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Canary Poirot

Why the rot has started and what we need to do to stop it - and Dean Ashton is spot on - we NEED TO BE HARD TO BEAT AGAIN

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I have been pacing around my home this evening wondering just how Norwich have become a bad team this season, and why Worthington appears to have lost the plot. And then it hit me, there are three reasons we are in this mess, and there is only one way out of it (which doesn''t involve sacking the manager).

Firstly, we got into the mess we are in today because of what I think is one of Worthington''s biggest failures as a manager - a complete lack of long term planning in terms of the playing staff. When we won promotion to the Premiership, it''s almost as if it caught him and his backroom staff by surprise. It was obvious to everyone that the team which won promotion lacked the quality to compete successfully at Premiership level - new players were vital. And this was where everything began to go wrong. Firstly the team spirit which had been vital to our success under Worthington was ripped away, as key long serving players left, and were replaced by mercenries here for the money. And none of the signings that summer seemed planned. It was almost a case of, we''ll wait and see who''s available and we''ll get who we can. But by then it was too late. We missed out on players and ended up with the one''s we got. The Dean Ashton signing aside (and Safri), which was actually excellent, we weren''t too hot. 

Then came the relegation. And then came more poor long term planning. Worthington rushed out to replace a depleted squad, got what he could, and bought a load of turkeys. But he didn''t know this at the start of the season. Once Worthington knew something was seriously lacking, he raided the loan market as we all would have done. And created a new problem. A load of players who don''t give a monkeys about Norwich, are playing for themselves, and desperately want to avoid getting injured. But the trouble is, Worthington is damned if he plays the loan players who aren''t 100% committed, and damned if he doesn''t, as a number of our contracted players are not good enough for this level.

The final reason we are in a mess, is we are no longer doing the things we did well under Worthington during his first 3 and half years in charge. During those first 3.5 years, Worthington created a fantastic club spirit, but more fundamentally, he made our team hard to beat. We are no longer hard to beat. His teams were based on two flat bank of four defending the goal, a target man to relieve pressure on defence by winning the long ball and holding it up, and a pacy striker. This is what we NEED to get back to doing ASAP! I am convinced this is the reason we are doing badly. If we started keeping clean sheets again, and showing zero flair all over the pitch, it wouldn''t matter - we wouldn''t be losing, and we might start scraping some 1-0 wins via set pieces, freak long range shots, and goal mouth scrambles. That is how 95% of teams in the Championship are successful and survive - sod flair - keep things tight. And now I am about to tell you what personnel changes need to be made to achieve this aim - and it may come as a surprise, but I suggest dropping our two most attacking players - for the sake of survival.

Firstly, Darren Huckerby is a luxury we can no longer afford wide left. He doesn''t defend, and therefore cannot be part of two banks of four. He must either be dropped, or play as a striker, or in a free role.

Secondly, Dean Ashton is, believe it or not, also part of the problem. He is, I accept, our most gifted striker, but he simply cannot play in this Norwich team. His strengths are not compatitible with the rest of our squad. And it is his limitations - his lack of pace, and his weakness as a target man, which make him wasted playing in this team which lacks any sort of quality. Ashton thrives on crosses and balls played to feet. We simply do not have the players around him to play to his strengths. In fact, we try to get him to play using his weaknesses - and it shows. Until we have a better all round team, he is either regretfully sold, or put on the bench.

So my team would be (assuming Davenport''s loan has expired and we don''t sign him):

GK: Green. Shakey this season, but was superb two years ago.

RB: Fleming. Complete lack of anyone else (and avoiding playing too many loan players) he has looked consistently better than Colin and the wages black hole Louis Jean (although maybe a little unfair as he''s always been injured).

LB: Drury. Two years ago, the best Championship left back.

CB. Doherty. Yes he''s a clogger (i.e. good in the air, big, strong, but suspect on the ground lacks pace), but cloggers are good in the Championship - Malky was a clogger and was excellent for us.

CB: Shackell: Another clogger, although if he could improve his positioning and ground play, could turn out to be top quality. Charlton is the only alternative, and although he did well for three months at start of Premiership season at CB, his lack of height preclude him in the Champiomship from being a truely effect CB, although I may be wrong.

RM: Hughes: Simply because we have no one else to play this role. Henderson lacks quality and strength, and is probably going to be playing at a lower level soon. At least Hughes can defend, get stuck in, and charge up and down, and might occasionly swing in a decent cross.

Defensive CM (the old Gary Holt role - the ''water carrier'') - Robinson: I would''ve said Safri but it appears he is no longer committed to NCFC as he wants to avoid getting injured before the African Championship. So if he doesn''t want to play for us, I don''t care how good he is. So regretfully I''ve gone for a loan player. All Robinson has to do is close space and players down and play it simple. Like Holt used to.

Attacking/Play maker CM: Etuhu - seeing as we lack a playmaker, we make do with a Damien Francis-esque attacking midfielder. His role to get into the box and shoot. Simple.

LM: McVeigh. Was superb there for years for Worthington. And defends. Get him back out there. As for Jim Brennen - I NEVER NEVER NEVER EVER want to see that waste of space in a Norwich shirt ever again. Has he ever doen anything of note for us? A goal at Coventry two years ago to make it 2-0. End of.

CF: Thorne. He is, if nothing else, a decent target man, and in a struggling side, that''s what you need. Not convinced by him, but he may produce the goods.

CF: McKenzie/Huckerby. Someone with blinding pace to scare the opposition defence. Without it, you are toothless up front in a side with no flair.


Reading that list of players - we desperately need to begin rebuilding the squad as that list above won''t get you into the playoffs. They''ll keep you up, might even finish mid table. But we need a new midfield, and probably some new defenders too. Might have to sacrifice Ashton I''m afraid to do so.

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