Bouncebackability is a valuable commodity in modern football, which itself is a game governed largely by the excitement of promotion and the threat of relegation. Several clubs have made a habit of bouncing back and keeping fans on the edge of their seats.
And few have done this as successfully since the turn of the century as Norwich City, who have experienced promotion to the Premier League three times since 2004, alongside four relegations back down.
The club has also suffered demotion to the third tier during this period, but succeeded in turning their fortunes around quickly and returning to their familiar position – either in the upper reaches of the Championship of the lower reaches of the Premier League.
Norwich’s first promotion to the Premier League of the 21st century came in 2004, when they swept all before them in Division One to be crowned champions, eight points clear of second-placed West Brom. An incredible end-of-season run saw the Canaries take 24 points from their last ten matches, easing them over the finish line with games to spare.
However, relegation would follow the next season, with Nigel Worthington’s side unable to find the consistency or form required to secure their safety. Despite four wins from their last eight matches, a humiliating 6-0 reverse on the final day saw their fate sealed.
This year’s Premier League betting odds rank two of last year’s promoted teams, West Brom and Fulham, among the favourites for relegation at 2/5 and 3/1 respectively – it’s a tag that the Canaries would have to get used to for years to come.
The long road back
On this occasion, there would be no immediate return and City would instead struggle to build on a 9th-place finish recorded in their return season in the Championship. A disastrous campaign in 2008/09 saw the Canaries finish 22nd and suffer relegation to League 1.
But the comeback was swift and emphatic, with back-to-back promotions securing Norwich’s return to the Premier League just two years later. A dominant campaign in League 1 – albeit one that started with a bizarre 7-1 home reverse against Colchester – saw the team finish ten points clear in the promotion places.
They took that momentum with them into the following season, winning 23 of their 46 regular season matches to secure the second automatic promotion spot behind QPR. And, this time, the team had enough in the tank to compete at Premier League level.
A 12th-place finish in 2011/12 was followed by 11th spot a season later, but the Norfolk outfit would come unstuck in their third campaign, enduring a dismal end-of-season run that saw them take just seven points from the last ten matches.
On the 8 August 2009, Norwich City lose at home, in their first league game of the season, to traditionally ‘junior’ rivals, Colchester, 1-7.
Bryan Gunn lost his job within a week and was replaced by Colchester manager Paul Lambert.
Norwich would go on to win the 2009/10 title. pic.twitter.com/axv18dUedy
— Tifo Football (@TifoFootball_) August 8, 2018
Bouncing back all over again
The Canaries bounced back to the Premier League at the first attempt with victory over Middlesbrough in the play-off final, after missing out on automatic promotion by three points. The win once again raised hopes that Norwich could establish themselves in the Premier League.
But a dismal run of form during the second half of the 2015/16 season saw Norwich end the campaign in 19th place and suffer relegation back to the Championship, and this time it would take three attempts to bounce back.
That latest triumph came in 2018/19, when Finnish striker Teemu Pukki fired the Canaries to the Championship title and promotion to the Premier League. Pukki was again a threat for Norwich in their most recent top-level campaign, but his 11 goals weren’t enough to prevent his side being relegated again.
Norwich only need a point to guarantee promotion to the Premier League, and they’ve just taken a 1-0 lead against Blackburn.
— BBC Sport (@BBCSport) April 27, 2019
That takes us right through to the present day, where we find Norwich battling for promotion from the Championship once more. And given their exploits over the last 16 years, it’d be unwise to bet against them making yet another Premier League return.