Huckerby - Never let this happen again
Michael Bailey Whether Norwich City's season ends in Championship safety or relegation, things must never be this bad again, according to Canaries legend Darren Huckerby.
Whether Norwich City's season ends in Championship safety or relegation, things must never be this bad again, according to Canaries legend Darren Huckerby.
Three wins from their last four games have seen Bryan Gunn's men go from perilous danger to 20th in the table, and with seven matches of the season remaining, another three victories should secure second tier football at Carrow Road for another season.
But once the dust settles on what has been another tortuous campaign for Norwich City, Huckerby wants things to be different at Carrow Road - starting this summer.
“The team were in a right mess and we were struggling big time,” said Huckerby, who believes it is still too early to say who should be in charge of football matters next season.
“It is too early to say whether this has been working and what should be there next season. But whatever happens this season, we cannot let it happen again, because with the players we've got and the fan base, we shouldn't be where we are. That should be addressed at the end of the season.
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“They've put a few good results together. They're not out of the woods yet but it is in their own hands now and I'd be very disappointed if they go down now.
“It's strange how a couple of results can give everybody a lift, but there is still a lot of hard work to be done.
“You just don't want to be down there, let's face it. All you can do is get results; it's not even about performances. Every game is about results and then we can try and build on that for next season.
“But we cannot let this season happen again. Money has got to be invested and the pool of the squad has got to be Norwich City players.
“That's my opinion, but for a club with 25,000 fans every week, it shouldn't be scrapping around the bottom of the Championship.”
Like most City fans, Huckerby thought Norwich's defeat at Blackpool just seven days ago may have decided whether City would be playing Championship football next season.
“A week ago I'd have said no, but now it's theirs to chuck away,” said Huckerby, speaking from his California home. “I know there are tough games left but with the players we have got we should have enough to stay up, then they can concentrate on making a better start next season.
“We have left it late, but hopefully this is it.”
Huckerby is in preseason training with his San Jose Earthquake team-mates as he prepares for another crack at the USA's Major League Soccer play-offs.
Although he has been back in the States since January, Huckerby keeps in regular contact with his former Colney colleagues - including Jason Shackell, who has been impressive since rejoining on loan from Wolves for the rest of the season, having letf the Canaries on August deadline day.
“The key thing for me was bringing Shacks back, to be honest,” said Huckerby. “We've had three clean sheets in the last four games and adding him has given them a bit more strength and fight at the back.
“Shacks is a good player, one of the best in the Championship, and giving him a chance to come back has made them look far more solid than before.
“At the moment, he's contracted to Wolves and it would be up the club if they wanted to bring him back permanently. Could they afford to do it? I don't know.”
Next up for the Canaries' survival bandwagon are high-flying Birmingham City, where Shackell was the Canaries' match-winner in their last visit to St Andrews two seasons ago, before a Huckerby wondergoal helped Norwich complete a League double over the Championship's eventual runners-up.
And although 18 places currently separating the two sides in the table, Huckerby believes Norwich can bag their second away win in three trips - even without injured Irish winger, Wes Hoolahan.
“If you look at form guide, we've won three out of four and we'll be going in full of confidence. But it'll be a tough game going there, and Wes will be a big loss,” added Huckerby.
“But we've got the players who can come in and make sure we win. Otherwise we could find ourselves going back into the bottom three.”
Both Jamie Cureton and Mark Fotheringham have been on the end of fans' criticism in recent times, and having made 203 appearances of his own in a yellow shirt, Huckerby admitted the City fans' reaction to some players this season has been understandable.
“If they win games and play well, the fans won't be moaning,” said Huckerby. “If you don't perform, you get booed and you have got to get on with it. It's not nice but that's it.
“If you're top of the league and playing well, everyone's happy. The players know that.”