Huckerby - It could get worse

PUBLISHED: 14:30 07 May 2009 | UPDATED: 16:16 10 September 2010

Darren Huckerby pulls no punches in his assessment of the Canaries.

Darren Huckerby pulls no punches in his assessment of the Canaries.

Matthew Chambers

Darren Huckerby today issued a stark warning to Norwich City fans - it's going to get worse before it gets better. Huckerby, who admitted to having sleepless nights leading up to Sunday's relegation decider at The Valley, believes that despite City already suffering the despair of dropping into the third tier of English football for the first time in 49 years, the nightmare is far from over.

Darren Huckerby today issued a stark warning to Norwich City fans - it's going to get worse before it gets better.

Huckerby, who admitted to having sleepless nights leading up to Sunday's relegation decider at The Valley, believes that despite City already suffering the despair of dropping into the third tier of English football for the first time in 49 years, the nightmare is far from over.

The City Hall of Fame member feels that without an imminent injection of cash into the Carrow Road coffers, nothing is going to improve any time soon.

“It's been awful, an horrendous time for the club and the fans. I listened to the match at The Valley over the internet and I just feel for the fans - of which I'm one,” said Huckerby, who has missed the last three matches for San Jose Earthquakes in the MLS because of a thigh injury. “After the Reading game I couldn't sleep properly for a week thinking about it all. It's dreadful to think about what has happened to such a great club. It's just not been good enough.

“The club are going to have to find some investment from somewhere. It's financially where the club really need to make strides. Whoever the new manager is they will need funds to compete. But who is going to invest in the club? It's not like it's a London club, it's going to take someone who has an interest in Norwich City.”

The City board held crunch talks yesterday in a bid to come up with a strategy that will see them bounce back into the Championship - a task that Huckerby admits is “scary”.

There have been calls for wholesale changes, starting at board level, but Huckerby is not advocating such dramatic measures. Instead he believes someone with a footballing background has to be among the movers and shakers.

“Total change at the top isn't the answer. For starters, the club cannot afford to do it. They tried that on the playing side of things and look how that backfired. But they have definitely got to have someone on the board who knows about football and has a background in football,” said the 33-year-old.

“There are no easy, straightforward answers - that's the scary thing. But it's important that the club learns from its mistakes to be able to move forward. It's no good calling for Michael and Delia to just step aside - the club could go under.”

Among the crucial decisions that still need to be made is who will be manager. Bryan Gunn remains the front-runner to land the job full-time, despite failing to save City from relegation after taking over from Glenn Roeder in January with the club already in a perilous league position.

Whoever is in charge of team affairs, though, has to have a squad he can call his own. The fact that Norwich fielded so many loan players was the root cause of City's downfall, according to Huckerby.

He said: “City have got to have their own players. The nucleus of the team has to be owned by Norwich City. It was a ludicrous situation that six or seven of the players out on the field were not going to be at the club next season. Loan players can play a role but they should only be there to supplement a team, like when myself and Peter Crouch joined. Loan players need to be added just to complete the puzzle.

“There needs to be a change in the playing staff - no doubt about it. But I can't see many of the players that have contracts leaving the club. Who would want them? They have just been relegated. The likes of Croft, Clingan and Doherty have played OK but that's about it.

“The players let themselves down, they let the fans down - and it's hard for me to say that as lot of them are mates. It's been pathetic, basically. But that's been true of the last two or three seasons, to be honest, and I was a part of that too.

“Norwich need players with experience who are going to be able to deal with a very physical league full of rough and tumble.”

He added: “Teams will be looking forward to coming to Carrow Road and will treat it as their Cup final. It's going to be tough playing against teams that have that kind of mentality every other week. It's going to be a long, hard season.

“If they don't get a decent run going early on then they are going to find it harder and harder. I can't see them bouncing back straightaway and winning automatic promotion. I think that it's going to get a lot worse before it gets better.”

Much has been made of Huckerby making a playing return for Norwich but the winger is adamant that he will see out the MLS season, which ends in November, with the Quakes and then make a decision.

“By the time that I could play for Norwich I'd be nearly 34 and with a slightly dodgy hip,” he explained. “I've got certain standards that I set myself and I would want to be able to meet them while playing for Norwich. I will do whatever is best for Norwich City at the end of the day. Money wouldn't be the issue. If I can't go out there and inspire the fans then there's no point being on the pitch.

“The MLS season finishes in November and we'll see where it goes from there. I've not thought about what may happen much past November really but I have three options. I either stay in the MLS, play for Norwich or retire. They are the three options right now but we'll have to see.

“I would like to see my association with Norwich last for the next 15 to 20 years and I'd like to be involved in the youth set-up, helping bring players through into the first team. The youth set-up will be key for Norwich's future and it's important that they get it right.”

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