‘We’ve got to pull together’ - Passionate rallying cry from Canaries legend ahead of final three games
- Credit: Archant © 2004
Norwich City legend Darren Huckerby has passionately called for a response from the relegated Canaries squad during their final three Premier League games, after admitting he felt ‘embarrassed’ while watching Saturday’s 4-0 thrashing by West Ham.
The former Canaries winger - who scored 48 goals in 203 appearances for City - always demanded high standards from his team-mates and has never been afraid to make his true feelings known.
Huckerby was an integral part of the team which were promoted as champions under Nigel Worthington in 2004, only for a late-season surge to fall apart during a 6-0 humiliation at Fulham on the final day.
All of which leaves the 44-year-old former academy coach well placed to give his view on the manner of City’s latest relegation disappointment, equalling a club record of seven straight league defeats and losing a home league game to West Ham for the first time since 1973.
“It’s one of the first times I’ve actually felt embarrassed watching,” said Huckerby. “We made West Ham look like Barcelona in the second half, they had so much time on the ball, they could do what they wanted.
“Antonio scored four goals, I think two is the most he’s ever scored in his career (in a game) before, he scored four, it could have been more.”
Huckerby was alongside fellow Canaries legends in reviewing the defeat on the NR1 Live show on City’s official YouTube channel, speaking to Darren Eadie, Rob Newman and Adrian Forbes.
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He continued: “You’re looking at that group of players, who has shown anything in the last four or five games, Tim Krul maybe? Other than that I don’t see any fight, don’t see any passion, much ability - we’ve completely downed tools.
“Considering there is three games to go, it’s shocking really, you can’t even make it sound good. Anyone that’s watched that, we are so far off West Ham and they are fifth bottom of the league? We’re miles off it, miles off it.”
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The raw emotions were clear to see from all of the former City players as Daniel Farke’s team continued to slump back to the Championship in increasingly distressing style, confirming they will be relegated on the lowest top-flight points tally of any City side since three points for a win was introduced in 1982.
Forbes came through the academy at Norwich before scoring eight goals in 121 games between 1996 and 2001, returning as an academy coach but leaving after completing his two-year Elite Coach Apprenticeship Scheme in April 2019. He is now working as head of coaching and professional player development at another of his former teams, Championship club Luton Town.
“It could be hugely damaging,” he said of City’s dire run of form. “You’re looking at Norwich players now that not only are they young and have come through the academy and had the opportunity to get Premier League football very early in their career, but from a club point of view, they’re also an asset.
“So they have to protect that asset in numerous ways, how do you build their confidence going into the next few games, how do you help them cope with their mindset of ‘do I stay, do I go? Is my mate going to leave? Do I want to be part of a Championship club next year? Do I want to continue to have the beautiful life in the Premier League?’.
“So there’s a lot for the club as a whole and the manager to think about but I think the biggest thing for me going forward with Norwich City when you look at what’s next, it’s not what happens in the next three games because the precedent has already been set by recent performances, it’s next season.
“What are Norwich City Football Club going to do next season and how are they going to set their stall out in the Championship?
“I’m speaking from my own experiences now but when you look at a Stoke, Derby, Swansea that are down there, you mentioned Huddersfield who are struggling down there, the Championship next season is not going to be a stroll in the park for Norwich City to come straight back in and expect (to do well).
“So there’s a lot of things and a lot of work that’s going to have to go on behind the scenes at the football club as a whole, to make sure that they set their stall out next season and for the future going forward.”
Huckerby was not willing to turn attentions to the future just yet though, insisting that the Canaries have to stop the rot, with a trip to Chelsea on Tuesday followed by a home game against Burnley next Saturday and a trip to dethroned champions Manchester City the following Sunday.
“I kind of disagree with Forbesy about the next three games aren’t important,” he added. “We’ve got a big game against Chelsea, Man City away and Burnley who are never easy to play against. If we get beat six, seven or eight nil at Man City, these players have got to take this on to next season.
“It’s going to be a two or three-week turnaround before the start of next season and we could end up losing 10 games on the trot, we’re in a bit of trouble now, we’ve got to come together.
“I think the biggest thing we’ve lost from last season, when everyone was together and that togetherness has nearly gone now - we’ve turned into a bit of an embarrassment.
“We’ve got to pull together somehow and get a couple of good results before the end of the season, just to get a bit of momentum before next season.”
- For more analysis of City’s situation, you can listen to the latest edition of the Pink Un Podcast above, recorded after the defeat to the Hammers. Click here to subscribe to the show.