Huckerby confident 2004 title winners could beat 'absolutely brilliant' current Canaries
Legendary winger Darren Huckerby has hailed the quality of Norwich City's football under Daniel Farke this season - but still thinks the promotion winners of 2004 would have fancied their chances against the current Canaries.
While we’ll never truly know the answer to that proverbial battle of great City teams – and Farke’s side still have plenty of work to become a promotion-winning side – the title winning exploits of the likes of Huckerby, Adam Drury and Iwan Roberts are still remembered as a fantastic time in the club’s history.
The 2003-04 squad became just the third Norwich team to lift the second-tier trophy, adding to the triumphs of 1972 and 1986, but the team of 2019 are in a great position to match those achievements if they can finish the job.
With 69 points from 35 games and a two-point lead at the summit, they are two points better off than Nigel Worthington’s team were at the same point, who were also top of the tree at that point.
“I’ll be honest, we were a lot more hardened, old school, veteran players, so that makes it a little bit, not easier, but the stats from that season were pretty good: 94 points, 18 home wins, only conceded 39 goals,” Huckerby said on Wednesday night’s Pink Un Show.
“I think the difference is that we were very hard to beat but we could also hurt teams. You can’t knock this team because they’ve been absolutely brilliant but conceded quite a few goals.
“We’ve kind of got away with it a little bit because we’re by far and away the best football team in this league, and most teams play football in this league.
“It used to be more of a 50-50 split of teams who smacked it long and scrapped and fought, but we out-play a lot of teams because we’re better at playing football.”
Huckerby, who scored 48 goals in 203 games between 2003 and 2008, added: “We’d win! I was speaking to Adam Drury the other week about this and I can’t believe that more teams don’t rough us up.
“You’d be thinking there’s things you can do to expose them but to be honest, no teams have really done it this season.
“We have the ball quite a bit and we’re very productive when we’ve got the ball. This is the best pure footballing side that I’ve seen here as a player and as a fan, so the last 15 years, the best Norwich team I’ve seen on the ball.”
The 42-year-old, who has remained in Norfolk since retiring and was an academy coach until the early stages of last season, praised the “pace, tempo and enthusiasm” for the improvement from a mid-table side last season, to title contenders now.
Huckerby also said it would be a “massive achievement” to achieve promotion when competing with so much financial muscle.
The former Manchester City, Leeds and Newcastle winger doesn’t want the Canaries to just settle for promotion though.
“If I’m looking at that, I’m thinking ‘we’re winning this league’,” he continued, when assessing the current table.
“We had the same kind of situation in 2003-04 when we lost a game to Cardiff (2-1 away, in March) and then we had a team meeting and I said to everyone ‘we’re going to win the league’.
“You just get in a rhythm where you think you can’t be beaten and I look at this Norwich team and there doesn’t look like there’s many weaknesses, even though we concede a few goals. When you’ve got players who can score goals at the other end you always feel like you’re going to have too much for other teams.
“As a player, you should be looking at that and thinking ‘we’ve got a right chance here’.”
He added: “You want to win the league because it’s something that people remember forever. I know people remember getting promoted, but if you’ve got the chance of winning a league, getting a trophy and your name is up there, it stays up there and you get remembered.”
Huckerby also feels City need to get promotion to keep hold of their star men, including 25-goal striker Teemu Pukki.
“It’s probably a surprise, he was in Scotland and struggled a bit, but he did he struggle with the league or did he struggle with the pressure of playing for Celtic? I think that’s two different things,” the Canaries legend said.
“But he’s been a revelation and it’s going to probably be difficult to keep hold of him if we don’t go up. Hopefully we go up, he stays and gets a new bumper contract that he deserves!”
NCFC PROMOTION CAMPAIGNS (AFTER 35 GAMES)
• 2018-19 – 69 points – 1st (?)
• 2003-04 – 67 points – 1st (finished 1st with 94 points)
• 2014-15 – 62 points – 4th (finished 3rd with 86 points)
• 2010-11 – 60 points – 3rd (finished 2nd with 84 points)
• Catch up with the latest episode of the Pink Un Show in the video player above