Wholesale changes needed to make impact

Neil Doncaster has said that “major surgery” will be needed at Carrow Road this summer. The question is, 'Who deserves to survive Roeder's cull?' Just as he did when he began to unpick the unholy mess left behind by Peter Grant, let's start at the back and work forward.

Richard Balls

Neil Doncaster has said that “major surgery” will be needed at Carrow Road this summer. The question is, 'Who deserves to survive Roeder's cull?' Just as he did when he began to unpick the unholy mess left behind by Peter Grant, let's start at the back and work forward.

In David Marshall we have an excellent goalkeeper and his third place in the Player of the Year awards was deserved. Admittedly, his judgment of situations has, on occasion, been questionable, although QPR's Lee Camp put that into perspective with some rush-of-blood-to-the-head decisions reminiscent of Bruce Grobbelaar. But time and again this season the Scot has proved his worth and he undoubtedly spared us several hammerings. Without doubt, one of Grant's most valuable legacies.

Any regular readers of this column will know my feelings on our defence and I just hope that Roeder can show the kind of ruthlessness here that his predecessors did not. Sides that win promotion tend to have an ever -present and solid back four that can also weigh-in with a some priceless goals. We had that in 2003/04 (Adam Drury, Craig Fleming, Malky Mackay, Marc Edworthy) but have failed to replicate it since. We must.

If we are to plod along as Championship 'ne'er do wells', then Gary Doherty is plenty good enough. He has done little wrong since regaining his first team place and has come in for less stick from fans as a result.

But if we are serious about putting together a side that can secure automatic promotion or a play-off place, then he just isn't up to it and should be released this summer.

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He lacks the necessary pace and despite playing as a striker in his career, he has contributed an embarrassing three league goals in four seasons for Norwich. Martin Taylor, who managed to find the net twice in eight games during his loan spell from Birmingham, should top our summer shopping list.

Jason Shackell has also been solid but is no Ryan Shawcross and seems to have lost his way. We should look to acquire a second centre-back from whom he should be looking to wrestle his first team shirt. Jon Otsemobor has my vote at right-back. Another Grant signing which paid off, he is strong, has electrifying pace, likes to get forward and did what none of his defensive colleagues did all season - score a goal.

We do, of course, need cover in this position. As for Derby's Mo Camara, I'd sign him up. We lost only six of the 21 games he started this season and had the manager not had Ryan Bertrand on loan at the same time, he would have nailed down his place.

In midfield, some of the pieces of the jigsaw are already in place. It doesn't always work out when players return to their old club, but Darel Russell has been outstanding since his return from Stoke.

He works like a Trojan, brings others into the play and has even treated us to five goals, the nerve of him.

Mark Fotheringham's contract is up and should be renewed as, of course, should that of Darren Huckerby if he wants to stay for another year. Players of his ability don't grow on trees as reflected by the reported interest of Sunderland, Crystal Palace and others in his signature. Our squad is neither strong or deep enough for his services to no longer be of use.

But Roeder has admitted he has already made his decision and judging by his comments about the club needing “new heroes” it is probably safe to assume he is being let go.

Lee Croft is a rum 'un. On the one hand he gives us a threat that few others do, but there is no getting away from the absence of goals and end product. A squad player and no more.

Matty Pattison needs to get himself back to where he was when he first pulled on a yellow shirt and a fully fit Luke Chadwick (if there can be such a thing) can make an impact at this level. Of course, if Chelsea can be persuaded to let Ryan Bertrand stay out on loan, we should bite their Premiership hands off.

So what about Jamie Cureton? Has he missed just too many chances to feature in Roeder's plans? Can he recapture his Colchester form next season? With Dion Dublin retiring, Huckerby looking to be leaving, and Ched Evans possibly returning to Eastlands, it's a no-brainer.

We paid Colchester around £800,000 for him and for that we have had 14 goals - double the number banged in by Luke Varney this season, for whom Charlton shelled out £2 million.

Then there's Freddy Eastwood, whose return on Wolves' investment of £1.5 million has been five goals.

Even if Manchester City, with or without Sven-Goran Eriksson, can be persuaded to let Evans stay here next season, we need a new big man - a Iwan Roberts, a Dean Ashton, a Dion Dublin. If we can find one who can fill the void of experience and leadership left by Dublin's departure, so much the better.

So to recap, that's two central defenders, a left back, a right-winger and a big target man - and that's just to give us a starting line-up which is fit for purpose.


Escaping a last day relegation scrap might not seem like much of a prize, if any prize at all.

Yet the relief which came after that early red card and Ched Evans' opening goal, and the unbridled joy that was unleashed when the second and third went in, was in no way out of place.

Adoration was heaped on Darren Huckerby and Dion Dublin, Matty Pattison left the field to a standing ovation and with his name echoing around the stadium, and Glenn Roeder and Delia Smith got the 'Give us a wave' treatment as the exuberance spread.

Afterwards, the reception afforded the players and management during the end-of-season lap of honour said it all about the scale of the achievement and the unstinting loyalty of supporters in these parts.

Achievement is one word, miracle is another.

The trouble with that 13-match unbeaten run on which Glenn Roeder took us is that it altered our perspective and allowed us loftier ambitions.

When that purple patch ended and we slipped back into trouble, there was a sense of dismay.

And when the players then failed to stir themselves to take on Ipswich at Portman Road, that was a bitter pill to swallow, even for supporters as indomitable as City's.

But the truth is that even going into that game with survival in our sights was testament to the transformation of the team overseen by Glenn Roeder since the previous local derby.

That we will embark on another Championship campaign in August means that Roeder has indeed completed Mission Impossible.

That is why yet another year to forget at Carrow Road came to a close amid a party atmosphere.

But will this club deserve another euphoric send-off next May if once again it has come no closer to fulfilling its ambitions of promotion?

If that does happen, it will not be just the ambitions of the board of directors that will need examining but our very own.