Roeder’s rebuilding has a long way to go

The half a dozen players offloaded by Norwich City manager Glenn Roeder since his arrival in October may have been described in some quarters as a clear-out, but in the words of the song, you ain't seen nothing yet.

The half a dozen players offloaded by Norwich City manager Glenn Roeder since his arrival in October may have been described in some quarters as a clear-out, but in the words of the song, you ain't seen nothing yet.

Roeder has already warned that by the time he's finished with the Canaries' squad, it will be unrecognisable. And if you bought a programme at today's game against Barnsley - or indeed turn to Page 10 of this newspaper - you may well care to run your finger down the list of players and decide who you think will still be on the club's books at the start of next season.

So far, six players have gone since the new manager came in - only Chris Brown and Joe Lewis commanding fees - and two more may be teetering on the brink.

Striker Ryan Jarvis, out of contract in the summer and currently on loan at Notts County, admitted this week he was resigned to pursuing his career elsewhere, five years after making his senior debut amid such excitement as a 16-year-old. And Scottish midfielder Simon Lappin, who has another season to run on his Norwich deal, has been making a favourable impression at Motherwell, where manager Mark McGhee has already suggested he would like to make his loan deal a permanent one at the end of the season.

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Add to that the fact that veteran striker Dion Dublin has his heart set on retirement in May, and double player of the year Darren Huckerby's future remains uncertain - beyond his determination to honour his contract to the end of the season and give it everything in the meantime - and we could already be into double figures in the departure lounge.

Of the current six loan players, there is no guarantee any of them will be at Carrow Road beyond May, much as Roeder would dearly love to start next season with players like Ched Evans, Ryan Bertrand and - to judge from yesterday's comments - Alex Pearce in his line-up.

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As for City's own young brigade, there are clearly a lot of decisions to be made.

Chris Martin and Damon Lathrope are under contract to 2010, and Michael Spillane to 2009. Roeder said yesterday he was “desperate” for Martin and Spillane to enjoy long careers at Norwich but was deliberately pushing them harder than ever, because they had had it “too easy”. He clearly admires Lathrope after giving him a two and-a-half year deal, but has a programme in place for beefing him up before he will consider exposing him to the demands of first team football.

As for the rest, the club has one-year options on extending the terms of Robert Eagle, Andrew Cave-Brown and Rossi Jarvis, but only Jarvis has featured in the first team this season, and not at all since Roeder's arrival.

Defender Matthew Halliday's contract runs out at the end of the season, while goalkeeper Steve Arnold, defender Patrick Bexfield and midfielder Bally Smart all signed one-year deals towards the end of last season but, apart from Arnold's extended spell on the bench, they have not figured in the senior ranks.

With skipper Mark Fotheringham and defender Gary Doherty sitting down to discuss new deals in the weeks ahead, and both Adam Drury and Luke Chadwick on the long road back from major injuries, the number of current senior players who will definitely be here and fit at the start of next season barely creeps into double figures - and that's without any summer bids for those still under contract.

Roeder admitted yesterday that he was a long way short of getting his squad up to strength.

“I haven't got it quite as I want it. Actually, it's nowhere near how I want it, with enough pressure on places, with enough quality throughout a squad of 20,” he said.

“That's what I'll be aiming to have, a squad of 20 that are all of similar ability, including two 'keepers.

“As everyone knows there is a massive job at Norwich to be done if we're to get back to serious contenders when in this division, which over the last few months we have done, but I'm not an easily satisfied person.”

Contract talks would have to wait for now, he insisted.

“There's still a big job to do here this season. There are lots of games, lots of points. At the appropriate time, we'll talk about next season and that's not just Hucks, that's Fozzy, Doc, all sorts of people,” he said.“If we start getting into contract talks now when there's a big job to do, they'll take their eye off the ball.

“The one thing they've all got to do is keep their eye on the ball.

“We've got a job to do here first. It's my job that people don't get too relaxed around the place.

“We can't sit back and rest. It's a relentless slog, a 46-match league programme.”

How many of the current squad will form part of Roeder's top 20 and be here for next season's relentless slog remains to be seen. But it's almost the cue for that old joke about the last one to leave turning out the light.



It was sad to see the name of one of City's European campaigners being taken in vain in the national Press this week.

The exact words were: “You probably won't remember Jeremy Goss and there are not many reasons why you should. He was the sort of footballer for whom the phrase journeyman professional was invented. Played 188 games in midfield for Norwich City . . .”

So wrote Martin Samuel of The Times in a feature on the UEFA Cup.

For a start it was 238 games - but what's another 50 matches here or there? - the vast majority of them played in the old Division One or the Premier League.

And the small matter of 23 goals, nine of them in that 1993-94 season and many of them memorable. Goss has never pretended he was Glenn Hoddle, nor yet Ian Crook, but successive City managers - certainly Dave Stringer, Mike Walker and Gary Megson - recognised his value to the side.

How most of us would love to have been such a “journeyman” footballer, even for one day.

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