The Mail on Sunday
WE’RE UP AGAIN!
Ultimate yo-yo club return to Premier League before they even play
IN THE end it was results elsewhere that confirmed the inevitable and got the Norwich promotion party started before they had even set foot on the pitch to face Bournemouth.
Norwich’s immediate return to the Premier League was rubberstamped thanks to the failings of their nearest challengers.
But few would begrudge Daniel Farke’s players being able to sit back, relax and watch things fall into place at the crucial moment.
After training in the morning and having lunch at the training ground they were together in the team hotel watching their nearest rivals falter and the results that sealed their promotion come in.
Farke and his players had already done the hard yards this season to overcome the desperate disappointment of last season’s relegation and streak clear of the rest in the Championship.
Exactly how they clinched it did not really matter — even if captain Grant Hanley insisted the preference would have been to get the job done themselves.
The rearrangement of yesterday’s fixtures meant Bournemouth’s evening visit to Carrow Road was the safety net for Farke’s side.
They didn’t need it. Back to the Premier League they bounced after Swansea were held by Wycombe and Brentford by Millwall. That ticked the automatic promotion box for Norwich.
Watford’s defeat at Luton meant Norwich kicked off against Bournemouth last night needing only two more wins to guarantee the title.
Manager Farke said: ‘In the last moments of the earlier games you could feel something of a little surprise and pretty spontaneously the lads came together and, of course, they were buzzing and you don’t want to stop them. Once you are not allowed to celebrate what you have done then one day you lose your motivation. It is also important to celebrate this a little bit.
‘ Then there was a quite quick turnaround and the l ads were focused on our game because they want to finish in style. It’s a bit surreal when you are promoted just a few hours before kick-off because you want to focus on the game.
‘But it’s a great feeling, also a proud moment for the club and for us as a group. The lads have done a fantastic job.’
Hanley said: ‘You never expect to be in that positon where you’re promoted without playing. It’s been a long season, a tough season and nice to get the job done.’
If there was one shame, it was that Norwich’s supporters weren’t able to attend the party. Most resisted the temptation to descend on Carrow Road with only a handful gathered outside the ground.
The atmosphere will be completely different when top-flight football returns.
It was simply a matter of time before the club could celebrate ‘mission accomplished’ on social media yesterday and let their supporters know the new range of Premier League merchandise was already available to buy. After readjusting to life in the Championship and the loss of Ben Godfrey and Jamal Lewis from last season’s squad Norwich have often looked a level above the rest of the teams in the division. They went top in November and have remained there ever since, winning 20 of the next 29 games. Their last defeat came at the start of February and they welcomed Bournemouth on the back of a 13-game unbeaten run. Their stunning early goal rounded off by Emi Buendia after Teemu Pukki’s clever flick was certainly Premier League class. But Dimitri Giannoulis’ red card for a late lunge on Ben Pearson after only 17 minutes allowed Bournemouth back into the game. The goal their response warranted was tapped in five minutes after his introduction by half- time sub Sam Surridge, eventually awarded by referee Graham Scott after his assistant had initially flagged for offside. The turnaround was completed soon after when Arnaut Danjuma drove in from the left, beat two Norwich men and fired into Tim Krul’s top corner. Lloyd Kelly fired in a third with 14 minutes left but the outcome ultimately did not matter for Norwich because of what had unfolded earlier in the day.