Keeping the madness to a minimum at Norwich City
EDP pics © 2006
There is a madness about goalkeepers, apparently, and this week’s signing of Lee Camp is a reminder that they too can cause madness among managers.
Camp was part of the madness of the 2006-07 season when, having been signed by Nigel Worthington, he soon found a new man in charge in the shape of Peter Grant.
From that moment on, life was never quite the same. For anyone.
Worthington, who departed on October 2, 2006, after a run of results which is horribly reminiscent of City’s current run of form, had Paul Gallacher as his number one – with just Joe Lewis and Steven Arnold as back-up.
Lewis was the man for the bench, and, ultimately, never played a single senior first team game for the club that reared him from a pup. That, in itself, is one of the great mysteries of football – all those years spent nurturing your own talent only to cash in and never see him mixing it where it really matters: in your first team.
Grant clearly didn’t fancy such inexperience on his bench, and quickly set about chopping and changing the number one jersey. Gallacher was bought by someone else – those sort of players are often under most threat when a new man comes in. Grant wasn’t slow off the mark: just 18 days after Worthington departed, in came new goalkeeper number one, Jamie Ashdown.
Ashdown’s star didn’t shine for too long – he replaced Gallacher for the 1-0 win over Cardiff, but was then sent off as City crashed 5-0 at Stoke. I was there – but I wasn’t quite as unkind as a colleague who, I believe, gave him three out of 10.
Time for another keeper – and, in January, City signed David Marshall on loan from Celtic. Marshall was good, but unlucky – in his fifth game, an FA Cup tie at Chelsea, he injured his ankle and missed the rest of the season, although, true to Grant tradition, he returned in the summer as a permanent signing. Curiously, after that, Chelsea’s then manager, Jose Mourinho, perhaps in sympathy or just for a giggle, offered Grant a loan of his own keeper, Hilario. Grant, amazingly turned it down.
Gallacher stepped in, but only while Grant went in search of another keeper: Tony Warner became the fourth keeper to sign for City that season, remaining between the posts until the final game. Gallacher was never seen in action again, shipped off to Dunfermline on loan the following season, and sold to them in January, 2008, by which time Grant had already gone – having added Matty Gilks to his squad during the summer. Just for a change.
His successor, Glenn Roeder, kept faith with Marshall, but allowed Lewis to leave for Peterborough United – a decision which divided opinion among fans.
But Roeder’s faith in Marshall was one of the rare consistencies of that season: Marshall played 46 games in 2007-08 and 46 the following season, surviving longer than Roeder and seeing out the relegation to League One under Bryan Gunn, before swiftly departing for Cardiff City in embarrassingly quick fashion.
Marshall’s appearance week after week brought a little sanity to our lives during a period when there was very little at Carrow Road.
The goalkeeping merry-go-round (no pun, it really was one) did no one any favours. It was almost as confusing as week one in League One: 7-1 home defeat, long haul to Yeovil for a 4-0 Carling Cup win; Gunn sacked; long haul to Exeter for a dire 1-1 draw. But I digress.
There is just something about goalkeepers.
Chris Hughton has a big issue with keepers at the moment: John Ruddy is injured and Mark Bunn’s cover is Declan Rudd and Jed Steer. Rudd and Steer are promising, but inexperienced, and while there are some who see a similar situation to Joe Lewis’ – losing a home-grown keeper without really seeing the best of him – the fact is that risks cannot be taken in the top flight.
If Bunn is injured or suspended, Rudd and Steer cannot be the first two choices, in whichever order you fancy, which is why Lee Camp, veteran of that extraordinary 2006-07 season, is a welcome signing.
As long as it doesn’t lead to more goalkeeping madness...