Through the final months of the 2013/14 campaign, the decline of Norwich seemed to draw little more than shrugs and sighs from the collective football community.
A season that had begun with such intent following the signings of Gary Hooper, Nathan Redmond and Dutch internationals Leroy Fer and Ricky van Wolfswinkel disintegrated into little more than a mildly amusing farce.
Even the sacking of Chris Hughton, months overdue, was carried out with a sense of resigned reluctance. Although Norwich spent just five weeks in total in the relegation zone, there seemed an inevitably about this outcome from early in the season, as Hughton’s negativity permeated the side and their marquee signings failed to lift the Aviva Stadium from its usual slumber.
With Neil Adams now installed as permanent manager, preparations can begin in earnest for next season, with expectations firmly set for immediate promotion. If there is one positive to be drawn from the previous season, it is that a strong squad remains in place, amid assurances from the chairman that sales are not needed.
And even if the likes of Robert Snodgrass and Johnny Howson are lured away, there remains enough youthful talent in Nathan Redmond and the Murphy twins - Jacob and Joshua - that Canaries fans can approach the coming season with positivity.
An abysmal goals tally of just 28 will always spell trouble in any division, but at Championship level Norwich have the firepower to overcome any side. Should Hooper and Van Wolfswinkel stay, there will be enough firepower to scare any side, and beyond that, Luciano Becchio and Snodgrass have fearsome goal records at this standard. A year in the Championship may also bring the best from younger players who struggled for consistency in the Premier League.
The aforementioned Redmond recently netted a hat trick for England Under-21s and has shown flashes of excellence, but with just one goal and three assists all season, he will be looking to significantly improve his end product.
Similarly, the likes of Elliot and Ryan Bennett looked shorn of all confidence at times in a higher league, but if given the chance can provide a solid, young, developing backbone to this team.
Therefore, should Norwich stick to a policy of signing younger, hungrier players with something to prove, they could build a side capable not only of returning immediately to the Premier League, but of avoiding the malaise and apathy that blighted this season.
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