Cloth Cutting in the Wool City
The fourth departee from the Championship to be thrust under The Two Unfortunates microscope are those seemingly perennial upper echelon dwellers Norwich City. Back in the days of the old Third Division South, the East Anglians rarely troubled the press hordes, but the past half century has been good for the Canaries and a return to their 1950s pastures will have come as a major shock, especially as it arrives not long after the false dawn of a fleeting Premier League appearance in 2004-5.
Last season’s catastrophe had its roots in the suspicious minded, edgy and uncomfortable management of Glenn Roeder, most notable for paranoid end of match condemnations of referees and opposing players, with everyone to blame barring him. A dressing room is a hard thing to lose, but the rumours emanating from Carrow Road became nastier in time and despite some sensational highs (a 5-2 battering of Champions Wolves springs to mind), the curve was alarmingly downward. In January, City goalkeeping hero Bryan Gunn was brought in to replace the Essex man but he was unable to put an end to the deterioration in form and League One football beckoned.
Norwich returned to basics within a few days of the season ending with the appointment of a yellower than yellow management team: old timers Ian Crook, John Deehan and Ian Butterworth all being brought in to assist Gunn, but what of the XI? Loanee Ryan Bertrand was never likely to re-sign and has indeed scarpered to Reading’s Mad Stad and mercurial wing man Lee Croft has made his way to Derby. It seems likely, therefore, that Canaries will have to rely on youth for high points in what looks like the toughest third tier line up for many years. Raw recruit from Dartford, Cody McDonald gave Andre Bikey a torrid time in a televised defeat at the season’s death and could still prove to be a brilliant piece of business, but Jamie Cureton’s best days are behind him. The troubled Chris Martin has returned from Luton to bolster a raggedy forward line.
Further back, the misfiring Wes Hoolahan is still around and could recapture his Blackpool form down a rung, Sammy Clingan is being linked with moves and Darel Russell is rumoured to be the subject of a potential swap deal for Preston’s Simon Whaley – an arrangement that on first glance might actually appear to benefit the Canaries. Norwich needed to get rid of the bigger wage earners such as Alan Lee and Antoine Sibierski and these additional offloads will lighten the financial outgoings. New to the club are Swansea benchwarmer Owain Tudur Jones and Hartlepool mainstay Michael Nelson, a centre back who looks to be a solid signing. Cloth cutting is an appropriate activity in a city that rose to prominence in the Middle Ages on the back of the woollen trade.