Norwich City has finally secured their place in the English Premiership for the 2019-20 season with a game to spare, the Canaries defeated Blackburn Rovers 2-1 at Carrow Road to achieve their EPL status for next season. 1st half goals from Marco Stiepermann, a 13th-minute shot from just outside Rovers’ 18-yard box and Mario Vrancic, another long-range strike in the 21st minute, did the damage on Rovers, even though Rovers pulled a goal back in the 23rd minute through Lewis Travis. A win in their last match of the season will secure the Skybet Championship for Norwich. The Canaries are now back in the EPL having relegated about 3 seasons ago(2015-16 season).
Norwich’s aim of getting promotion as soon as possible was entrusted on the shoulders of Daniel Farke, the 42-year-old German was appointed in May 2017, just before the start of the 2017-18 season, and he became the 1st foreign manager in the history of the club. Norwich’s fate in the German has finally yielded fruit just 2 years on the job.
Nobody gave Norwich a chance to make the playoffs let alone make the 2 automatic promotion slots at the beginning of the season, as most predictions and odds are not in their favour. One of such prediction had place Norwich on a distance 9th-place finish as shown below;
Fast forward 9 months later, EFL table showed otherwise, with just a match to go;
This further buttressed the fact that football matches are not played on the pieces of papers but rather on the field of play, bookies have been proven wrong time and again.
Apart from the early season wobble that saw Norwich City loses 3 of her 1st 5 matches, won 1 and drew 1, they rallied well and got their campaign right back on track. There was no stopping them from the moment they assumed top spot, as they went on a commendable run since. Daniel Farke has managed to assembled a group of exciting lads in such short time, names such as their top scorer, Teemu Pukki, full backs, Jamal Lewis and Max Aarons are 3 of Farke’s players that made the PFA Championship team of the season, other sensational Farke recruits both from abroad and within includes Onel Hernandez, Tim Krul, Josh Martin, Ben Godfrey amongst others. Team rebuilding isn’t that hard, or is it?
Norwich City free-flow football that has seen them bruised and battered so many EFL teams will surely give some of the EPL teams a run for their money. However, if their performance is good enough to keep them up at the end of the 2019-20 season is a big ask, only time will tell.
Sheffield United has joined Norwich City on the way up, also with a game to spare. It is certainly more than a decade since Sheffield United tasted EPL’s top flight football, nevertheless, an eventful 12 years that had seen them dropped into League 1 and back into Championship, managerial shake-offs and other off-pitch hands on, the Blades are finally back in the EPL. Credits must be given to not only the players and coaching crew but also to the co-owners too, Kevin McCabe and Prince Abdullah Bin Musa’as Bin Abdulaziz Al Saudi(who bought 50% stake in the Club in 2013) for the full support both financially and morally.
Sheffield United went into the match against already relegated Ipswich Town, knowing a win and nothing else will tighten their grip on the 2nd automatic spot. They duly did just that at Bramall Lane, a goal each in either half sealed their victory. Scott Hogan, an Aston Villa loanee put United ahead in the 24th minutes of the 1st half, while Jack O’Connell close-range header completed United’s double on Saturday. United’s promotion was then rubber stamped on Sunday when Leeds United play host to Aston Villa, Leeds were hoping to keep their slim chance of automatic promotion alive with a win, but a dramatic 1 all draw against Villa at Elland Road meant Leeds United will have to slug it out for promotion in the dreaded playoffs.
Like Norwich City, Sheffield United were outsiders on the punter’s list of promotion prospects, they were ranked 12th on prediction table, but yet again, United exceeded all expectations and odds and got promoted ahead of the bookie’s favourites such as Stoke City, Swansea City and the likes as shown in table 1 and 2 respectively. Unlike Norwich that made some cheap smart signings, Sheffield United relied mainly on most of the group kept together from the time at league 1, of course with a few loan additions like Scott Hogan of Aston Villa, Kieran Dowell from Everton and so on. Players such as the captain, Billy Sharp, Paul Coutts, Chris Basham, Kieron Freeman have been ever-present for United and are so vital and instrumental in United solidity.
Sheffield United will have to produce much more than they did in the championship to survive in the EPL, Big funds will be available for making the EPL, smart addition will be needed to stay up come to the end of 2019-20 season.
Congratulations to both Norwich City and Sheffield United for their feat, and to all their fans, enjoy the stay in the EPL while it last.
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