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The Sir Alex Ferguson Challenge

Started on 8 August 2020 by Aaron
Latest Reply on 24 August 2020 by TheLFCFan

December - Big Improvements

Norwich 5-1 West Brom | Premier League | Sarr x2, Eliasson, Pukki, Hernandez
Aston Villa 0-2 Norwich | Premier League | Pukki, Greenwood
Norwich 1-0 Crystal Palace | Premier League | Pukki
Norwich 3-0 Preston North End | Carabao Cup Quarter Final | Sarr, Stiepermann, Aarons
Burnley 1-5 Norwich | Premier League | Sarr, Buendia, Greenwood x2, Pukki
Manchester United 3-1 Norwich | Premier League | Pukki
Norwich 0-1 Liverpool | Premier League | N/A

A huge month in store for the Christmas period. It's been busy busy busy for us in East Anglia, after a poor run of results it was time to put some serious work in and set the record straight on the league table.

With a quarter final to play against Preston, we completely stomped them into the ground with a huge 3-0 victory which would fire us well into the semi's joining Arsenal who we would play in the next round, plus Manchester City and Southampton.

It was our show stopping premier league performances though that caught the eyes of Norwich fans, rivals too it seems. With two huge 5-1 victories home and away to West Brom and Burnley the boys were in high spirits ready to make a clear statement to the rest of the league that we aren't to be trifled with.

Having joined the club for such a little fee it seems Sarr believes he has some repayments to make to us for giving him the chance to play once again in the Premier League as he became our top scorer for the season so far. Albeit roughly 4 of his 10 goals have been penalties, he's still been the best performer along with loanee Mason Greenwood who I hope to extend on loan for another year.

We continued a fantastic run of form against Palace and Villa which saw us gain 12 points from 12 after a disappointing run in the league involving quite possibly the game of the season against Wolves.

Against Palace, we utterly dominated but we had to wait until the 94th minute to get the winning goal after Palace were penalised not once but twice with red cards for a poorly time Sakho challenge on Cantwell, and a Milivojelic second yellow.

Sometimes you just need that luck and it looked like we might get that against Man United at Old Trafford. Once again we looked like one of the best teams in the league taking the lead through Teemu Pukki which kept us in front for roughly 10 minutes until Martial levelled the score.

We looked like the team most likely to score however come the 80th minute Martial decided to rewrite his own script and win them the game. 90 minutes in, Fred scored a screamer from outside the box really making the game look a lot more one sided than it was. Lucky Manchester United.

Lastly, those ever dominant Reds. Quite pleased to welcome them to Carrow Road and NOT be embarrassed for once, it was Naby Keita's 74th minute goal which separated the two teams. We couldn't do much to counter and were sadly left with nothing but after a big rise on the form table, I remain pleased.

Going into January We're back up to 7th in the table and looking good. The dip in form we had was obviously just a blip and we continue to make headway for those important European places. Is Europa league a stretch too far?

We do go in with a transfer target in mind. Ahmed Kutucu from Schalke who would fit perfectly into the squad as one of my two pressing forwards. Pukki is a good player but at 30 years old I feel I can get a decent fee for him and replace him with much better and much younger.

We will try for Ahmed on loan as we currently don't have the funds to sign a player of his quality but if not, come summer things might be a little different.
Oh yeah yeah
The Pukki Party is in town!

January - Mid-Season Mediocrity

Bournemouth 2-2 Norwich | FA Cup 3rd Round | Pukki, Aarons
Arsenal 3-2 Norwich | Carabao Cup Semi Final Leg 1 | Sarr, Hernandez
Norwich 2-0 Huddersfield Town | Premier League | Juan Diaz, Buendia
Norwich 2-1 Bournemouth | FA Cup 3rd Round Replay | Stiepermann, Greenwood
Brighton 2-1 Norwich | Premier League | Buendia
Norwich 1-4 Manchester United | Premier League | Pukki
Arsenal 1-1 Norwich | FA Cup 4th Round | Eliasson
Norwich 3-1 Leicester City | Carabao Cup Semi Final Leg 2 | Pukki, Cantwell, Stiepermann
Leicester 0-2 Norwich | Premier League | Eliasson, Greenwood

Balls deep into our first full season, we finally hit the new year of 2021. Boy, 2020 was a shit show huh? Enough of that though, what a roller coaster i have to bring to you now!

We've featured in 9 games this month, probably more than any team in England due to our semi finals and FA Cup replays. Sure is congested this English fixture list huh? Maybe Klopp had a point.

We drew Bournemouth in the FA Cup who in recent times have been a bit of an arse ache to play against. Spawny as ever they managed to get themselves 1-0 up in the first match before a Pukki equaliser. Again they scored but showing strong mentality we found a reply through Max Aarons and kept ourselves in the cup for a home tie.

The home tie was a different ball game, WE were the first to finally take the lead against the South West Cherries thanks to a Greenwood header. a few moments later Callum Wilson (a real thorn in our side) would equalise. We held onto the ball for the majority of the game and as Buendia made way for Stiepermann, the German made way onto the field to put home a well struck shot into the top corner in the 91st minute.

It would be Arsenal to play next, the same team we played in the Carabao Cup semi final so a draw here would see us play the gunners 4 times in less than a month. Ball ache. Draw we did, as we went to the Emirates and went a goal behind we managed to keep ourselves in the game with an important goal from Eliasson. The home replay will be played on the 2nd of next month.

Onto the Semi's though as you're all dying to know how we got on. Firstly, it was to the Emirates once more where a fully fledged Arsenal would hit the ground running with 2 goals in the first half. Desperate to keep us in it, Sarr was able to get one back before half time.

Arsenal would only go onto score a third in the second half but towards the end of the match Hernandez would win and then take one of the most important penalties he might ever have.

3-2 on the night which meant with Arsenal to come to Carrow road, it was still all to play for.

I was nervous before this one and despite playing them twice already I still wasn't sure what to expect. The last two games were very different in truth. Arsenal dominated one of them, the other was a stale mate. Safe to say we came out of the blocks charging here as Pukki blasted home to take the lead ten minutes before new signing Wanderson ran onto a tap in after Parades hit the post from his penalty.

That would be the only goal Arsenal would get though. Stiepermann who has been fantastic in the absence of an injured Buendia scored just minutes after Wanderson, and Cantwell stepped up to get the winner on a day we'll always remember as the one we made it to the league cup final!

A game against Manchester City in the final beckons...

As for our league form, quite on and off. We picked up two wins against Leicester and Huddersfield which were both fairly routine performances.

The United game rankled a bit. Another one against these bastards where we take shot after shot and miss every single one entirely. 2 late goals once again made it look like a one sided affair although it was far from that.

Rashford and Martial though I have to say ran us riot and fair play to them both.

Dead middle. Better than I expected us to do at this stage of the season but now we've set a precedent I believe that with less congestion in the coming weeks we may be able to kick on and push for a higher spot in the table.

See you next month where we get underway in our first ever final!
Aaron's avatar Group Aaron
1 yearEdited

February - First Final!

Norwich 3-1 Arsenal | FA Cup 4th Round Replay | O'Connell, Greenwood, Godfrey
Norwich 4-1 Manchester City | Premier League | Pukki x2, Greenwood x2
Newcastle 1-4 Norwich | Premier League | Pukki x2, Eliasson, Cantwell
Norwich 3-0 Burnley | Premier League | Pukki x2, Greenwood
Crystal Palace 1-3 Norwich | Premier League | Eliasson, Stiepermann
Manchester City 3-2 Norwich | Carabao Cup Final | Pukki, Greenwood

The biggest selection of games in my tenure at Norwich since I joined, all overshadowed by one in particular, the Carabao Cup final. Before we get there though, lets take a look at our league form, and FA Cup run.

Of course our first game in February was the one I mentioned before, the FA Cup 4th Round Replay against Arsenal for the fourth time in under a month. We welcomed the Gunners to Carrow Road once again to battle it out for a place in the FA Cup 5th round.

Clearly after beating them in the League Cup Semi Final, Arsenal's ego was damaged. A little too damaged you might say as they failed to capitalise on any of our early celebrations. Another 3-1 win had Norwich fans in raptures once more. Exactly the same as last time, we scored, they equalised, and we ran away with it. Mirror image.

Since the last win against Leicester in the league we've been nothing short of perfect winning all games available in February including an absolute romping of Manchester City who had absolutely no answer to FOUR goals in a 10/10 performance from our Pukki + Greenwood duo who this month have been on fire.

Newcastle (who we would play in the FA Cup 5th round) Crystal Palace and whipping boys Burnley would all succumb next to our wrath just as they did in the first round of the exact same 3 fixtures. Again Pukki and Greenwood were banging in the goals as cameos from Cantwell, Eliasson and Stiepermann made the scoresheet.

But last up was the big one, Manchester City in our first ever final with Norwich. The aim of this save is to not just win but win big so where better to start than the first trophy available to us?

We beat City 4-1 just 2 weeks prior to the final and obviously I was confident. Greenwood gave us the lead inside 3 minutes against his parent clubs big rivals and already we were flying.

A minute later City were all over the ball whipping it around the field like a 2008 Barcelona as sometimes is the way of FM after you've just scored. I saw the goal coming a mile off and it came, Aguero from a few yards out. 1-1.

Mendy would give City the lead before half time and after a grilling (despite a super performance) the boys made way back out onto the pitch for the second half and levelled the score from a corner 15 minutes later. Pukki cropping up once again.

Our hopes and dreams were smashed again as John Stones blasted the ball into the back of the net from a scrappy corner, and despite at one point shoving Godfrey up top to equal a 5 pronged attack, we couldn't make the 3rd breakthrough we so desperately needed.

Heartbreak for all Canaries but it's an experience we would learn from.

Up to third in the league. Despite a few games in hand elsewhere to be here at this stage of the season is unbelievable. Let me bring your attention to the goals tally too. We have more goals than anyone in the league this season barring only top of the league Liverpool.

Just need to cut out those mistakes at the back which I believe are more to do with the fact we rarely have a full strength defence than it not being good enough. Oh well, back to the training ground.

Signing out...Aaron.

March - Another Semi!

Newcastle United 1-4 Norwich | FA Cup 5th Round | Pukki x2, Greenwood x2
Norwich 2-0 Aston Villa | Premier League | Greenwood x2
West Brom 2-1 Norwich | Premier League | Cantwell
Norwich 2-1 Everton | FA Cup Quarter Final | Godfrey, O'Connell

A short month this time around with a fairly poor crop of players coming through the ranks towards the end...In fact, so poor we ended up not actually signing a single one of them to a pre-contract. I expect better from a team such as ourselves, we've one of the best coaching systems in the country and we're bringing through utter pish to the table and it's not good enough.

Regardless, we had games to play. 2 Premier league fixtures against Villa and West Brom. The first against Villa was as routine as they come running out 2-0 victors with 2 goals from the wonderkid himself Mason Greenwood. I'm really enjoying this boy at the club and despite not fitting the role very well up top he still defies odds and scores week in week out.

It's just a shame United refused to extend his loan.

The standout result is obviously the loss to West Brom and honestly I've no idea how this even happened. We were in control of this game the whole way through and took the lead 75 minutes in. Only being 1 goal behind West Brom still looked dead and buried but out of no where Matheus Pereira bags an equaliser in the 89th minute.

When the 95th minute came round and a highlight appeared, I knew exactly what was coming but never did I expect the manner in which it happened. Tom Cleverly of all people to strike a pea roller from 20 yards into the bottom right mesmerising Nick Pope and flying past every defender.

Just one of those days I guess.

The FA Cup run though gave us much more to celebrate with another big win against our very own whipping boys Newcastle United and ever mediocre Everton sealing a place in the semi final where we would be pitted against the Toffees Merseyside rivals...Not again!

Onto other big news, as for the tycoon...It crashed and burned, but there is more. Things picked up again and eventually Delia Smith sold to a consortium who came in and instantly emailed myself to inform me they'd be injecting 10M into the coffers, and spending 20M on new youth and senior training facilities.

As for the league, we've a game in hand against Arsenal and with a win we could all but secure Europa league football for next season. We are chasing 4th place still but it will take a mammoth effort to reach in there and with Arsenal still to play, it looks like one way or another we will be playing a form of football in Europe next year.

Depth needed...
That November was horrifically poor but you have turned it around massively recently and now pushing that top four with a few games to go is excellent, especially in just season two. We could also see the first challenge completed early with that FA Cup. It's going to be a tough semi-final, but if you can get past them, maybe just maybe you are a year or two ahead of schedule.
Seb: Liverpool are the bench mark as we all know. Knocking them out will be the key to any success we have no matter what competition we might play in. Turning things around from November was very important, I think it was a lapse in cohesion/complacency maybe but we seemed to rectify that going forward. Seems to me our main issue now is squad depth!

April - Europe Beckons

Everton 1-3 Norwich | Premier League | Buendia x2, Eliasson
Norwich 5-1 Arsenal | Premier League | Buendia, Eliasson, Greenwood x3
Norwich 2-2 Bournemouth | Premier League | Greenwood, Hanley
Norwich 0-3 Liverpool | FA Cup Semi Final | N/A
Wolves 0-4 Norwich | Premier League | Greenwood x3, Zimmerman
West Ham United 2-2 Norwich | Premier League | Eliasson, Cantwell

Coasting away into the sunset, we've looked top of the range all month beginning against Everton after our FA Cup battle which ended with us as the victors. Buendia once again putting in a performance of the highest quality as he has done all season.

Emi has been so good this season that he's been tipped by many to win the English Footballer of the Year award. Something I can certainly say would be fully deserved and if it so turns out to end with that result, few will be able to complain.

We did come up against the Reds, who were confirmed this month as English Champions for the second time in a row. Another Premier League ties them for titles with Manchester United.

It was always going to be an uphill struggle to find a way past Liverpool and had we done so I fully believe we'd have made it to the final and won. Liverpool are the benchmark, I say it time and time again. They're so difficult to beat and if I'm to get anywhere with this challenge I believe one of the hardest tasks in any edition of football manager will have to be dealt with quickly.

Dare I even say it...Knocking Liverpool back off their perch.

That leaves a sour taste.

We battered Arsenal, playing them for a 6th time and I'm glad that I'll be able to call it a last for the season. It's always nice to come up against a team you continue to beat but I like some variety. Playing the same team over and over can get boring.

Beating Arsenal really does all but confirm our place in the Europa league, with draws against Bournemouth and West Ham I believe we've tallied enough points up to stave Arsenal off who sit in 7th at the moment.

Greenwood to everyones surprise has made a late bid for the golden boot award with a hattrick against Arsenal and Wolves that I believe puts him up to roughly 20 goals for the season, 3 off of Liverpool's Lautaro Martinez.

Sadly I feel the Champions League spots are well beyond us, there's too little room for City to slip up and I think there's another stumblind block in our way yet with spurs and chelsea both still to play. We are 6 points clear of Arsenal though and I believe that should just be enough.

Here's hoping.

May - Walking In A Wonderland

Norwich 3-0 Brentford | Premier League | Godfrey, Pukki, Buendia
Tottenham Hotspur 6-2 Norwich | Premier League | Cantwell, Greenwood
Norwich 7-1 Chelsea | Premier League | Greenwood x3, Buendia x2, Sarr, Idah

We end the season with a 3 match run in involving 2 wins and a loss. I'm not going to talk much about the games as on the whole they're quite irrelevant. Lets talk about that Chelsea one though shall we.

4-1 up we were by the 28th minute, I had gotten up to run to the toilet at the beginning of the game and came back to see that we had absolutely romped the Blues once again in less than a single half of football.

Mason Greenwood was on fire scoring his 3rd hattrick in almost as many weeks which enabled him to prop himself just beneath Martinez in the top scorers list with 25 goals. Martinez has won the golden boot on 27 goals.

As you can see Greenwood and Buendia have both been in leagues of their own in this team, really standing out from the rest and as I said before, one of them looking like he might be about to get awarded the player of the year.

With 13 assists, 14 goals and NINE man of the match appearances in 33 games, Emi Buendia has run the league by himself helping us notch a massive 93 goals which is second to only the title winners who scored exactly 100 goals.

The fact we've managed to score this many goals over the course of a season and only managed to come 6th in the table is astounding but also goes to show just one thing. Our defence needs to improve.

In general I believe our initial back 4 to be as strong as most in world football but where Lewis has needed resting, godfrey has been suspended, and Aarons has been injured we've on occasion been unable to field a full strength defence.

One thing I want to look at this summer is bringing in a new top centre back as a rotation option for Godfrey and O'Connell. With Byram a strong stand in at right back and Neil looking like one of the hottest fullback prospects in the game the back end of our flanks seem to me like they're in good hands.

I'd also like to pick up a young new goalkeeper in the window to become Pope's understudy. Nick was fantastic this year but eventually his career will begin to whittle down and someone will need to take his place. If we can't find the right hot prospect, a cheap stand in will do for one more year.

With Greenwood on the way back to United and Pukki ageing more and more as the months go by I believe it's more of a priority to be looking for 2 top of the range hard working strikers to form a world class partnership up front. We've got 80 million in the bank to find our two men. Ahmed Kutucu remains on my list of targets but for 40 million, I'm not so sure. Hopefully we can bring that value down.

In more awards news, Emi Buendia has stunned us all by winning THREE individual awards for the season. These include:

Player's Player of the Year
Player's Young Player of the Year
English Player of the Year

A truly incredible season from the Argentine and it'll live long in the memory I'm sure.

Now lets take a look at all of the competition winners.

FA Community Shield: Manchester City
English League Cup: Manchester City
FA Cup: Liverpool
Barclays Premier League: Liverpool
UEFA Champions League: Liverpool
UEFA Super Cup: Atletico Madrid
FIFA Club World Cup: Atletico Madrid

A lot of catching up to do. No surprise to see City and Liverpool all over this list but definitely a pleasant site to see Atletico getting a little recognition for their achievements!

See you after summer.
Nice! Following
A fantastic season and what a beautiful way to end it against Chelsea! As your departing chairwoman would say, let's be 'avin you!
Oh yeah yeah

Pre-Season - The Ins and Outs

The countdown to our second full season in the Premier League can now finally begin with all our friendlies played, new additions signed and just one more week to go before we come up against the Newly promoted Leeds United at Carrow road.

With 80M in the kitty for us to solidify our squad for European Football we had a month to send out our scouts far and wide and another to arrange the deals we were interested in making. A lot of ins and outs have been made official this month with the most notable departure being our ever present playmaking German Tim Trybull who leaves for Hoffenheim on an £11.75M deal.

With some extra money in the pot I decided to try my luck with Ahmed Kutucu, a player who suits our tactic down to the ground and I know for sure if I could get him he'd tear the Premier League apart. I tested the waters with a 20M bid given in January Schalke were asking for 40M but maybe that was just because it was mid season, they accepted on the spot.

Kutucu Signed on the dotted line and became Norwich player for the next 4 years.

Our second signing of the summer to most fans would maybe seem a little less inspiring but given his preferred role and ability I felt bringing Flynn Downes to the club for 3.9M would be a similar transfer to Herbie Kane. A cheap squad player we'll be able to make a lot of money off in the future. He won't get a great deal of game time to begin with but as the FA Cup kicks in and we remain in (touch wood) Europe, he should be called upon and some stage.

Then in came Boubacar Kamara from Marseille. Now I want to try and sign as many players as possible that I haven't managed before but I know just how good Boubacar can be and for just 15M well...As a rotation option in the back 4 it really was a bit of a steal.

Our very own answer to Virgil Van Dijk I believe.

With Trybull leaving and just Kane and Downes occupying spaces for the centre of the park I felt like it was time to invest in someone that could really push us to a new level to play with the big boys. So off I went in search of a man to fill that spot and a 33M deal for Koopmeiners was almost sealed before he instead opted for a move to Roma.

I continued to look around and found a few options but none better than this man for 25M.

Marco Kana, 18 years of age. Belgiums answer to Camavinga and also a hell of a lot cheaper. To prize him away from Rennes would cost 74M as Juventus would later find out.

Kana even at the age of 18 will go straight into the first team with the intention of taking us to new heights.

We had little money left to spend on another elite level striker and you may ask "Well why spend it on other areas?" my answer would be, the right players weren't available.

And they weren't, no one that fit the tactics was available in our price range. Only Kutuhu fit the system until I found Aaron Connolly. Now I did want someone a little better but Aaron fits the system and will come in for 10M playing second fiddle to Pukki who's work rate and finishing earns him another season with us in the first team. He got us into Europe so lets repay that.

Our last big signing of the summer came for relatively cheap. Exequiel Zeballos for 5M. We all know how good this guy can be and I've also never managed him so for such a cheap fee I thought how could I turn it down? He did fail to gain a work permit and I've been trying to loan him out to Spain but so far no one has taken the bait.

He'll remain at Norwich and play in Europe for the time being until I can figure something out a little more concrete.

One more edition was yet to be made, and that would be a goalkeeper for 1.6M. I believe for that price at the age of 23 we've gotten a really good deal considering he's now valued at 8 before setting foot on the pitch for us. In time I'm sure he can overtake Pope for the number 1 but he'll have to work very hard and impress me in the games I do give him.

Cup duty for you my friend.

That wraps up this summers deals then. A brilliant window if I do say so myself and with the addition of the players we already have I really believe top 4 is on the horizon.

With Leeds, Liverpool, Newcastle and United all to play next month I believe we're about to find out!

Stay tuned.

August - Slow Start

Norwich 5-1 Leeds United | Premier League | Pukki x3, Sarr, Connolly
Liverpool 2-4 Norwich | Premier League | Kutucu, Cantwell, Sarr x2
Newcastle United 3-2 Norwich | Premier League | Kutucu, Lewis
Norwich 0-3 Manchester United | Premier League | N/A

A slow start at the beginning of the season in which we've had a tough test of our resolve playing both Man United and Liverpool in the first 4 games. Our first game though came against new boys Leeds United who we put to the sword with minimal effort at all.

A return for Pukki meant a hat-trick performance in what was an extremely one sided game. Kutucu was off the mark in his assists tally setting Pukki up for 2 of his goals and Connolly scored his debut goal after replacing Ahmed in the second half.

Sarr finished off a wonderful performance and we went top of the league.

The Reds next who we haven't managed to beat since I joined the club but this time would be very different. A goal for Sarr in the first 3 minutes put us ahead before Pukki directed a header past Alisson and made us 2 goals to the good.

Liverpool got one back through youngster Harvey Elliot only for Sarr to reply with a brace. 2 minutes later Liverpool made it 3-2, but were powerless to our efforts in defence as Cantwell finished things off with a penalty in the 80th minute.

I'm not entirely sure what happened against Newcastle. Perhaps beating the European and English Champions had gotten to our heads but within 4 minutes it was 2-0 to them, and we couldn't find proper way back into the match. We were abysmal all game and I made my feelings known.

Lastly was United who we've also struggled to beat in recent times and again we would fail to do so putting in a slack performance.

3-0 in the end to the Red Devils as strike pairing Martial and Rashford ran us riot. I really am sick of them both.

I should be in high spirits after beating Liverpool, I hadn't expected to get much against United anyway but that Newcastle result has really been a massive stain on things. A game we really should have won and I have to figure out why we didn't quickly.

With Europa League and cup football soon to kick in things will only get harder.

I don't know whether we need a plan b or our new signings are struggling to settle but we are leaking way too many goals at the back and it's F**king infuriating to say the least. Here's hoping for better next month.

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