The loss of Paul Lambert is a blow, but he leaves the club in good health. Based on the Canaries’ comfortable relegation-dodging, Chris Hughton has some breathing space as he looks to implement his plans. There hasn’t been a whole lot of transfer activity, but the signing of Robert Snodgrass is pretty pleasing along with the acquisition of Steven Whittaker thanks to the Rangers Old Co. closing down sale. Grant Holt picking up all his toys and getting back into the pram is also a major development, if you can call nothing actually happening a ‘development’. Despite whispers of a move from Aston Villa, it looks like they’ll keep John Ruddy and that’s a good thing.
Something to be positive about
Having to say goodbye to the man who guided you to two successive promotions and comfortable safety in the first season back in the top flight must feel like you’ve been unceremoniously dumped, but Hughton should prove to be a good replacement for Lambert. After more caretaking jobs than Groundskeeper Willie, he finally got his chance at Newcastle and was promptly ditched as soon as Mike Ashley got pissed in a casino. It did Hughton’s reputation no harm and the season he had with Birmingham seemed to confirm it wasn’t a flash in the pan.
Something to be a bit worried about
Presuming Hughton settles into the job and doesn’t ruffle the players’ feathers (and why would he because he seems lovely?) the main concern is the defence. Norwich conceded just under two goals a game (1.73) in the league and along with QPR, that was the worst of any team that didn’t get relegated. The closing months of the season were also a worry. On February 12, the Canaries had 35 points to their name, but for that point, they managed just 12 from a possible 39.
An optimistic season bet
Norwich were denied a place in the top half on goal difference last season. If Hughton can shore up the defence, they’re good value to right that wrong by finishing in the Top 10 at 13/2.
A more realistic season bet
If you think Hughton is a good appointment, then you’ll probably fancy the Norwich points spread for the season. They’re 5/6 to get over 36.5 points and considering they beat that tally comfortably last year, it looks like they could easily do it again.
Steven Whittaker (Rangers, free)
Jacob Butterfield (Barnsley, free)
Michael Turner (Sunderland, undisclosed)
Robert Snodgrass (Leeds, £3m)
Packing their bags
Zak Whitbread (released)
Aaron Wilbraham (released)
Josh Dawkin (released)
Adam Drury (Leeds)