Norwich City Review Of The Season

Norwich City 2011-2012

League Playing Record : 

Full    P38  W12  D11  L15  F52  A66  PTS 47    

Home    P19  W7  D6  L6  F28  A30  PTS 27    

Away    P19  W5  D5  L9  F24  A36  PTS 20

Premier League Final Position :  12th
FA Cup :  5th Round
League Cup :  2nd Round

Most Appearances (all comps) :  Grant Holt 38, John Ruddy 37, Russell Martin 37, Wes Hoolahan 37, Steve Morison 37

Most Goals (all comps) :  Grant Holt 17, Steve Morison 10, Anthony Pilkington 8

Career Appearances :  Adam Drury 361, Wes Hoolahan 158, Grant Holt 130, Simon Lappin 124

Career Goals :  Grant Holt 70, Chris Martin 34, Wes Hoolahan 31

Player Of The Year :  Grant Holt

Highest Attendance : 26,819 v Liverpool  28th April 2012

Biggest Win : 4-1 v Burnley  FA Cup  7th January 2012

Biggest Defeat :  1-6 v Manchester City  Premier League  14th April 2012

Five Days That Shaped The Season

Saturday 27th August 2011 -  Chelsea 3 Norwich City 1

After draws in the opening two Premier League fixtures, this match provided the first 'fingers crossed' occasion - a day when hope was probably overtaken by dread of what might happen. As it turned out, the Canaries gave a fantastic account of themselves in a dramatic match. It didn't look good when Bosingwa put the home side ahead with a good shot after just six minutes. But by the time Grant Holt equalised on 63 minutes, City had given Chelsea a really tough afternoon. The game only slipped away from us in the closing stages. A long hold up after a horrific injury to Drogba, who collided with John Ruddy, was followed by a penalty in which the City goalkeeper was red carded, and then a last gasp goal deep into the time added on. But Norwich had shown enough on the day to suggest they would be no pushovers at this level, and it was a very early sign of Paul Lambert's tactical nous, which would set us in good stead for the remainder of the campaign.

Saturday 17th September 2011 -  Bolton Wanderers 1 Norwich City 2

Whilst I am sure the players went in to this match focussed only on the job in hand, it was an important day for supporters. A day when they got a monkey off their backs. Norwich City had failed to win away from home in the Premier League for 17 years, having won no three pointers on their travels in their last top flight campaign of 2004-05. It was a record that needed to go - a similar run this time around was always likely to spell relegation. That it went in just the third away trip of the season was satisfying, and a relief. Goals from Anthony Pilkington and Bradley Johnson towards the end of the first half were followed by a red card for Bolton's Klasnic. The expected fight back from the home side after the break produced just one goal (from the penalty spot, meaning Norwich had conceded in this way in all five opening matches of their league campaign). But the Canaries were comfortable and deserved the win. A first victory back in the Premier League. And that record, which would have undoubtedly been a millstone as the season progressed, was gone very early on.

Monday 2nd January 2012 -  Queens Park Rangers 1 Norwich City 2

This was always going to be a hard match, given the rivalry of last season and City's win over Rangers in the home fixture back in November. It was no surprise when Barton gave the Hoops the lead on eleven minutes. And it was no surprise when the moody midfielder saw red after 36 minutes. It was the turning point in a tempestuous affair. The Canaries held firm, fully prepared to add needle and aggression to their mind set. A goal from Anthony Pilkington levelled things before the break, leaving Steve Morison to come off the bench and hit home the winner seven minutes from time. This game was a huge landmark in the season for both clubs. Norwich had already been attracting praise for their Premier League efforts thus far. This victory took them to 25 points at New Year, and showed that the side had real backbone. It was one of those days when survival in the top level suddenly looked achievable. And a double over the only team to finish above us in last season's Championship felt good.

Saturday 4th February 2012 -  Norwich City 2 Bolton Wanderers 0

I think most Norwich fans had targeted this as a must win match even before a ball had been kicked in the 2011-12 Premier League season. And when the time came, it gave the opportunity to open up a sizeable gap on rival clubs in the relegation battle. Unfortunately, history tends to point to let downs in similar situations in the past. And an unusually poor performance at Sunderland in midweek cultivated plenty of doubt in the mind going into the match. How nice it was therefore, to see such a confident and comfortable victory over the struggling Trotters. Especially as both of our centre backs, Zak Whitbread and Daniel Ayala, were lost to injury in the first half - meaning a cobbled together defence for a large part of the game. Goals from Andrew Surman and Anthony Pilkington gave the Canaries the valuable three points. And it meant a twelve point gap between the two teams in the Premier League table. Norwich City were up to ninth position. Relegation battle ? What relegation battle ?

Saturday 24th March 2012 -  Norwich City 2 Wolverhampton Wanderers 1

This was the victory that probably convinced most Norwich City fans that their team would be in the Premier League for the 2012-13 campaign. Perhaps not surprisingly, it was a tense occasion, made more so when Jarvis put the visitors ahead on 25 minutes. But the Canaries hit back immediately, within a minute, through a delightful lobbed goal from Grant Holt. He added a penalty on the stroke of half time, and City were on their way to three points. A Wolves capitulation did not follow however, in fact this turned out to be one of their few decent performances in the final third of the season. In the end Norwich pulled through, even surviving the dismissal of Holt late on. The wider picture was survival on a bigger front. Though the win did not quite take City to the Holy Grail of 40 points, it pretty much meant there would be no relegation. That position was not actually mathematically confirmed until a couple of matches from the end of the season as it happens, but this, undoubtedly, was the day we really felt safe.

and finally..............

Norwich City may have been the top tip for relegation amongst the so called experts. But loyal Canary fans called it differently. Personally I felt we had a fair chance of survival, given a little bit of luck along the way. As it transpired we didn't need luck, at least in no measurable quantity. Once we had shaken off the early season nerves (the reason behind all those penalties conceded), we hit a wonderful rhythm. Our group of lean and hungry footballers, constantly rotated to keep them fresh, soon made up for a lack in age and experience by producing regular fighting displays. And the tactical nous coming from the touchline often undid even the more established of Premier League opponents. In the end, survival was almost ridiculously easy. Even supporters of the most nervous disposition were treated to an armchair ride. For the third season in succession the club made progress. There was even time, after safety was secured, to beat Spurs and frighten the life out of Arsenal away from home. Thoughts already are firmly turned towards next season. It will be a busy summer in and out of Carrow Road I expect, and therefore predictions are difficult without knowing exactly what shape we are going to be in come August. But we have some extraordinarily good young talent on our books right now. There is still much reason to be optimistic. The curse of second season syndrome will doubtless be an issue. And with Reading and Southampton already confirmed as members of the top flight for 2012-13, the competition already has a more verdant look to it. But if the Canaries continue to tackle each match with the same self belief of the last ten months there should be nothing to worry about. The whole squad have shown few signs of being fazed by the greater challenges put before them. The campaign has been a pleasure, for everyone associated with Norwich City Football Club. And it is that emotion that we need to carry forward. For as Franklin D. Roosevelt once famously said, the only thing we have to fear, is fear itself.

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