Norwich CityNorwich City are a club with a great history, but recently slipped down the football ranks drastically - ending up in the League 1 for one season in 2009, with things not looking good for the Canaries after a 7-0 defeat to Colchester United. They would be nowhere near the club they are now (a mid table club in the Barclays Premier League) without Paul Lambert, now at Aston Villa, and Chris Hughton, the two manager's they've had while at the club.
Norwich play an attacking style, proved by their new signings in 2013 - with the signings of Ricky van Wolfswinkel and Nathan Redmond most notably. However, they have plenty of strength in their defense as well, as you are soon to find out, so there is a variety of the playing style you decide to use when playing as the Canaries. Which one will you choose? Maybe this guide will help you.
Finances & BudgetWhile not known to be rich, Norwich do have a fair amount of starting money - but of course it varies depending on your targets for the season. The minimum expectation in the first season is to avoid relegation, which gives you a lot of room for error, but of course less money. You start off with a £7 million transfer budget and a £550,000 p/w wage budget. These are very respectable money values for a club like Norwich, considering the challenge you may choose to take on.
The next expectation is the most likely for Norwich in real life, but is it for you? This would be looking at a mid-table finish in the league, so around 14th (their league expectation) to maybe even 8th. If you believe you can achieve this, you'll be expecting an £8.5 million budget for new signings with a £600,000 p/w wage budget. If you have enough confidence to say you can finish around mid-table at least, this is definitely for you.
The final possible expectation for you to choose is slightly unrealistic for real life, but it all depends on how good a manager you are, to say if you can reach it. This is a top half finish, so if you're confident about reaching 10th position in the league or above, this expectation is for you. Choosing this would give you a respectable £9.5 million transfer budget alongside a £600,000 p/w budget to pay staff and player wages.
You should not feel pressured into choosing the best possible option for expectations right away if you aren't comfortable with doing so. If you only think you can avoid relegation, choose that as your expectation and do your best to reach that goal. Then again, if you think you can aim a little higher, or want a challenge, you can choose slightly above your comfort zone, although there is no one stopping you from choosing whatever you want.
TacticsAs I have said before, Norwich play an attractive attacking style of football - something common in Premier League football - but certainly are not limited in defense and midfield positions either, so you can base your formation and tactics on whatever position you may favour. I now have a few formations that work effectively with Norwich from experience.
#1 - 4-1-2-1-2
This tactic is trustworthy if you have the right players doing the right things. For example, you need a central midfielder who can attack - Alexander Tettey isn't the right player for this position. However, he may be better for the supportive central midfielder, or even the defensive midfielder just behind.
This formation involves a regular back four, with 2 full backs and 2 centre backs - both full backs must be able to show some form of attack, as well as the obvious defensive strengths, while the centre backs both need to have great defensive skills (although this is very obvious).
Next up is the defensive midfielder, who needs to be a good anchor man for the tactics to flow correctly. He must show a strong defensive ability, as well as being fully able to supply the ball to the midfielders or even beyond. As mentioned before, the formation needs two central midfielders - one a regular supportive midfielder, the other an attacking playmaker, ready to get on the scoresheet as often as possible. There are already some great players compatible with this position, but it may help to add another central midfielder to your squad. See some recommendations later on. Also, you must have 1 attacking midfielder who can effectively play as a supportive attacking midfielder, ready to supply the ball quickly to the two strikers ahead.
Finally, there are the two strikers - one of which needs to show great skills as a supportive deep lying forward, the other needs to be able to perform brilliantly as an attacking advanced forward. These positions are all required to be at their best potential for this tactic to work at its finest.
#2 - 4-2-2-2
This can be a risk tactic, as it doesn't involve any attacking midfielders, but it turns out to be effective against most oppositions. While probably not best as a starting tactic, it'll definitely be very useful for the Capital One Cup and the FA Cup. But, again, it's only at its best when each position is taken by the best available player to fill it. It's unlikely to work with too many people in the wrong positions, even if it's just two players who need swapping around, it can be the different between 3 points and 0.
In defense, you as always need the regular back four - with both left and right backs required to be able to play football as supportive full backs. They are the only positions down the wide areas, so they are very important. The central defenders both need similar strengths. Although if they aren't able to perform well enough in this position, I'd suggest selling them - as they probably won't be much use anywhere else, either.
As well as the defense, you will need two defensive midfielders, both capable of playing as a regular defensive midfielder, one slightly more defensive and the other slightly more supportive. This tiny detail may be crucial in the matches you play - everything in this formation needs to be perfect for it to work effectively in the big leagues. The defensive midfielders are followed by two central midfielders, this time they both need to be quite attacking - although one must be supportive, the other attacking. This attacking midfielder is probably the most important part of the tactic, as he will be the most required when supplying the ball and assisting with the goals.
Finally, you need two strikers who can be an attacking advanced forward or a supportive deep lying forward. Never use a last resort striker in a competitive league match, if you have no strikers, compromise, as the tactics will be useless if one of the two strikers are ineffective too. Most positions do need to be perfect in this risky formation, but the results are good afterwards.
#3 - 4-4-2
The very basic formation which hasn't been used as much as it used to be, although it hasn't gone completely extinct yet. The reason it has been used a lot is because it's effective quite a lot of the time, and there's a ton of different varieties of each position, so there's room for error if one player isn't completely perfect for a role, they can still be compatible as long as they can play well in that position.
First of all, there is the obvious back four, just like it always is. You need one left back and one right back who are capable of being a simple supportive full back. As Norwich, that shouldn't be too hard with the players you have at your disposal. As always, you will need the regular defensive centre backs, but you should be fine with that as you have a fair amount of central defenders in your squad.
In midfield, you will need two wide midfielders, who can both play as supportive wide midfielders or even wingers depending on what sort of style you wish to use. This is followed by two central midfielders - one of which should be defensive, although you could switch to any of the other three possibilities, same with the other, preferrably supportive, central midfielder.
Finally, the strikers. You should, obviously, have two strikers in this formation, and the three direct strikers in the Norwich team are all capable of filling the positions with ease, but you may need another for back up. One of the strikers should be an attacking advanced forward, the other should be a deep lying forward with an eye to support the rest of the attacking players. But, as I said at the beginning, any of the possible roles each player can play should go well together, it just won't be as effective. Just try to use this formation to the players strengths and you should be able to find success.
Squad AnalysisNow I have given you an idea of what tactics are successful with Norwich, it's time to show you the players in the squad and who is the best recommended for each position of the team. It'll also give you some idea of what sort of players to sign, sell and those in your squad you should keep an eye on.
There are enough goalkeepers in the Norwich squad for a respectable back-up. Norwich have good options between the sticks, but one man, namely John Ruddy, is going to be your first choice
Ruddy is 26 years old, and been capped once for his country, England. While this doesn't not sound very impressive compared to Joe Hart, who is younger and has a lot more appearances for his country, Ruddy is a great keeper for Norwich, and was branded one of the best goalkeepers of the 2012-13 season. However, it'll be hard to fight off interest from other clubs after his impressive display last season.
The back-up goalkeepers to Ruddy are 28 year old Englishman Mark Bunn, who joined for £750k last season and picked up 23 appearances for the Canaries, and experienced 39 year old Carlo Nash, who is also an Englishman. He joined Norwich in the summer, and has been at clubs like Everton, Stoke City and Wigan Athletic. This position probably doesn't need strengthening just yet, but when Nash inevitably retires within the next few years, a replacement may be required - which you may want to get sooner rather than later.
There are two left backs in the Norwich main squad, both as good as each other, so it should be interesting for you when you pick your team each week, seeing if either one of them puts in the performance of their lives, hoping to get into the first team.
Left back number one is Sweden's Martin Olsson, aged 25, who played for Blackburn Rovers before moving to Carrow Road for £2.5 million this summer. Olsson is an attacking left back, so would suit the three tactics suggested quite well, although some better than others.
The second left back is Javier Garrido, a 28 year old Spaniard who has picked up no appearances for his country, but that's rather understandable. Garrido joined Norwich this summer after enjoying a loan move in the 2012-13 season from Italian side Lazio. He previously had experience with Manchester City and Real Sociedad. Garrido is an all-around left back, something which could go for or against him. Sebastien Bassong is compatible with this position as well, but isn't as good as his main position and turns out worse at left back that Garrido and Olsson anyway.
In the Norwich squad, there are four centre backs, all with a good shout of a first team place. However, some have more experience than others, so would probably be preferred to those with less experience.
First up is captain Sebastien Bassong, a 26 year old from Cameroon who joined Norwich this summer from Tottenham Hotspur for £3 million. This was definitely a coup buy for the Canaries as he will without a doubt be a great player for the club in game and in real life.
Bassong is followed by Michael Turner, who has been at the club since 2012-13 after joining from Sunderland for £1 million. Turner impressed fans in his 26 appearances and the 29 year old Englishman managed to get on the scoresheet 3 times in the season.
Another centre back at Carrow Road is 22 year old Daniel Ayala, who joined Norwich in 2011-12 from Liverpool for £800,000. The Spaniard was sent on loan last season to Nottingham Forest, but it's up to you whether to send him out again, keep him in the first team or just sell Ayala completely.
The final possible centre back is Ryan Bennett, who signed for the club in 2011-12, joining from Peterborough for £3 million. However, in his two years at the club, he's appeared on the team sheet 23 times, but that could be explained by the number of great centre backs also coming into the team.
Currently there are 2 right backs in the first team for Norwich, both with an eye for first team football - especially in the Premier League. However, your assistant manager will probably tell you that one is better than the other, but to me they are both equal in skill and talent. The first of the two is Scottish new signing Steven Whittaker, who your assistant manager will tell you is worse than the second right back. However, Whittaker is in his prime at 29, and to be signed on a free is nothing short of a bargain. He's extremely versatile, being able to play anywhere between right back to left midfield - though he's at his best at right back.
The other right back is Russell Martin, who is slightly younger than Whittaker, being 27, and has been at the club for a longer time period (since 2009), therefore being more happy and comfortable at the club right away. However, I still believe both right backs are different and both have different qualities. Whoever you decide to choose will perform excellently well for the team, so the choice is very free between both right defenders.
Centre midfielders/Defensive midfielders
Overall, there are 5 central midfielders or defensive midfielders or both in the Norwich first team, so no matter what formation you use, you're going to have to leave some out, which could be tricky considering the ability they all have. Take a look at all 5 players you can possibly choose for your first team, and those who you can cast aside and sell to a smaller club.
First up is 26 year old Bradley Johnson, an Englishman who joined the club for free in 2011's summer. Since then, he has made 65 appearances in the two seasons with the Canaries, will you increase that for him this season? Johnson has great stamina, strength and work rate, something key for a leading midfielder.
Next is Norwegian player Alexander Tettey, aged 27, who joined Norwich in the 2012-13 season from Stade Rennais for £1 million. He made 27 appearances for the club last season, and Tettey is looking to expand this in the coming season. However, it is up to you to let that happen.
Another midfielder in the Norwich side is David Fox, who has been at Carrow Road since the summer of 2010, after joining the club from rivals Colchester United. Fox is 29 years old and not very highly rated by your assistant manager, but he can make a fair bit of money if you decide to sell him. However, he makes a good back-up midfielder if you need him.
Penultimately is highly rated Dutch midfielder Leroy Fer, who joined the club this summer from FC Twente for a fee of £4.2 million. Fer is only 23 and already showing great skill and talent. It'll be very foolish of you to let him go easily within the first few seasons.
Finally there is Jonny Howson, another ex-Leeds player who is aged at just 25. He is an England international yet unsurprisingly he has made no appearances for his country. He's a good player, and should be good back-up and maybe even first team for Norwich, but he may be pushed out of the side due to other great players coming into the team.
There is only 1 left winger in the Norwich squad, and even though only 1 of the recommended tactics requires a left winger, it'll definitely help to buy another one for back-up or for first team. However, left wingers aren't too important for Norwich and you shouldn't spend your entire budget on them.
The only left winger is Irishman Anthony Pilkington, who has been at the club since 2011's summer, after joining from Huddersfield for £2.7 million. He's made 60 appearances for the club, but with possibly another winger now involved, as well as a lack of wingers used in Norwich's tactics, that may well start to increase slower.
As there are with the full backs, there are two right wingers currently available in the team. While there are many others who can play in this position, there are only two who are at their best here, and considering only 1 of the recommended formations requires wingers, it's not too bad that there are just two.
Robert Snodgrass is arguably one of the best players in the team - he's versatile and an all-around attacking midfielder. He joined the Canaries at the start of the 2012-13 season for £1.5 million, a fee that fans are now calling a bargain. It'll be hard to fight off interest for Snodgrass, but if he stays put, he can be amazing for the club.
The other right winger is Elliot Bennett (not related to Ryan), a 24 year old Englishman. Bennett has been at Norwich since the 2011-12 season, making 57 appearances for the club, scoring just 2 goals. Is 2 goals good enough for an attacking winger? That's for you to decide.
Football of today is heavily based on attacking midfielders, most of the great players of this modern football era are attacking midfielders. Norwich do have their fair share of attacking midfielders, if you do take over as the Canaries, you're spoilt for choice really, with 2 direct attacking midfielders - just as good as each other - followed by many, many indirect attacking midfielders who play amazingly well in that position anyway. Robert Snodgrass, Anthony Pilkington, Johan Elmander, Leroy Fer and Jonny Howson are just some examples of indirect attacking midfielders.
First of all is Wes Hoolahan, a recent club great. Hoolahan, 31, has been at Norwich for 5 years, having joined from Blackpool for just £250,000. It's safe to say that the Canaries got their money's worth. Hoolahan has since made 142 appearances for Norwich, scoring 30 goals for the club.
It's old against new in the attacking midfield battle as new signing Nathan Redmond is the other attacking midfielder hungry for appearances. Redmond, only 19, has a huge load of praise dumped on him at such an early age, the pressure must be huge. He cost just £2 million from Birmingham, but he's sure to live up to that price tag and beyond.
This is probably the toughest choice you will make while selecting your team - the attack. With three very strong strikers ready to step up for Norwich and be the leading man, only two can make it into the first team each week, so there are only a few options. Leave one of them as back-up, use a rotation system or sell one of them - despite all of them being new signings or loaned players.
The first striker is Ricky van Wolfswinkel, a 24 year old with huge promise for his Norwich future, having moved to Carrow Road for £8.5 million from Sporting Lisbon. It's a risky move for Norwich, but it'll sure pay off for you in game. The competition he has between the other two strikers will definitely improve van Wolfswinkel's performance on the pitch.
Loanee Johan Elmander has experience in the Premier League, having been at Bolton Wanderers for 3 years before moving on to Galatasaray, where he's now come on loan to Norwich from. Elmander is 32 years of age, but his football is just as good as ever. The Swedish striker has made 70 appearances for nation - he's the perfect player, experience wise.
Finally is England's Gary Hooper, who before going off to Celtic was at Scunthorpe United. Then, this summer Hooper moved to Norwich for £5.25 million, pleasantly surprising fans. However, Hooper is currently injured for a 2-3 month period, causing a long wait between now and his Norwich debut.
Potential WeaknessesEvery team has a weakness somewhere, even if it's just a slight lack of depth in one particular area. You've seen the squad analysis, now you need to find out where to improve your team, and then some extra players you may want to look at.
Position 1 (Left winger)
There's only 1 left winger in the Norwich squad, so you may want to add some depth to that position. However, there are a few players you may want to sign for the team in order to strengthen it in that particular area.
First up is Benfica's Nicolás Gaitán, who can play left winger, right winger and attacking midfielder, and would be an excellent addition to the team. Gaitán, 25, has Champions League experience which could definitely help your team go that extra mile.
Another recommendation I have is Tom Ince, who you may be able to persuade to come to Carrow Road with the right attitude towards the deal. Ince is just 21 and would definitely take the step up from Blackpool to a Premier League side, but it'll take some work to make him a Norwich player.
Finally there is transfer listed Mark González, currently at CSKA Moscow in Russia, who has been nearing a move away from Russia for over a season now. González may not have Champions League experience, but is definitely affordable and still a great player at 28.
That is probably it for the places that need strengthening for this season, but there are always some players who you just want to buy to give your team that extra edge, so here are some recommendations I have:
Everton's 29 year old centre back John Heitinga.
Manchester United's 25 year old centre midfielder Anderson.
33 year old attacking midfielder Yossi Benayoun, who is a free agent.
Dynamo Kyiv's 27 year old centre midfielder Miguel Veloso.
Chelsea's 23 year old left back Ryan Bertrand.
Porto's centre midfielder Steven Defour, aged 25.
Juventus' 29 year old left or right winger Simone Pepe.
Those are just a few suggestions as to who to buy for Norwich, these were under the filters that made the deals possible.
ConclusionIf you have read through this guide in its fullest, you should be able to take Norwich to the next level in football, providing you take some of the advice I have given you. Norwich are a good club, but I'm sure anyone managing them wants to make them great.
If you have any questions, please ask below, I'm more than happy to answer you. You can also state how your Norwich saves are going if you have them - I'm interested to see how people taking my advice turn out.