Norwich City debuts to forget. Warning: contains a couple of heavy defeats

PUBLISHED: 09:02 21 April 2020 | UPDATED: 09:02 21 April 2020

Norwich 'keeper Michael Theoklitos misses the ball for the first Colchester goal back on opening day, 2009 Picture: Archant

Norwich 'keeper Michael Theoklitos misses the ball for the first Colchester goal back on opening day, 2009 Picture: Archant

Archant

Sometimes debuts are utterly forgettable – Chris Lakey looks at some which didn’t quite go to plan for some well-known Norwich City names

Michael Theoklitos

August 8 2009

Norwich City 1 Colchester 7

Only one place to start: Michael Theo, as he is now known, was brought in by Bryan Gunn, but his debut was calamitous. His defence didn’t do him any favours, to be fair, but he was all over the place as goal after goal went past him. It was hard for him to recover and it was no surprise when Paul Lambert let him go - a no show for a game at Gillingham hardly helping his cause. That horrific season opener proved to be his only City appearance.

Steve Bruce - on target for Liverpool on his Norwich debut Picture:. ArchantSteve Bruce - on target for Liverpool on his Norwich debut Picture:. Archant

“I believe that Micky Theoklitos has got character and that’s the reason that I brought him to the club,” said Gunn. “I have never seen him let seven goals in before, I don’t know if he has, but we need to see what his character is like now and I’m sure that he will be just as disappointed as the rest of the players in the dressing room and probably take it more personally as well as a goalkeeper because it’s seven goals.”

Steve Bruce

August 25, 1985

Lee Crofts during his first game for Norwich, at Leeds Picture: Paul Thomas/Sportsbeat ImagesLee Crofts during his first game for Norwich, at Leeds Picture: Paul Thomas/Sportsbeat Images

Norwich City 3 Liverpool 3

Bruce scored an own goal, and it was a bit of a peach, as he dived to head past his own keeper from 10 yards. Not longer after, he scored another, although he was simply helping Kenny Dalglish’s effort into the net. “Dalglish cut inside Dave Watson - if you remember Dalglish’s trick, his favourite one, he cut inside and bent it in the far corner with his left foot. I was on the line and I tried to get my head on that. I think they were calling for my head that day as well - ‘Who’s this clown we have bought here from Gillingham? Get him back to Gillingham’.”

All’s well that ends well: Bruce went on to have a superb career with Norwich – lifting the Milk Cup at Wembley at the end of that season, although City were relegated – and then Manchester United.

John O'NeillJohn O'Neill

John O’Neill

December 18, 1987

Wimbledon 1 Norwich City 0

The Northern Ireland international played just 34 minutes for Norwich City, his career ended on his debut against Wimbledon after a collision with John Fashanu which ruptured his knee ligaments. “Almost at the split second I played the ball, I felt a severe blow to my knee and heard a loud crack. I thought first of all I had broken my leg,” said O’Neill. It ended his professional career. O’Neill took legal proceedings against Fashanu, settling out of court for £70,000. O’Neill was left with a £150,000 legal bill. “Norwich gave me a testimonial. Gary Lineker came over from Barcelona and scored a hat-trick including one from 35 yards! Trevor Brooking and Steve Bruce also played,” said O’Neill.

Chris Hughton trying to coax something out of his team at Fulham Picture: Andrew Tobin/Focus Images LtdChris Hughton trying to coax something out of his team at Fulham Picture: Andrew Tobin/Focus Images Ltd

Definitely one of the worst debuts – for all the wrong reasons.

Lee Croft

August 5 2006

Leeds 1 Norwich City 0

Nigel Worthington had been on the look-out for a big striker all summer, but a wide man from Manchester City ended up being his only signing. Croft’s first appearance was at Elland Road and all was going well enough until a few minutes before half-time. Croft made an inadvisable attempt to clear the ball and instead somehow managed to wipe out two Leeds players – Steve Stone and Eirik Bakke – in one impressive lunge. David Healy stepped up to score the resulting penalty and that was it. Robert Earnshaw missed a hatful of chances, but had some sympathy for his new team-mate. “It was a harsh penalty – but I think it probably was – but at the end of the day we played well enough to think we did well. We worked hard enough and passed the ball well. There is nothing else you can do about it.”

Chris Hughton

August 18, 2012

Fulham 5 Norwich City 0

It’s hard not to leave a space for one manager, whose debut in the dug-out went horribly wrong. Chris Hughton had arrived in a bells and whistles welcome – a playing CV with Spurs and West Ham as well as managerial spells at Newcastle and Birmingham. But he watched helplessly as Fulham ripped his Premier League newcomers to pieces. City weren’t at the races, cur to shreds by their hosts. Hughton described it as “awful” and “tough watching”.

“This won’t be the only defeat we have,” he said. “Or the only defeat we have by a few goals. It is normal for any team in our position in this division.”

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