Despite being a popular pick for relegation since their promotion two years ago, Norwich City have found themselves not only entering their third consecutive season in the Premier League, but the club is in a position to make a run at a Europa League bid.
Like every club, they can qualify for a European adventure if they win a domestic cup, but a trip to Old Trafford or Stamford Bridge can quickly put an end to a dream of silverware. The other potential route for qualification is a seventh place finish, a feat that Norwich are now capable of achieving. Seventh does not guarantee a spot in Europe, but if clubs in the top six also reach the FA Cup final and win the League Cup, it allows club number seven entry into the Europa League.
The 2012/13 Canaries campaign included a ten game unbeaten streak that was immediately followed by a run of sixteen matches with just one victory. Norwich managed to defeat the likes of Arsenal and both Manchester clubs, but to finish in the seventh position next season, they will need to find a way to get results even when they aren’t playing at their best. Fortunately for Norwich supporters, the club has been active in the transfer market, adding players that should provide more consistency throughout the season.
The most significant of these acquisitions is Ricky van Wolfswinkel, the 24 year old Dutch forward who was acquired for a club record £8.5 million from Sporting Lisbon. “The Wolf” scored an impressive 45 goals in 87 matches for the Portuguese side over the past two seasons, and will bolster a Norwich strike force that failed to produce a double figure goal scorer in 2012/13. The Canaries have also added Nathan Redmond, Martin Olsson, and Leroy Fer, three young players that should make an immediate impact on the pitch.
While Norwich’s summer signing spree has shown that they are prepared to challenge in the top half of the table, their reluctance to sell keeper John Ruddy to Chelsea shows the ambition that is present at Carrow Road. Whether Ruddy wants to go to the Blues is irrelevant; if Norwich do not get their rumored £10 million asking price, then he will not be sold.
The Canaries face stiff competition from Swansea, Everton, and a slew of other clubs who fancy their chances at a top seven finish, but manager Chris Hughton now has the weapons needed for achieving the club’s second ever qualification for Europe. The Norwich front office has done their part in giving Norwich a chance, the question is now whether Hughton and his players can deliver.