Norwich City’s Championship title win was unexpected by all bar the most optimistic Canaries’ supporter. German head coach Daniel Farke had guided the club to a 14th placed finish in his debut season in England but that had to see James Maddison and Josh Murphy depart as the club tried to manage the financial fallout from the end of Premier League parachute payments.
City’s transfer business 12 months ago did nothing to raise expectations another season of marginal gains beckoned. An unheralded striker called Teemu Pukki arrived on a free transfer, while Emi Buendia was plucked from a loan stint in the Spanish second tier. But Farke managed to gel a group who swept to the title on the back of some thrilling attacking football and a desire to dominate midfield with technically gifted operators and possession.
City have only signed four new players for the return to the Premier League. Plenty of faith is being placed in the group who engineered an unexpected promotion. Norwich know as a newly-promoted club they will be touted by many to make a swift return to the Premier League, but this head coach and these players are very adept at bucking the odds.
Idah 2, Hernandez, Pukki.
Stiepermann, Drmic 3, Roberts.
Norwich have gone for targeted additions rather than the wholesale buying approach of Aston Villa this summer or Fulham 12 months ago.
Right back was an area they needed to find cover for Max Aarons after two players left the club in that position.
Josip Drmic will provide competition for Teemu Pukki and likewise Ralf Fahrmann has been brought in to fight for the number one jersey with Tim Krul.
Experienced keeper who played in the Champions League last season. Season long loan.
Young attacker who signed a one year contract extension this summer with the Premier League champions. Season long loan.
Swiss international who missed a spot kick in the Nations League penalty shoot out against England. Striker.
Former Leeds right back who spent last season on loan at Nottingham Forest.
The brief is simple for Norwich City; survival after coming up from the Championship.
Although those who matter inside Carrow Road will not be limiting their sights to finishing 17th or higher. Daniel Farke and sporting director Stuart Webber were very quick to manage expectations after promotion. Both reiterated City will have the smallest player, budget in terms of salaries and transfer fees, in the top flight this coming season but they believe the formula which carried the club to the Championship title - astute overseas signings and a real faith in developing young players - can help them bridge the gap.
That said, there is also a healthy realism against the best clubs and some of the best players in the world they will suffer their fair share of heavy defeats. But that underdog spirit and collective unity should not be underestimated.
Allied to that, the style of football developed by Farke should be far better suited to the Premier League than the blood and thunder of Championship combat every few days.