Hucks made for the MLS
David Cuffley Darren Huckerby would be a big hit in Major League Soccer - according to one of Norwich City's best-known American exiles. Former striker Ted MacDougall, still coaching in the United States, believes the fans' favourite is the perfect type of player to make a success of a new career across the Atlantic.
Darren Huckerby would be a big hit in Major League Soccer - according to one of Norwich City's best-known American exiles.
Former striker Ted MacDougall, still coaching in the United States, believes the fans' favourite is the perfect type of player to make a success of a new career across the Atlantic.
Huckerby, controversially released by City boss Glenn Roeder two weeks ago, was named in the Canaries' “Greatest Ever” eleven at yesterday's football and music show at Carrow Road.
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And MacDougall, one of the club's former greats to return for the event, urged the 32-year-old Huckerby to take his chance in the MLS, where he has been linked with Toronto FC and San Jose Earthquakes.
“I spoke to him and I think he'd do fantastic over there, I really truthfully do, because he's the type of player that's right for America,” said MacDougall.
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“What's happened in the MLS is that it's gone from a Disneyland type of game to a more serious game now. It's a proper game and it's got better and better and better and we've got people like Angel coming over, Beckham, Blanco from Mexico. These are getting big money.
“Even players like Landon Donovan, American players, are getting a million a year, so the whole game is getting elevated.
“Now we have to become a nation of not just players but watchers. This is an exciting place to be, America.”
The 60-year-old MacDougall works as youth coach for Atlanta Silverbacks in the USL first division - formerly the A League - one level below the MLS.
He said: “The game is getting better and better and better. Where big clubs in Europe were going to Africa and looking for players, and people like Drogba came out of it, a lot of the professional clubs are now coming to America because we do have athletes and the athletes are not just playing baseball and American football and basketball, they're starting to play soccer.
“So our game is starting to really go through the roof and at youth level we can compete with most teams, up to 15, 16.
“I coach every day and the 10 and 12-year-olds are better technically than the 17-year-olds. I run our youth side and it's fantastic. My under-13s are number nine in the nation and first in Georgia. They came over last year and beat Bournemouth, Reading and Portsmouth, but got hammered by Southampton, which was good for them.”
As for the Canaries, MacDougall reckons getting into the Premier League is a much tougher proposition than when his goals helped them to promotion to Division One in 1975.
He said: “I don't think you can just do it on hard work these days. You need to be prepared, it takes a lot of money. You see that by the number of teams that go straight up and straight down. There's a tremendous gap between the first and second, or whatever you want to call it.
“It's a problem for clubs because they need to spend and £10 million, £15 million is not going to crack it. It's not enough. It's very, very difficult to compete and if you look at the Premier League half the teams are probably just happy to stay there.
“The gap is much greater because of the money. These players that I've been involved with, we were on two bob a week, it was nothing. These people are on £40,000 a week.
“It's not realistic for people who live their normal lives. That becomes a bit of a problem because it moves away from being just the normal working man's game. These people are millionaires.”
MacDougall described yesterday's reunion with former managers and players as “an absolutely fantastic day” after meeting John Bond and Ken Brown, the management team who brought him to Norwich in 1973, and former colleagues Kevin Keelan, Dave Stringer, Duncan Forbes and Martin Peters.
“Kevin I see because he lives over there where I live but I haven't seen Duncan and Dave for many, many years, and I've known Mike Walker since 1967. It's just a wonderful experience,” he said.