Malky glad to be back

CHRIS LAKEY Malky Mackay pointed a friendly finger at former team-mate Paul McVeigh as he grudgingly admitted he was responsible for Norwich opening goal.


Malky Mackay pointed a friendly finger at former team-mate Paul McVeigh as he grudgingly admitted he was responsible for Norwich opening goal.

Mackay tangled with McVeigh on the edge of the Watford area, as the City strike tried to turn on a pass from Jason Jarrett. But as soon as Mackay laid a hand on the Northern Irishman's shoulder that was that- McVeigh went down and referee Martin Atkinson immediately pointed to the penalty spot, from where the same player despatched the kick.

TV replays suggested first contact was made outside the area, but Mackay - who had already introduced himself by clattering into the back of McVeigh after just five minutes - conceded his old pal had got one over him.

“I probably got too much of a hand on him, but my little friend went down very, very easily,” he said ruefully. “I thought it was on the edge of the box, but maybe it was a penalty.”

Mackay had the last laugh as Watford snatched a late, late winner but there was never anything to suggest that the boy from Bellshill who made Norwich his home for six years is any less popular than he was as a player.

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His arrival on the pitch pre-match and as the teams came out for kick-off was greeted with thunderous applause, the like of which has probably never been produced for any other ex-Canary. His polite response after the final whistle was indicative of the man.

Finally, it was his chance to say goodbye to his fans - something he was unable to do back in September 2004, when he moved on to West Ham having helped City into the Premiership but failing to make an appearance for them in the top flight.

“The fans have been fantastic,” he said. “It's my first time back and it was an emotional day. I had family and friends at the game and the club means a lot to me.

“I had a lot of great times here a large part of my life was here - my son was born here. The Norwich people know how I feel about them. I was given a smashing round of applause at the end and it was just great to get back and finally say cheerio to them.”

Mackay also paid tribute to Adrian Boothroyd, the former Norwich youth coach who masterminded Watford's success in his first visit to Carrow Road as a manager.

“We have a decent away record this season and it's testament to the manager and the coaching staff that the work ethic at the club is very similar to when I was at Norwich,” he said. “Obviously he was here as well and he has a good worth ethic.

“He is fantastic to work for. He has got a lot of enthusiasm and is a great man manager, but he also thinks a lot about the game. He has studied managers and is certainly a thinker about football. He has got us working hard and we train well. He has standards he wants us to adhere to, he wants the right type of person to come into the club, very similar to Norwich.”

While Saturday's defeat was discouraging for Canaries fans, Mackay did have some words of consolation, predicting that City would still be in the mix come the end of the season.

“Norwich didn't start the season too well but came back and are sitting on the edge of the play-offs so there is a long way to go,” he said. “Last season at West ham come February there was a lot of pressure on Alan Pardew and talk of him being sacked. Come the summer he gets promotion and signs a new five-year contract. Things turn around in weeks and you are only judged on what happens at the end of the season.

“Anybody in the top 10 can still go up - Crystal Palace and Preston are coming on strong. Once you are in the play-offs it is how you do on the day and without a doubt Norwich are still involved - I wouldn't right them off for the play-offs at the end of the season.”

Having helped City and then West Ham to the Premiership but without actually playing in the top flight himself, Mackay wants to set the record straight with a third consecutive promotion.

“I would love to be able to make it three - I came to Watford to win things and win promotion, I didn't come here just to sit,” he said. “I wanted promotion - it's the most important thing this season.

“I think we have played everyone and no one has turned us over heavily. We have Sheffield United, Leeds, Wolves and Palace yet so there is a long way to go.”

Should City fail to make it, you get the feeling that most fans would be rooting for Mackay to help Watford to an unlikely chance to rough it with the big boys.