Norwich City has been relegated from the Premier League for the second time in a row after losing at Villa Park against Aston Villa.
With four games remaining, the Canaries are bottom of the standings, 13 points from safety, after to the tame loss and Burnley’s remarkable comeback win at Watford.
Their supporters continued to show their support as a relegation that had been expected for some time was confirmed.
In the first half, Villa took the lead when Ollie Watkins took advantage of an error by Brandon Williams and scored high into the net.
Norwich’s season was summed up by Williams’ blunder, as was their lack of goal-scoring ability. They only made a few openings, while Villa smashed the woodwork in both halves.
Norwich’s sorrow was compounded by Danny Ings’ late goal in stoppage time.
Dean Smith, the club’s manager, stated that “plans are already in place” for their return to the Premier League.
“I think there’s been an inevitability about it for the past four to five weeks,” he added.
“I’m disappointed that we were relegated tonight since I believed our performance was good, but regrettably, our performances have not been good enough throughout the season, and we lack the quality required at this level.
“[The guys] feel depressed and downcast.”
Villa’s low-key triumph snapped a five-match losing streak, moving them up to 13th in the table and above the 40-point line.
Norwich City returns to the Championship for the second season in a row
This is the third time in a row that Norwich City has been relegated after being promoted to the Premier League.
Given Smith’s departure from Villa earlier this season, the afternoon was particularly sad for him.
In truth, Norwich’s relegation to the Championship has appeared imminent throughout a season in which they have struggled to meet the standards expected of a top-flight squad.
They were spirited and had decent spells in possession, but their lack of threat in front of goal was once again exposed, with Emiliano Martinez’s only major save being a diving save to deny Milot Rashica from distance.
This season, Norwich had the fewest shots (336), shots on target (100), and shot conversion rate (7%) of any Premier League team.
Even before Williams’ fall, there were problems at the back, with Villa’s opener coming from a long, optimistic pass that was not cleared. Watkins outmuscled the fullback, whose finish was helped by a tiny deflection.
Norwich fans hailed their team’s effort at full-time, but there was no outpouring of passion.
Delia Smith, the club’s joint majority stakeholder, was in the stands, and some may question the hierarchy’s aversion to investing large after promotion.
Norwich should be able to come back thanks to their caution and manager Smith’s previous promotion with Villa.
“We’ll do everything we can to get back up,” the former Villa manager added. “It is really difficult to stay in this league. I spent £125 million to keep Villa in the Premier League [following their promotion in 2019].
“I can’t comment on the players’ attitudes.”
This was a much-needed boost for Villa. It effectively puts a stop to any fears of relegation, as their winless run saw them slump from ninth to fifteenth place.
Tim Iroegbunam, an 18-year-old England Under-19 midfielder who was solid in a holding role, was given a full debut by manager Steven Gerrard.