clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Town End 2022/23 Preview: Burnley, Watford, Norwich City

All this week, we’ll be previewing the upcoming 2022/23 Championship season with the help of writers from around the division. First up, we’re looking at the three sides joining us from the Premier League...

Watford v Norwich City - Premier League Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images

No Nay Never podcast can be found on Twitter here and their website is right here.

How would you sum up last season?

Last season was a difficult one to watch, with highlights being few and far between. We kept thinking we’d reached a turning point and things would improve but they didn’t and we just couldn’t drag ourselves out of the relegation battle, even on the last day when it was in our hands. If you don’t score goals, win matches and beat the teams around you then you can’t be surprised when you go down.

The sacking of Sean Dyche was almost the change we needed to reignite our fight for survival, but it just didn’t last long enough and in some ways the club needed a big reset, so going down has made that happen even more than if we’d stayed up and been facing another relegation battle next season.

What are your general expectations for this season?

It’s an exciting time to be a Burnley fan. We haven’t seen this many new, young signings in a very long time. Many are reserving judgement until we see them in action and until we start winning matches, but there is certainly an air of positivity and a refreshing newness about a lot of what the club are doing both on and off the field. We have lost some key personnel and there are still some slots to be filled before the window shuts, but we go into this season full of belief and hope.

What has the reaction been like to the appointment of Vincent Kompany?

Overall very positive. Again, many will be holding back until he proves he can get this new group of players to perform together and win matches, but I think it was the right kind of appointment to make and he is attracting players to come and play for him which is another refreshing change, particularly with loan signings which were an area that we struggled to take advantage of under Dyche.

The impact of relegation has been clear on the pitch with several players leaving. But how well prepared are the club off the pitch for life back in the Championship after six years?

There is a lot of worry around how much of the debt the new owners took on to buy the club is due to be repaid this year and we knew that there would be a bit of a fire sale of players who were still under contract to try and fund that as well as to try and sign some replacements.

With so many leaving due to contracts expiring, there are only a few players that we could raise money via. Pope and Collins are the first two out of the door and opinion is divided on whether we have got a fair deal for either of them, however the recruitment seems to have been shrewd with new faces brought in for £2m here and £4m there on players that should develop and have a much greater resale value in the future, as well as the loans which could prove to be instrumental in Kompany’s new-look Burnley.

Who’s your player to look out for?

Scott Twine was the first and most exciting signing of the season. He tore up League One for MK Dons last season with 20 goals in 45 games and was crowned League One player of the season. Burnley fans are hoping he’ll bring some much-needed spark and excitement to our attack which has looked rather flat in large periods of recent years.

A younger name that could break through?

Another League One recruit from Oxford United is centre back Luke McNally who has the potential to step into some big shoes vacated by James Tarkowski. His calmness on the ball and ability to drive forward with it, combined with some tough tackling will delight the Burnley faithful who have grown used to seeing this.

Where will you finish?

Anything outside the top six would be viewed as a disappointment. However, with the high turnover of players and coaches this summer, it may take time for it all to gel and work and as long as progress is being made and everything is moving forward, then many Clarets will forgive the side if they don’t achieve an instant return to the Premier League. Financially, I’m sure we could really do with being promoted next May. Only time will tell.

You can find The Voices Of The Vic on Twitter here.

What do you make of new boss Rob Edwards?

Rob’s been a real breath of fresh air for us supporters. When you consider the two head coaches before him have been the oldest managers about in football, it’s just nice to have some fresh eyes and positivity breathed into the club.

He did superbly last season at Forest Green Rovers winning the League Two title, and while yes it’s a massive step up for him and his assistant, he’s got a better group of players this time round and we’re finally starting to see what he’s trying to do here at the club. After lacklustre performances last season, the fans are really excited to see a much more passionate and dedicated team this time round.

Are Watford in as strong a position to go straight back up as in 2020/21?

I wouldn’t say so no. As I mentioned above, Rob’s coming into this from L2 football. It’s a big step up and whilst yes, there’s positive signs so far, it is still a big leap to make for any manager. We’re also going through a bit of a rebuild so we’re seeing a lot of outgoings and incomings.

It also looks as if we’ll be seeing a bit more of the youngsters integrated into the Watford side too which will be good but also challenging at times too. Personally I think this season’s Championship is the toughest it’s been in years so it’s going to be interesting to see who’s in the mix for promotion come the end of the season.

How would you sum up last season?

Absolute shambles, the worst I’ve ever witnessed from a Watford side and I’ve been attending since 2000. There was no fight, no passion, no determination. We were sold a dream after beating Villa on the opening day but my word that wasn’t to follow because we were awful.

Xisco was always going to be out of his depth in the Premier League so deep down I think we all knew as supporters that he wasn’t going to last, but the appointment(s) of Ranieri and Hodgson did the complete opposite of what we wanted them to do. This time round, we just want to see a Watford side that want to play for the badge and that want to win football games.

What are your general expectations for this season?

It’s been real topsy-turvy for me, all things considered (young manager from L2 and a bit of a rebuild) I would’ve said anywhere from 8th-12th. However, we are seeing what Rob is trying to do in terms of the style of football and the attitude he’s trying to install into these players.

If we can get a RWB and a number nine then I think we can get play-offs as bare minimum. There’s always obviously an expectation on relegated sides to bounce straight back up. I don’t need to tell you guys, that doesn’t always work out that way…(sorry!)

Who’s your player to look out for?

Joao Pedro and Yaser Asprilla without a shadow of a doubt. Both young, hungry South American lads. Pedro is a name that people will recognise more as he got nine goals the season we went up in 2020/21 and he adapted to the English game by bulking up etc. This time round he’ll want to fire us straight back up and will be eager to get double figures too.

Yaser Asprilla is a Colombian, 18-year-old attacking midfielder who we signed from Envigado. He’s in the same sort of mould as Pedro. Same promise and expectation as him and from what we’ve seen so far, he’s going to be exciting although I wouldn’t bank on him starting many games, if any at all, I’d imagine he’ll be the lad to come off the bench to unlock defences late on. We cannot rush his development at all.

A younger name that could break through?

Yaser Asprilla.

Where will you finish?


Connor Southwell (@cjsouthwell1902) is Chief Norwich City Reporter for The Pink Un.

What do you make of the job Dean Smith’s done so far?

Interesting question. He was brought in to keep Norwich City in the Premier League, so if that is the measure, then he failed on his primary objective last season. That said, even Harry Houdini wouldn’t have been able to conjure up an escape act from the position he inherited.

The recruitment was the major issue, so there is a degree of giving him the benefit of the doubt over last season, but he did manage over half the season, meaning absolving him entirely of any blame would be wrong.

So, I think all of that points to a need for a quick start and some green shoots. Pre-season hasn’t left many supporters feeling particularly optimistic. The major criticisms surround a lack of playing identity and a creative void.

Smith has made Norwich press with more intelligence and they now possess a defensive structure.

Overall, I would say he has done a mixed job. But there is a need for improvement, and quickly.

Norwich are the classic yo-yo team at the moment - is this season just as much about preparing a side capable of staying in the Premier League?

Possibly. But that would imply that promotion is absolutely a certainty, and at this stage, I don’t think many of a yellow and green persuasion have reached that conclusion.

Norwich’s squad was assembled to survive in the Premier League. £60m later and they are no closer than they were 12 months ago. Many feel this is a weaker squad than was the case two years ago. Add in the lack of a serial winner at this level in Daniel Farke and that creates a degree of uncertainty.

But that will be the aim internally. Smith has spoken about adding more athleticism to his squad and it does feel that his style is probably better suited to the top flight than the Championship.

The players still have plenty to prove, some at this level, others in general. It would be naïve to assume, especially after the nature of last season, that this team can just bounce off the canvas and build for the Premier League again.

As soon as you stop focusing on the Championship, it has a knack of catching you with a blow on the chin. Norwich need to implement a clear style and execute that well before worrying about the Premier League again.

How would you sum up last season?

In a word? Painful.

It was the year that was supposed to be different. They spent money. They assembled a squad. They had mistakes from the previous occasion to reference and avoid. They knew the profile of player they needed to attract. Everything was set up for them.

From the beginning, it was an unmitigated disaster. You only need to look at their points tally to reach that conclusion.

A disconnect developed between the supporters and the football club, and it became death by a thousand cuts towards the end of the season. In the early stages of the campaign, a certain sports radio station was peddling false narratives and spouting nonsense. That should have spurred Norwich on. Instead, some of the statements were proven correct.

It was always about a lack of quality rather than effort, but everyone was willing for it to end by the time we reached late March.

A tough watch and tough for everybody to be involved in.

What are your general expectations for this season?

That’s a really good question. The only thing that feels certain is that Norwich City will stay up.

Nobody knows how deep the scars from last season are or how the squad will react to the rigours of the Championship season. Norwich have signed two players, both are injured for the start of the campaign, and will look to add another before the window closes.

But they tend to be really good at this bit. Almost annoyingly so from the perspective of other clubs at this level.

It does feel like there is more uncertainty this time around. Nobody knows how the squad will stand up to the robust nature of the league or whether Dean Smith will be able to get his principles of play across.

Expectations will be another promotion. Anything other than that will feel like another failure.

Who’s your player to look out for?

The obvious answer is Teemu Pukki. If he scores 22 goals, he will have hit a tonne for Norwich City, becoming only the fourth player to reach that feat.

I’m going to go for Andrew Omobamidele though. The Irish centre back is referred to as a Rolls Royce in the inner sanctum of City’s training base. Despite being just 20, he has composure on the ball, an ability to intelligently read the game and is physically very mature. He could be the next player that goes onto bigger things, earning the club millions in the process.

Providing he can stay fit, I would expect him to form a major part of City’s plan in the upcoming campaign.

A younger name that could break through?

Liam Gibbs.

A central midfielder who signed from *ahem* Ipswich last summer. He is a technically proficient operator capable of setting the tempo and with a willingness to move the ball quickly through the lines.

His pre-season performances have been impressive and Dean Smith believes he has a real chance of making an impact in the Championship.

Where will you finish?

It could be anywhere between top and eighth. I really don’t know.

I think Norwich will be in and around the hunt for promotion, history proves that to be the case. They have a deep squad and some players who will likely excel in the Championship.

Go big or go home. Another title to add to their collection.