Norwich City: Best- and Worst-Case Scenarios for 2013
2013 hasn't exactly started in the best fashion for Norwich City, with the club having only managed to pick up one point from a possible nine so far in the calender year.
However, despite a poor run of form, the Canaries still have their destiny in their own hands thanks to a much-needed seven-point cushion above the Premier League relegation zone as they look to clinch safety once more.
2012 was another generally successful year for City as they comfortably managed to secure Premier League football for another campaign, although the departure of Paul Lambert to Aston Villa meant that it wasn't all plain sailing.
You would expect that this year will contain similar highs and lows, so here are the best- and worst-case scenarios that Norwich City can expect in 2013...
Best-Case: Achieve a Comfortable Mid-Table Finish
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Finishing in mid-table would rank as another fantastic season for Norwich City and would continue their progression towards the ultimate goal of becoming an established Premier League side.
Matching last year's 12th-placed finish may be a tough ask, but with the club sitting in 13th spot at the time of writing it is certainly not outside the realm of possibility.
Securing some new faces in January could be the difference between safety in the middle of the pack or fighting for their lives at the bottom, and the Canaries will be hoping that they can achieve the former.
With 26 precious points already in the bag, Chris Hughton's men will firstly be targeting the magic 40-point mark as soon as possible to ensure that they will be hosting top-flight football again next season at Carrow Road, before daring to dream about how high up the league they can realistically finish.
Best-Case: Get to the Latter Stages of the FA Cup
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Norwich City don't tend to do well in the FA Cup if their recent history is anything to go by, but this year could be different.
It won't be easy against the Hatters, who did fantastically to knock out Wolverhampton Wanderers in the last round, but City will fancy their chances of progressing in front of their own fans.
Once you reach Round Five, anything is possible. And Norwich would only be two games away from a first appearance at the new Wembley Stadium with the semifinals now hosted at the home of English football.
The fifth round was as good as it got for Norwich last season after they were disappointingly dumped out by Leicester City, but with a bit of luck in the draw this could be the year for the Norfolk outfit to stamp their authority on the competition.
Best-Case: Smash the Club's Transfer Record
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With the huge finances that are commonplace in the modern game, it's hard to believe that Norwich City's transfer record still stands at the £3.5 million paid to West Bromwich Albion for Robert Earnshaw way back in 2006, but that is the reality, and Norwich will be hoping that this is the year for that to change.
The club have made it obvious that they would be willing to break their record in the current transfer window after launching a £5 million bid for Danny Graham according to Sky Sports in addition to already having two bids turned down by Celtic for Gary Hooper as confirmed by Hoops boss Neil Lennon.
If the Canaries are to land Hooper, it has been suggested that they will have to raise their offer considerably, with a figure of £8 million more likely to tempt Celtic into letting him go; the reality is that City will need to pay these sort of fees one day to remain competitive in the top flight.
Paying more money for players year on year is part of the progression of any ambitious club in the Premier League, and Norwich must ensure that they are not left behind as other teams continue to strengthen.
Worst-Case: Losing Some of the Club's Best Players
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On the flip side, as much as Norwich want to strengthen their squad with new additions, there is always the risk that other club's may come sniffing for some of the current players as well, and City will be hoping that such a scenario doesn't materialise.
The likes of John Ruddy before his injury, Robert Snodgrass and Anthony Pilkington have all been hugely impressive in the Premier League this season and you wouldn't be surprised if they were firmly on the radars of other so-called "bigger" clubs.
It would be a huge blow to the development of the Canaries if they were to lose any of their prized assets, with Stoke City in particular showing how keeping your best players can lead to Premier League stability.
Norwich have done well to stave off interest in their players from other clubs so far during their time in the top flight, and they will have to continue to do so if they are serious about establishing themselves.
Worst-Case: Not Find a Replacement for Grant Holt
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Grant Holt has been a wonderful servant for Norwich City over the past few seasons, as reflected by his achievement of winning three Player of the Season awards on the bounce.
However, the club cannot continue to rely on him to keep scoring the goals to keep them afloat, and at the age of 31 you would suspect that he doesn't have many years left in him.
The Canaries need to find a long-term heir to Holt's throne, because he simply can't go on forever in such an unforgiving league.
It's obvious that Chris Hughton needs someone to take the weight off his captain's shoulders, and his willingness to try and sign at least one striker in the January transfer window shows that he is serious about doing so.
Worst-Case: Relegation from the Premier League
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There's little doubt that relegation would be nothing short of a disaster for Norwich City.
With the club having been on an upward spiral for at least three years ever since gaining promotion from League One in 2010, it would be terrible for the Canaries to drop out of the Premier League now having worked so hard to get there.
Their recent form is a genuine cause for concern, and Chris Hughton will have to get his side picking up points again sooner rather than later if they are to avoid an untimely relegation battle.
It is imperative that the club stays in the top flight this time out, especially with the introduction of the new £3 billion TV deal coming into play next season meaning that the prize for Premier League spots is greater than ever before.
If Norwich were to be relegated, it may be years before they make it back to the promised land again when you consider both the huge loss of revenue and ferociously competitive nature of the Championship.
Chris Hughton and his men will be doing all they can to ensure that the Canaries' Premier League journey doesn't end just yet.
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