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Neil’s cunning Canaries dealings a boost for survival search

| 21.01.2016

Lee Gormley | January 19, 2016

Clever Canaries moves aids relegation fears

Alex Neil’s Norwich City are in the heat of battle, fighting relentlessly to avoid an immediate return to the Championship, and recent transfer dealings from the Canaries boss are a huge cause for confidence and optimism in their bid to retain Premier League status.

The Norfolk outfit overcame the lottery that is the Championship play-offs to make a comeback to England’s top-flight last year and have since held their own regularly against the big boys, but find themselves engrossed in a daunting tussle to remain there.

Manchester United v Norwich City - Barclays Premier League - Old Trafford

Norwich currently sit narrowly above the drop zone – neck and neck with last season’s Championship winners Bournemouth, while other promoted side Watford look further up the table at a top 10 finish – and are 7/4 with Coral to go down.

Although, with rock-bottom strugglers Aston Villa looking increasingly unlikely of staging a recovery, Swansea City in transition with a newly-appointed boss and both Northeast clubs contesting just below them, an odds-on 4/11 for Norwich to stay up is promising, especially with new arrivals.

Norwich Klose to survival after acquisitions

In the context of this unpredictable top tier season, Norwich have done themselves justice to remain above the bottom three positions, and Neil’s latest acquisitions will only improve upon what is an already solid squad of players.

PSV Eindhoven vs VfL Wolfsburg

Most recently the Canaries faithful witnessed the promising singing of Switzerland international defender Timm Klose for an undisclosed fee from Bundesliga giants Wolfsburg, and he’s a new star that fans can get excited about, among others.

The 27-year-old defender put pen to paper on a three-and-a-half year contract with the club, having made 39 appearances for Die Wolfe in all competitions, and the Swiss centre back is now relishing a “dream” opportunity.

“It was always a dream to play in the Premier League and Norwich have given me a big chance,” said Klose. “Now I want to give everything I can to be a good player in this league.”

Exciting prospects at Carrow Road

Klose possesses the experience and defensive attributes which can help keep Norwich in this testing division, having been part of the Wolfsburg side that ended Manchester United’s Champions League hopes last year and also featured for his country in a Euro 2016 qualifier against England.

With such an esteemed background both at club and international level, Klose is expected to hit the ground running and instantly aid the Canaries in their attempts to stay put in the Premier League.

Soccer - UEFA Euro 2016 - Qualifying - Group E - England v Switzerland - Wembley Stadium

The Swiss defender is technically astute and isn’t all about his strong aerial abilities, as he also possesses a great deal of calmness and composure which sees him confidently carry the ball out from deep regularly, something that will only benefit Neil’s men.

“As a player, he’s got good technical ability and he’s solid in the air,” said the Canaries boss of new arrival Klose. “He can also play at either right centre-back or left centre-back. We’re delighted to have completed this deal and to have added Timm to our squad.”

With Euro 2016 around the corner, not only will Norwich benefit from Klose, but the national defender will see this switch as an opportunity to cement his place alongside Fabian Schar and prove he is more adept for the tournament than former Arsenal duo Philippe Senderos and Johan Djourou. What better platform to showcase himself on than the Premier League?

Neil putting stamp on Canaries set-up

Frankfurt-born Klose, who qualifies for the Swiss through his mother’s side, holds a true fighting spirit which will be crucial in Norwich’s run-in, but he’s not the only player to bolster the club.

Watford v Norwich City - Barclays Premier League - Vicarage Road

Klose is Neil’s fifth signing in this January transfer window, following Ivo Pinto, Steven Naismith and Ben Godfrey into Carrow Road, while Matt Jarvis also made his temporary deal a permanent one after impressing.

It’s clear from such quality arrivals that Neil is putting a stamp down on his set-up in the relegation dogfight, strengthening his rearguard with Klose and Pinto purchases, while Jarvis will continue in his earned wing spot and teenage prospect Godfrey looks promising after arriving from York City.

The next few months are vital for Norwich, while they could see Klose cement a starting spot within new surroundings and rediscover the form he showcased before injury setbacks, before heading to France with confidence after potentially helping keep his new side afloat.

Naismith’s Norwich switch an attacking assurance

Having added heavily to his squad earlier in the month, Neil wasn’t finished his encouraging dealings just yet, also recently confirming possibly the highest profile transfer at Carrow Road.

Everton and Scotland international forward Naismith had been tipped to join the Canaries for some time now, and his proposed £8m was finally completed, with Neil’s strikeforce now welcomingly bolstered as well as his backline.

Soccer - Barclays Premier League - Everton v Chelsea - Goodison Park

The Scot had already agreed to such a switch before the winter window opened but an ankle injury and Toffees boss Roberto Martinez’s new-found desire to retain him caused negotiations to stall, though proceedings ultimately went in Norwich’s favour.

It’s clear why Martinez had second thoughts about letting his reliant Toffees servant depart Goodison Park, with Naismith’s work ethic and quality going forward having helped him on Merseyside, but those traits will now be put to more regular use in Norwich’s ranks instead.

The 29-year-old, who arrived at Everton from Rangers during the Glasgow club’s well-documented troubles, will bring plenty of experience and guile to Neil’s set-up in their own battles, with a hat-trick against champions Chelsea earlier this season showcasing what fans can expect from their latest acquisition.

Norwich look to avoid past failures

It was during the 2013/14 campaign which Norwich suffered the daunting drop down divisions from the top-flight, finishing an agonising three points adrift of safety and falling alongside both Fulham and Cardiff City.

Although it shows the club’s resilience and drive to fight back to see where they are now, compared to the other two teams that faced the same hapless fate two years ago, and they will look to avoid previous failure from that term.

Soccer - Barclays Premier League - Norwich City v AFC Bournemouth - Carrow Road

In that ultimately faltering run-in that season, Norwich managed to win just three league games after Christmas, suffering a disastrous six defeats in their final eight matches to seal their relegation fate.

This season under Neil, with plenty more strength in depth following recent arrivals, joining key players like Russell Martin, midfield revelation Alexander Tettey, Wes Hoolahan and Cameron Jerome, the Canaries look to be a more solid outfit which can withstand the pressure and avoid emulating those 2014 failures.

It’s evident that Neil has captured players and built a squad that is not only capable of remaining in the Premier League ahead of rivals Villa (1/20 relegated), Sunderland (1/4) and Swansea (7/4), but one that can now help the club remain there for what he hopes will be many more years under his reign.


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Lee Gormley

Lee joined the Coral team in 2014 after studying at Leeds Trinity University, having moved across the water from Ireland, and has plenty of industry experience from his time with various news outlets in both England and Northern Ireland. After graduating with a BA Honours degree in Sports Journalism, he has since become an important member of the talented sports desk, passionately covering boxing, football and snooker, among many other sports. Lee is also a massive Manchester United and Republic of Ireland fan, but curbs any bias during his work, and outside of his job can be found regularly taking part in sport himself, such as boxing, GAA and football.