindsight one cannot argue with the progress Newcastle have made.
Now, having enjoyed a season back in the Championship, leading Birmingham to a fourth-place finish, Hughton gets his second crack at Premier League management.
Last season, Swansea finished 11th, Norwich 12th and QPR 17th. This time round, a prediction of outperforming Swansea, who have, like Norwich, lost their manager, but unlike Norwich, also down a few key players from last season, should bode well with Canaries. However, QPR, financially backed and soundly managed by Mark Hughes, are likely to challenge Norwich for a higher placed finish.
Therefore, this season coming, a prediction of 14th place, in and around newly-promoted pair Southampton and West Ham, seems a fair judgement of things. For Norwich to continue to consolidate as a Premier League side should take priority. Andrew Surman has hinted at further signings, as has Hughton and, personally, if Norwich are to outperform their prediction, these signings are perhaps essential.
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