Too early to judge City trio - Culverhouse
Michael Bailey Norwich City legend Ian Culverhouse has faith his three former team-mates can turn around his old club's fortunes. Culverhouse will be in the dugout for the Canaries' League One derby next season, with the 44-year-old now assistant manager to Paul Lambert at Colchester United.
Norwich City legend Ian Culverhouse has faith his three former team-mates can turn around his old club's fortunes.
Culverhouse will be in the dugout for the Canaries' League One derby next season, with the 44-year-old now assistant manager to Paul Lambert at Colchester United. And as a former team-mate of Bryan Gunn, Ian Butterworth and Ian Crook during the club's heyday of Uefa Cup football and Premier League challenges in the 1990s, Culverhouse believes it only fair the trio are judged after a summer rebuilding the club's permanent playing staff.
Culverhouse said of the Canaries' Championship relegation: “It's a great shame, it really is. I just hope they can get back quickly.
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“They have got three very good people in charge. I know them all personally and I spoke to Ian Crook a few days after, and he knows what they've got to rebuild and realises they need to get ready for the next campaign.
“Bryan has now got a chance to stamp his authority on the side. It was a similar situation here when I came on board, where you have to work on what you've got. When you come in they're not your team.
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“He's now going to get to work on different ideas through a pre-season and a whole summer, to stamp his ideas and philosophies on the place, and he'll be judged more on how it goes next season than the last one, and that's a fair judgement.”
With Butterworth having spent nearly three seasons at Hartlepool United before becoming Gunn's number two, Culverhouse feels the former Norwich captain and City's first-team coach Crook, will help make the Canaries' first third tier campaign in almost 50 years a successful one.
“Bryan can rely on Butts' knowledge in this league,” added Culverhouse. “He'll have a rough idea of the places they'll be going and what they will come up against. Ian Crook too, I know he's looking forward to the challenge very much.
“I can see why the club got those guys in. They can galvanise the club.”
You may think the flowing football that accompanied the playing days of Gunn, Culverhouse and co at Carrow Road should be left in the dressing room with the rough and tumble of League One waiting from August 8.
But the ex-Canary is confident you can play your way out of the division - as long as you compete.
“You've got to stand up to the physical side of things because teams will have that intensity to their play, but there are plenty of teams who try to get the ball down and play,” he said. “It is rare to come up against a long ball side these days but the ball does go forward that little bit quicker teams, so they won't just give you chances in their own half.”
Lambert and Culverhouse are already preparing for next season too. The United squad only finished for the summer on Friday after a two-week weights and training regime, and they are already booked in for a pre-season training camp in the German city of Bonn in July.
But with Charlton and Southampton relegated alongside Norwich from the Championship, League One promises to be a stern division to get out of.
“The teams that didn't go up will also be a force and the three coming up as well; next year will prove to be a very competitive league, very physical and everyone will be battling for their place at the top,” added Culverhouse, who hopes Colchester will also be in the mix for a play-off.
“That's the aim,” he said. “As soon as we report back in the summer, that will be the main focus and with everyone pulling in the same direction we'll give ourselves a really good chance of making it.
“The main objective when we joined in October was to stabilise the club and keep them in the league, which we've done, and in the end we did really well because we had people starting to talk about the play-offs.
“We were always a little way off that, but we've come in and done what we set out to achieve.”
Right-back Culverhouse played 369 times for City from 1985-94 and last returned to Carrow Road 12 months ago, to be named in Norwich's greatest ever eleven.
And although a pre-season reunion with Norwich had already been in the pipeline, Culverhouse he is looking forward to returning to Carrow Road next season.
“We originally had a pre-season friendly organised with them but that's gone out of the window because we're now in the same division,” said Culverhouse. “But I'm really looking forward to going back to Carrow Road.”