Stage set for Hucks
Chris Lakey Canaries star Darren Huckerby admits he hasn't played well enough this season to warrant the offer of a new contract - but says there is no rift with manager Glenn Roeder.
Canaries star Darren Huckerby admits he hasn't played well enough this season to warrant the offer of a new contract - but says there is no rift with manager Glenn Roeder.
Huckerby's role at Carrow Road has rarely been questioned during his four-year reign of terror among opposition defences, but he has found himself sidelined during the currently successful Roeder revolution, which has all but seen off the threat of relegation.
However, Roeder has confirmed Huckerby is a definite starter against Barnsley this afternoon amid signs - amid signs that the relationship between manager and player was on a much more even keel than many fans assumed.
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It's an opportunity Huckerby knows he needs to take with both feet if he is to be offered a new deal by Roeder - and issue which ahs, not for the first time, divided City's fans.
“We have been on a long journey together and hopefully it will continue a bit longer,” he said. “But would I offer me a new contract at the minute? Probably not, because I haven't probably deserved one. We will see.
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“At the minute I would definitely discuss a new contract, but, quite rightly so, the gaffer hasn't decided to do that yet.”
This afternoon will be Huckerby's first start since the FA Cup third round replay defeat at Bury on January 15 and his first in the Championship this year.
“It's a chance,” he said. “I don't think I really need to show what I can do, but I think I've got to get a level of consistency that I've shown over the last four years that I haven't had this season.
“I have had issues this season and hopefully I am getting over them now and I want to give it my best shot until the end of the season.
“I have been here four years now, I love the club. It is football first, it is not a problem to me. I will honour my contract like I think every player should so it's not a big issue.
“It has been a lot of responsibility on my shoulders for a few years and I just want to be part of the team for whatever time I have got left.”
Huckerby's absence for the trip to Leicester last weekend, when City's 13-game unbeaten run came to an end after a 4-0 thrashing, once again split City's fans down the middle and prompted rumours of a fall-out with Roeder.
But there were signs yesterday from both player and manager that they do have a working relationship.
“Me and the manager have spoken and it's clear what the situation is,” said Huckerby. “There is no problem there - people try and make things out that aren't there. The fact of the matter is last week the gaffer didn't want to pick me, that's all it was.
“I've had no fall-out with the manager whatsoever,” said Huckerby, who is just seven games short of 200 appearances and four goals shy of the half century.
“I've read things that I fall out with every manager I've played for. I can honestly say I've never fallen out with any of them.
“Maybe I've said things at certain times which have been seen as controversial, but a lot of the time it's the truth, but I think people would rather hear that than some spiel about, 'oh, no, everything's great'.
“Maybe I get picked out because you boys seem to print and make headlines out of everything I say, but I am happy with the contribution I have had at this club.
“If you ask any manager I have played for I would have thought they'd say I am a joy to work with because I work hard, I try my best every week and I am a very good professional.
“Obviously I have disagreements with managers, but I would never say that I fall out with any of them.”
Huckerby also distanced himself from comment by his agent, Phil Smith, who said his client would be leaving in the summer - the same agent who, four years ago, said Huckerby was too good for Norwich City. Huckerby signed, and the rest is history.
“He has got my best interest at heart, but sometimes he doesn't think when he says things, that's all,” said Huckerby. “He is doing his job; realistically I can sign for somebody else now, so he is doing his job.
“Everyone knows I usually speak the truth and like I say I will be here to the end of the season, whatever happens.”
Smith's comments clearly haven't helped any local difficulties between the pair.
“He (Huckerby) has come in to see me a few times and it is completely opposite to what his agent is saying,” said Roeder. “I don't know if they're playing a game, I wouldn't know. He's told me he'll be here for the last game of the season against Sheffield Wednesday. I haven't found Hucks to be anything but a truthful young man, yet his agent has come out and said he will be playing in America. I'm not losing any sleep.”
Roeder's instructions to Huckerby are clear and simple: “Go and produce, go and make us some goals, go and score us a few goals. I can only give him a stage, that's all the players - I can't play on there for him.
“Go and produce a performance that Norwich supporters over the last four years have come to expect off him.”