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The Sir Alex Ferguson Challenge

Started on 8 August 2020 by Aaron
Latest Reply on 24 August 2020 by TheLFCFan
Some great signings in the recent window. A focus on young and hungry talent that will take Norwich to the next level. Katucu has started brightly and Connolly has also got on the scoresheet. Kamara is a player I've managed before and he was a very tidy player.
Oh yeah yeah
Just binge-read the past 2 season, congrats of first saving Norwich and then going straight to Europe. Really nice signings although I also bought Downes & Eliasson and I think they are short of PL potential, we will see. Norwich has great potential in the face of young prospective players such as Idah, Buendia & Cantwell and are looking like really fun team to manage.

You can use Kana as right back also with his stats :D

September - Short Of The Mark

Sheffield United 3-3 Norwich | Premier League | Sarr, Buendia, Kutucu
Napoli 1-3 Norwich | Europa League Group G | Sarr x2, Kana
Norwich 2-0 Tottenham Hotspur | Premier League | Buendia, Eliasson
Wigan 1-6 Norwich | Carabao Cup | Pukki x3. Downes, Godfrey, Buendia
Watford 1-0 Norwich | Premier League | N/A
Norwich 5-0 Galatasaray | Europa League Group G | Eliasson x2, Pukki, Connolly, Kamara

Our first month in Europe was met with wonderful performances as we took on 2 European regulars in the form of Galatasaray and Napoli. Well up against it in Naples no one had expected us to go into the game and win but that's exactly what we did running the Partenopei riot for 90 minutes as they failed to correctly respond to our 3 goals.

Sarr and Buendia were the star men getting the first two goals in the first half of the match before Ahmed Kutucu scored from inside the 6 yard box to finish the Italians off in their own backyard.

In the Premier League we were an assorted mix. Beating big boys Spurs once again at Carrow Road although coming up against both new boys Watford and Sheffield and gaining only 1 point in total. We had to take the lead 3 times against Sheffield before they equalised late on. Lys Mousset running us ragged all game long was not something I had expected to see.

We lacked even our regular goalscoring touch against Watford failing to score despite registering nearly 25 shots on goal and left empty handed as the hornets laughed us off the field.

Our defence has been nothing short of shite these first two months of football and I don't know where we're going wrong. We've kept 1 clean sheet in the league so far and in the rest of our games we've conceded 2-3+ goals in all of them.

It's absolutely woeful and I'm frantically searching for a solution but in the mean time, goals are what will win us games I guess.

8th in the table isn't bad but I can't help but feel like our bad run of league form came straight after the Liverpool result because of my over ambitious thoughts.

Beating them really would go a long way in a title challenge and my thinking was well if we can do it at Anfield, why can't we do it elsewhere and at least challenge for the title? My bad I guess. We come back down to earth and sit just off the top 4 spots which I will be aiming to get back into asap.
A very impressive start in Europe against well-established sides. I think to be disappointed with the month you've had, a month that features just one defeat and a victory against Spurs, shows how far you have come in very little time.
You're doing extremely well, better than I thought you would. I'm enjoying your destructions of Arsenal and Chelsea in particular. Keep it up!

And you've inspired me to crack on with my SAF challenge.
Scott: My main issue with things this month was in the league. Slipping up in places we simply shouldn't be is rather annoying. Wins in europe are all well and good but we want to be there next season too.

SonsOfAnarchy: I can't believe how often we're destroying some of the big 6! I'm glad I could be the catalyst for you to continue!

October - A slippery Slope

Norwich 3-1 West Brom | Premier League | Eliasson, Pukki x2
Wolves 1-1 Norwich | Premier League | Sarr
PAOK 2-0 Norwich | Europa League Group G | N/A
Norwich 3-3 Manchester City | Premier League | Sarr, Stones (OG), Connolly
Chelsea 1-5 Norwich | Carabao Cup | Aarons, Kutucu, Buendia, Pukki x2
Bournemouth 1-1 Norwich | Premier League | Connolly

When you continue to let your performances downgrade, your form will suffer always and it becomes a slippery slope from the top. Still early in the season we have all the chance to easily make our way back into the top 4 or thereabouts with just a few extra points but in the Premier league it seems we are learning that things aren't always that simple.

Performances in the cup have only continued to improve though as we battered Chelsea 5-1 at Stamford Bridge with Pukki running 2 through Kepa to seal off a wonderful victory. That's now 12 goals against Chelsea in the last two games and they just cannot seem to beat us.

we will play their London Rivals Arsenal in the coming weeks for a spot in the Semi Finals. Another trip to Wembley in the League Cup is what we all want, the chance to set the record straight.

We played one game in the Europa League and went in with a weakened side in aid of resting others for the City and Chelsea matches and still to my shock we were well beaten by the Greeks at their ground 2-0. We showed no sign of threat all game and fairly, became undone.

Our league form continued to take a beating as we drew 3 of 4 games. Beating West Brom was a must after poor league performances in the month before but the Wolves game disappointed me as we had been the better team all game.

Man City were obviously very good and twice we looked as though we might lose the game, although at one point we went 2-1 up and things changed quickly. It was down to substitute Aaron Connolly to level the score late on and give us point in another high scoring match.

Again Bournemouth nearly got the better of us, we went 1-0 down despite dominating for most of the game and luckily Connolly once again was on hand to spare our blushes. Without him we'd be in the gutter in terms of form.

Because of the Irishman though, we remain unbeaten in the league for 4 games and counting.

We remain 8th in the table just one spot from Europe so we're still keeping up with the big lads up in front but form has to improve if we're to get anywhere near Champions League football.

In other news, a new arrival is set to join us on the 1st of Jan.

2 in fact, as I forgot to previously mention another just after the window ended. Firstly, Karel Kalina from Hradec Kralove (I dont know either) who is a winger from the Czech Republic who only cost us around 1M to bring to the club. Already he looks like in just a few years he could overtake the likes of Sarr, and I can't wait to fit him into the team.

Next is my initial first choice before I signed Nick Pope. I really wanted to replace Tim Krul at first with Dean Henderson but he demanded a huge fee of about 40M at the time and there was just no way we could afford this.

However recently it came to my attention that his contract was running down and he may be available for very cheap. 1.7M up front with instalments that could take the deal up to 4.2M and he will come in as our first choice straight off the bat no questions asked. I will be looking to get shot of Pope quickly as he's a good guy and I'd prefer not to upset him. He's been a great servant to us and deserves more than back up football.

Aston Villa's Steven Gerrard has been keeping tabs on him...

woooo nice season soon later you gonna win the pl but buendia is a beast with greenwood
The added distraction of Europe has probably been a major influence in the drop off of results compared to the league last season, but there is still good signs. Still only three points off the European spots and six of the Champions League with a large number of games yet to play. The addition of Dean Henderson will only improve you in the second half of the season as well. Very good work in Europe and I think you are building something exciting here..
Deadzpool: I hope so mate!

Seb: So do I, it can be frustrating dropping so many points but I have to remain calm and remember that we're in Europe for the first time ever and we've made a lot of signings that will obviously need time to gel correctly. I hope by January sort of time we look like more of a team.

November - Into The Knock-Outs

Norwich 2-0 PAOK | Europa League Group G | Sarr, Pukki
Norwich 3-0 Brighton | Premier League | Aarons, Kamara, Connolly
Aston Villa 1-1 Norwich | Premier League | Buendia
Norwich 1-0 Napoli | Europa League Group G | Eliasson
Norwich 4-3 Arsenal | Premier League | Kamara, Sarr, Buendia, Kana

What a month! Astronomically better in contrast to the last few, we've been absolutely fantastic this month picking up better results in the Premier League and also making our way into the Europa League 2nd knockout round with relative ease.

In October PAOK beat us 2-0 in Greece and our next European fixture was to play them again but this time at home. We made sure that this time would be different as it should have been in the first place. Sarr and Pukki both got the goals which took us up to 9 points in the group leaving us just the one point off qualification.

Our next Europa League game came against Napoli who when you think about it in comparison to us should be topping this group on paper given their quality and European pedigree but once again they were well beaten by us just as they were at their own ground.

Eliassonn sealed the Partenopei's fate for the match and we passed into the knockouts with flying colours.

I stated a great importance on doing better in the league and despite a disappointing draw to Aston Villa in a game we really should have won I'm pleased to say we've come out with more wins than draws in the league in what feels like forever.

The Brighton game was very routine, we absolutely battered Hove and Kamara with our third goal scored an absolute screamer. I've had a little tactical change in recent weeks since the Chelsea game and I believe I moved Kamara up mid game into the defensive midfield roll in which he was able to get forward and show his prowess in front of the net.

The Arsenal game would be (another) contender for game of the season. We seem to have a lot of these.

Let me run you through the basic time line of the match. Hector Bellerin scored 11 minutes in after what could be considered an awful display in defence. At the back end we soon sure'd ourselves up and solidified enabling us to make it to the second half at just 1-0.

Three minutes in Kamara scored a lovely header from a corner, and just 2 minutes later Marco Kana put us 2-1 up from close range. We spent 10 minutes in the lead, and wonderkid Bukayo Saka broke through the defence and levelled the score.

All the way up to the 88th minute things were looking quiet but all of a sudden the game proved it had something else in score as Maitland-Niles sent the away stand into raptures putting the Gunners 3-2 up.

Clearly still celebrating just 2 minutes later Ismaila Sarr caught Tierney at left back completely off guard by running onto a beautiful pass over the top from Aaron Connolly, tucking home the equaliser.

Thinking we'd escaped with a point, there was more to come. Nick Pope picked up the ball in his box, looks up for about a second and thunders a drop kick up the field to Buendia in the middle of the park who had all the time in space in the world.

With no one else on the pitch you'd rather it came too, he burst forward and dribbled quickly past Niles giving himself the chance to smash home a driven shot into Leno's bottom right corner in the 95th minute...One of the most incredible games we'll watch all season!!

Sadly, I completely forgot to take screenshots of the league tables but I remember where we were. We sat 5th just 3 points behind Bournemouth who were 4th and obviously qualified top of the Europa League group.

In other news I want to bring to your attention a couple of players we got in the first ever youth intake at Norwich!

Now if you recall, both of these players came through our academy in the first year with Juan DIaz looking like the best of the bunch. Unhappy with his finishing ability I decided he wasn't yet good enough for Premier League football so despite making 21 league apps for us in the first two years, he has been out on loan with QPR this year where he has scored 7 goals in 26 apps.

Initially, he didn't have a place in my squad due to the fact he simply wasn't the type of player that fit my tactics but since our little tactical change it seems he'll almost definitely have a future here at Norwich.

Tommy Neil never looked brilliant to begin with and technically, still doesn't but those mental and Physical stats are what earned him a spot as Jamal Lewis' understudy and I'm pleased to report that whenever he's played (30 apps in the league) he's been fantastic and showed signs of improvement ever since joining the club, putting in the best performances in training nearly every single week for 2 years.

A very dedicated player.

December - Draws Galore

Norwich 0-0 Chelsea | Premier League | N/A
Crystal Palace 1-1 Norwich | Premier League | Kamara
Galatasaray 0-1 Norwich | Europa League Group G | Sarr
Norwich 6-1 West Ham | Premier League | Pukki x3, Kutucu x2, Kamara
Norwich 3-1 Arsenal | Premier League | Kutucu, Buendia, Sarr
Everton 1-2 Norwich | Premier League | Buendia
Norwich 0-0 Leicester City | Premier League | N/A
Manchester City 0-0 Norwich | Premier League | N/A

In recent times all we seem to be doing is drawing games non stop and I can't quite figure out what our issue is. In the cup and in Europe always on our top game but in the league we're lacking the final touches. When you see we haven't lost in 16 games it's clear to see we're making progress and we are infact a fantastic team but we just need to make that extra step in order to turn those draws into wins.

This game now is all about mentality. The team has got enough quality to be challenging for top 4 football without a doubt but if we don't want it enough, how are we ever going to compete? The effort we put in needs to always be 110%, if we do that then the rest will take care of itself.

One saving grace of dropping away from the top 4 is that we're in the Europa league which will qualify you for the Champions League if you win it. Now there are some wonderful teams in this competition and we'll be hard pressed all the way if we want to win it but I believe we can do it.

After this month, we've got a long one in January with new arrivals coming in and a few more cup games to play. We have to be at our best and manage player fatigue well enough to see us through to the end of it where the fixture list will start to slow down for the run in of the football season.

One thing I was pleased about this time round was the defence. Although we didn't score against City and Chelsea we also didn't concede, neither did we to leicester and we let in a lot less goals than we have done in the past weeks so maybe that's a sign of things to come.

All these 3-3 draws are exciting but I want to win, and do so comfortably.

We're now only 4 points off top 4 with Bournemouth surprisingly occupying that last spot. A couple more wins will hopefully see the Cherries drop off and us leap frog them, the toon and chelsea.

We've done really well to remain in contention for Champions League but it's quite annoying to think that just 2 extra wins instead of draws and we'd be 4th.

January - Cup Crash

Norwich 1-1 Brentford | FA Cup Round 3 | Lewis
Norwich 2-3 Manhester City | Carabao Cup Semi Final Leg 1 | Lewis, Pukki
West Brom 1-1 Norwich | Premier League | Kutucu
Brentford 0-4 Norwich | Premier League | Sarr x2, Connolly, Pukki
Norwich 1-0 Wolves | Premier League | Pukki
Leicester City 3-1 Norwich | Premier League | Eliasson, Pukki, Connolly
Liverpool 2-0 Norwich | FA Cup 4th Round | N/A
Manchester City 0-0 Norwich | Premier League | N/A
Norwich 1-1 Liverpool | Premier League | Alisson (OG)

As is the nature of this challenge we are always looking to do well in the cups and win as much as possible. We've now shown two fantastic showings in the League Cup in the last two years only being knocked out by one of the best teams in the country, Man City.

Last season we crashed out to them in the final as they went on to lift the trophy, and the same again happened this month only in the Semi finals. It was a poor first leg performance from us but like last years semi final we were able to keep ourselves in the tie for us to put in a wonderful performance at the Eithad, with putting it in the back of the net being our only issue.

We then crashed out to Liverpool in the FA Cup. After it took us two games to beat Brentford we managed to get a tie against the Reds who well and truly toppled us in what was a pretty one sided affair in which Harvey Elliot ran us ragged for 90 minutes straight.

Our league form however has seen an upturn. With two wins in a row against Wolves and Leicester and a point against top of the league Liverpool at home we've put ourselves in a commanding position to challenge Chelsea for that elusive top 4 spot.

Our strikers have been on top form the start of this year with Connolly going well and truly under my radar. With 5 goals in 8 starts for us I feel like maybe he just hasn't been given enough game time and as the games go by in the next few weeks I want to get him on the pitch more often.

As you remember I mentioned Juan Diaz on loan at QPR in the last post. Well toward the end of January while Barcelona were trying to poach the Spanish international we managed to extend his contract for a massive wage packet of 70K, and I recalled him to the club to gain important game time.

Since then he's played in 1 game being the last against Liverpool and put in a solid display. Lets see if he repays my faith and the contract...It's a risky move to say the least but I wasn't about to see our hottest academy talent be poached by the Catalans.

No chance.
Pretty gutting to crash out in both cups but at least league form has been promising.

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