Mackay set for 'hero's welcome'
Craig Fleming expects his long-time pal, Malky Mackay, to be given a hero's welcome at Carrow Road tomorrow. “And rightly so - he was a great servant of this football club,” said Fleming, as his former defensive partner prepares to make his first return to Carrow Road since leaving for West Ham in the summer of 2004.
Norwich City skipper Craig Fleming expects his long-time pal, Malky Mackay, to be given a hero's welcome at Carrow Road tomorrow.
“And rightly so - he was a great servant of this football club,” said Fleming, as his former defensive partner prepares to make his first return to Carrow Road since leaving for West Ham in the summer of 2004.
From there it was on to Vicarage Road and a chance to team up with former City Academy coach Adrian Boothroyd. Together the pair have helped mould Watford into one of this season's surprise packages with a place in the play-offs in the palm of their hands.
“It's no fluke that they're fourth in the league - they're a difficult side to beat,” said Fleming. “I know Adie well, too, from his time here and he's got a good mix there. He's got some decent youngsters and then others with a lot of experience - people like Malky, Clark Carlisle and Marlon King up front.”
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King will, of course, be someone that Fleming will bump into tomorrow afternoon as he and Gary Doherty look to continue their recent rich vein of form.
“It's going pretty well,” said City's longest-serving play, due to celebrate his testimonial next season.
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“To be fair to Gary, he's been on fire this season. But we've played together before and it's gone OK,” said Fleming, convinced that a return to good old-fashioned grit and determination has worked wonders of late. In the midst of those late autumn blues, there is every likelihood that last Saturday's 1-1 draw at Plymouth would have been another soulless 2-0 defeat at Derby. It might not have been particularly pretty, but pretty rarely wins you too many prizes in this division.
“You have to have that steeliness. It definitely helps - particularly in this league,” said Fleming. “And I think we're getting that now in the vast majority of games.”
Just in time, too, as one of the braver-hearted of Norwich's recent favourites returns to pastures old.
“It's Malky's first time back at Carrow Road and, as I say, I'm sure he'll get a warm reception. Cardiff in 2002, the title in 2004 - he was a major part it.
“He's a good friend and we still speak pretty regularly. In fact, I spoke to him about the game at the beginning of the week - that'll do!”
Another familiar face returns to Carrow Road with Watford - no less a figure than the Hornets' manager himself.
It's no surprise to City boss Nigel Worthington that his former youth team coach Adrian Boothroyd has made such an impressive start to his managerial career.
Since leaving City in controversial circumstances a couple of years ago, Boothroyd has moved quickly up the footballing ladder, with tomorrow's visitors flourishing in spectacular fashion under his astute leadership.
Boothroyd, at 34 one of the youngest managers in the Football League, has guided the Hornets to the heady heights of fourth place in the Championship table in his first full season in charge - and will be looking to consolidate that impressive position at the weekend when he makes his first official visit back to Carrow Road.
Worthington always thought his Academy coach had the potential to go a long way - and made the point in no uncertain fashion when Boothroyd quit the Canaries, saying greater efforts should have been made to keep him on board.
But that's water under the bridge now, and the City manager is pleased to see Boothroyd doing well, even though he will be doing his utmost to put one over him tomorrow.
“I brought Adie in here as youth team manager and he did ever so well for us,” he said.
“I would love to have kept him at the club because you need good people around you. I have got a lot of time for Adie - he is a very good coach and as a manager those are not the sort of people you want to lose. But he wanted to get on.
“He went on to West Brom as Academy director, Leeds as first team coach and he finished in the Watford job, where he is doing an excellent job. They are scoring goals, they are tight at the back and are doing well at the moment.”