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Last Updated: Monday, 21 November 2005, 14:34 GMT
Huckerby eyes Norwich revival
By Chris Bevan

Norwich forward Darren Huckerby
We do not have a divine right to win games or be top of the league but we expect ourselves to do better
Darren Huckerby

Darren Huckerby can understand why it is a frustrating time to be a Norwich fan.

The Canaries were among the summer favourites for an instant return to the top flight following their relegation from the Premiership last season - but have struggled to find any sort of consistency so far.

They beat Luton 2-0 on Saturday but are still languishing in 15th place in the table.

It is a far cry from the club's last promotion campaign in 2004 when Norwich won the title and finished 15 points clear of third-placed Sunderland to go up in style.

Huckerby, who played an important role in that success after joining from Manchester City, feels there are several reasons why Norwich have failed to repeat that success.

He told BBC Sport: "People just thought we would walk it this time and that has been one of the biggest problems.

"But first and foremost, I think that in our last season at this level, nobody thought we were going to be as good as we were.

"I would not say we sneaked in through the back door but people did not see us as a threat. By the time they realised we were a good team it was too late.

"This time teams are wary. Every team that has come to Carrow Road has sat behind the ball, hoping to nick something.

"Fair enough if that is what they think they need to do - but it has not made things easy for us.

Huckerby played a big part in Norwich's last promotion in 2004
Huckerby played a big part in Norwich's last promotion in 2004

"Also, things really went for us last time. We did not have any injuries and I think that makes a big difference because we have not got the biggest squad in the world this year.

"We have been losing a lot of key players - we lost Dean Marney for three months, Jason Shackell has been out for two months now and Leon McKenzie has been out long-term too.

"We have not had a settled side yet this season - I don't think we have gone two games with the same team. I know it is no excuse but it makes a big difference.

"And we have lost and drawn a lot of games that we should have won - but we are still playing against good teams. They know how to play in this division and it is taking us a bit of time to get used to it."

Norwich's poor league position has led to speculation over the future of manager Nigel Worthington - but Huckerby believes the players should take responsibility too.

"The best we can hope for now is a play-off place," he added. "With the kind of people we have got in our squad that should be the least we get.

"We do not have a divine right to win games or be top of the league but we expect ourselves to do better.

"The pressure on the manager has come through to the players a little bit. We know we have not been playing as well as we can and obviously he is the first one who gets the stick."

Worthington publicly questioned the effort his players had put in after their defeat by Wolves at the start of November but Huckerby insists his team-mates' attitude is not a problem - and feels it is still possible to salvage some success this season.

"That was more spur of the moment from the gaffer after the game I think," he explained. "I have never seen it happen where people are not putting it in.

"The players always give their best but sometimes the other team are better than you. On the day Wolves were better than us.

"More than anything I think the gaffer just wanted us to realise that we're in a very lucky position with what we're doing, and we have got to give it our all every game.

"I have not been playing as well as I can do and neither has the team. But hopefully when we get everybody back fit we will be able to push on.

"A lot of things have gone wrong for us this season but we are still only six points off the play-offs."


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