Six things you might have missed during City's title triumph
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Our chief Norwich City reporter David Freezer takes a look at six things you might have missed as the Canaries sealed the Championship title with a 4-1 win over Reading.
1 – Numero uno
It’s official, this is the most successful second-tier season in the history of Norwich City Football Club.
The EFL Awards on Thursday provided the latest hint, as Daniel Farke and Emi Buendia claimed the top Championship prizes and four Canaries players were named in the Team of the Season.
But the scintillating fightback which left Reading praying for mercy ensured the title had been won with a club-record points haul of 96 – with one game remaining to add to the total.
Short of conceding five at Barnsley on Saturday, the class of 2020-21 will also finish with the club’s best defensive record at this level, having already enjoyed the best away campaign in City history.
Put the cherry on top at Oakwell and it will also be the first time a Norwich team have ever won 30 league games in a season. They are truly returning to the Premier League in style.
- 1 Tax inspectors probe 240 furlough fraud cases in Norfolk and Suffolk
- 2 Norfolk campsite voted third best in UK
- 3 'Very small' number of Indian Covid variant cases in Norfolk
- 4 Lorry driver admits causing deaths of two people in A47 crash
- 5 Driver in hospital after BMW car ends up in ditch
- 6 Six North Norfolk beaches awarded blue flag status for summer 2021
- 7 Social distancing stops fish and chip shop's restaurant opening on May 17
- 8 Norfolk lorry drivers clocked for nearly 200 traffic offences in three days
- 9 Indian variant could hamper roadmap, Norfolk health expert says
- 10 Owners of popular street food van open café bistro in Norwich
2 - Is this goodbye?
From stewards to staff, players to media, there was a common theme of conversation at Carrow Road on Saturday – as all fortunate enough to be inside the stadium hoped it would be the final behind-closed-doors experience.
As a few hundred fans threw caution to the wind in their excitement outside the stadium at full-time, Tim Krul was leading the chants of ‘one more year’ and ‘we want you to stay’ in Oliver Skipp’s direction, with the Tottenham loanee grimacing on crutches with a suspected broken foot.
Whether the midfielder returns will be a narrative that will rumble on for a while yet but, based on Farke’s most recent comments, it could have been the final Carrow Road appearance for Alex Tettey and Mario Vrancic as they were introduced in the 83rd minute.
If it was a final runout at Carrow Road for some of these title winners, all City fans will desperately hope for a chance to say a proper goodbye once normality has returned.
3 – Memorable moments
From Delia Smith singing the ‘please don’t take my Emi away’ chant to Buendia as he received the Barry Butler Memorial Trophy, through to Farke having a container of melting ice chucked over his head, there were memorable moments throughout on Saturday.
Tim Krul charged the length of the pitch to celebrate after Teemu Pukki had made it 4-1, Xavi Quintilla received an emotionally charged hug from Buendia after his beautiful free-kick and 'Mayor’ McLean was already on to beer number four by the time he made it over to the waiting reporters for his post-match interviews.
It was only the second occasion that City had won the title at Carrow Road, having also made sure of the trophy on home soil in 1986 thanks to a 1-1 draw with Stoke.
There was a pitch invasion during the party of 35 years ago, sadly that wasn’t possible this time – but even Farke couldn’t resist busting out his trademark celebratory waves with the delirious fans who had gathered outside.
4 – Flicked the switch
Reading’s resistance and ambition was pretty impressive in the first half, fresh from the disappointment of missing out on the play-offs, but it was only the heroics of Brazilian goalkeeper Rafael that stopped City scoring more than four.
The leaders swarmed forward early in the second half, with Rafael denying Kenny McLean, Kieran Dowell and Todd Cantwell prior to Dowell making the breakthrough with his classy finish in the 64th minute.
So much so that 12 shots on target was a new high for the Farke era, the first time City have managed that many in a league game since the German took charge in 2017.
Teemu Pukki looks to have lost the Golden Boot race with Ivan Toney and should have had more than one on Saturday - particularly as he led the line so well, with pace and persistence – but 26 goals still represents an excellent return for a player who remains crucial to how the Canaries play.
5 – Serious potential
The player to attempt the most passes (78) and complete the most accurate passes (70), of anyone on the pitch was 18-year-old Andrew Omobamidele.
City’s style of play requires that centre-backs help to control possession but the composure and cool reactions on show from the Irish youngster were seriously impressive on Saturday.
He turned out of pressure on several occasions against the Royals, reading the game well and demonstrating bravery in possession.
The academy product contributed to the total control the Canaries enjoyed in the second half, up against some lively attackers, and could well be doing enough to persuade Farke and Stuart Webber that he’ll be better off staying in Norfolk next year than heading out on loan.
He still has much to learn about defensive positioning and physicality but his technical ability could allow him to remain part of the squad in the Premier League.
6 – Special achievements
Becoming champions earned the fifth second-tier title of City’s history, with Farke becoming the first Canaries boss to win the title twice, having matched Ken Brown’s achievement of two promotions in the process.
Norwich are the sixth team to bounce back to the top tier as champions in the past 20 years and only two of those had more points than the current 96: Newcastle in 2010 on 102 and Manchester City in 2002 on 99.
Farke also becomes just the fourth manager to win the second-tier title twice since the formation of the Premier League in 1992, joining Kevin Keegan with Newcastle (1993) and Manchester City (2002), Peter Reid with Sunderland (1996 and 1999) and Mick McCarthy with Sunderland (2005) and Wolves (2009).
The Canaries also become the fifth club to have won the title five times since the second tier of the Football League was introduced in 1892 – joining Leicester, Manchester City (seven), Sheffield Wednesday and Sunderland (five).