Could Hughes be the new Iwan?

Thank goodness we've had no midweek game. I'm not sure my blood pressure could have taken much more after the excitement of last Saturday's Sunderland match.

Thank goodness we've had no midweek game. I'm not sure my blood pressure could have taken much more after the excitement of last Saturday's Sunderland match.

It really was grim. I don't think I've seen a more boring first half for many years. Throughout the first half, the conversation among about half a dozen of us in the Snakepit revolved around why the chains on the various tower cranes around the ground were different lengths.

And there was also an in-depth discussion about the nasty colour of the cladding on the new hotel. I seriously hope it's due to have another layer put on it, or at least a good lick of paint, because it looked foul.

The football really was that dreadful.


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And yet, in a strange way, it was a vast improvement on what we've seen before.

That might sound contradictory, but if we'd have played anywhere near that badly in our recent past, we'd have been well and truly walloped.

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It obviously helped that Sunderland were as rubbish as we were, but I for one would rather watch us grind out 1-0 victories with a solid defensive display (hats off in particular to Dion Dublin) than watch exciting matches such as the draws at Southend and QPR or the defeats against Stoke and Burnley.

They might have been great games for neutrals, but they were totally unsatisfactory in terms of points on the board.

If we are to have any chance at all this season, we can't afford to fall any further behind the leaders, and in that light last weekend's match was a breath of fresh air.

The other bright spot last weekend - and you don't hear this very often - was the performance of Andy Hughes.

I had some feedback from my column last week in which I referred to him in the context of being one of our worst signings of all time.

Actually, what I said was that Hughes had once again shown “why some people consider him to be a contender for the worst Norwich signing of all time” - I never said that it was my own view. But that's splitting hairs, I suppose.

However, I was careful not to say he was one of our worst 'players' - just one of our worst 'signings'. The difference is crucial.

To be our worst player would take some doing. After all, we've not been short of candidates - particularly over the past few years.

But many of our greatest flops were loan signings, homegrown players who didn't cope with the step-up to first-team football or free transfers. (I don't want to make this too personal, but there were a couple of Dutch signings a few years back who fitted the bill particularly well.)

But Hughes's problem is that he isn't a young player coming through the ranks, and he certainly wasn't free. He cost half a million quid which, for us, is a hefty fee. And I am sure he will be the first to admit that he hasn't justified that fee so far.

He is enthusiastic enough and I've heard it said that if every player showed his commitment, we'd do OK.

But that - in a nutshell - is the whole point; we would be OK, and nothing more. That is why many people think his transfer fee was money badly spent.

It doesn't have to end that way, though.

Hughes might never achieve the status of Iwan Roberts (who will?), but Iwan had a shocking first season in which the boo-boys gave him plenty of stick before he became a Canaries legend.

When he came on as substitute against Sunderland last week, Hughes got stuck in and gave a solid display as an emergency full-back. The fans were even chanting his name, and it was good to hear Peter Grant afterwards say that it had given Hughes a boost.

At the risk of sounding like a scratched record, I have always believed that supporters have the right to say anything they like, within reason, so I'm not going to start telling people to back this player or that.

But perhaps if we all got behind him, we could help Hughes turn his Norwich career around.

Worthington clearly thought he was worth £500,000, so the former Reading man must have something more to offer, surely?

PS: Sorry, I nearly forgot - apparently, the shorter the jib on the crane, the longer its chain. So now I know. And it means that first half wasn't a COMPLETE waste of time.

t Expect Portman Road's library-like atmosphere to be even quieter than usual next weekend when we roll into town (please note: town, not city), before we leave them crying on the telly, as the song goes.

The ridiculous kick-off time of 8am or whenever it is going to be is bad enough. But that is nothing compared with the confusion amongst our Suffolk friends about where the match will actually be played.

The East Anglian Daily Times - yes, I know, one of the EDP's sister papers, and I'm not saying it couldn't happen to us - ran a feature this week about some chap who has written a book on decent pubs near football grounds.

To localise the story, there was a little panel containing his recommended pubs for Ipswich and Colchester - the two football towns in the newspaper's circulation area.

But there was also a list of the five Norwich pubs - including the Adam and Eve, one of my favourites - “for those of you visiting Norwich next Sunday”, according to the EADT.

Either this means the reporter hadn't realised that the match is, in fact, being played in Ipswich, or it signifies that hordes of Bluenoses are already planning to flee north to escape the embarrassment of watching the Tractor Boys humiliated at Portman Road once again.

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