Charlton leaves with a parting shot

CHRIS LAKEY Simon Charlton has claimed he was an “easy target” for manager Nigel Worthington during a two-year spell at Carrow Road in which he made just 39 league starts.



Simon Charlton has claimed he was an “easy target” for manager Nigel Worthington during a two-year spell at Carrow Road in which he made just 39 league starts.

The 34-year-old's Premiership experience was a major factor in his move from Bolton to Norwich as Worthington prepared for City's return to the top flight in the summer of 2004.

But it quickly turned sour and Charlton now finds himself looking for another club after ending the season as an unused sub against Wolves at the weekend.

The reason, he says, is because he was never allowed to settle in one position - and when results went against City, he was among the first to be axed.

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“It was as soon as I signed really,” he said. “I played centre back for the first 20 games or something and I played with Flem (Craig Fleming) as well and neither of us are giants in stature. When I played at Bolton I had a big lad playing with me and he went for all the headers and I would cover round so it worked really well.

“But I think because we didn't have a big lad playing next to me here it didn't work the same way and then I just got bandied around, playing left-back midfield or wherever.

“I always felt I was dropped when I thought I didn't really deserved to be.

“I am an honest player - if I have had a bad game I will stuck my hand up and say, 'yes, I don't deserve to play next week', but I think there were just too many occasions when I played ok or didn't play any worse than anybody else, or certainly in the games we didn't perform well as a team, but I seemed to be an easy target at times, I felt.”

Charlton was seen as the ideal man to add some experience to the Premiership new boys and flew to Malaysia, where City were on a pre-season tour, to signed.

In his first season he made 22 league starts - this season he's started just 17 games.

“I have to say it's been a frustrating couple of seasons for me overall, probably not really how I foresaw the whole move coming off really, probably because of the success I had at Bolton,” said Charlton. “I thought we were going to come down here and the club would have the same ambition as they had really, but it just hasn't really come about as much as I would have liked.

“But I made some good friends on and off the pitch and I suppose that's a good thing in itself.”

Charlton said he felt sorry for on-loan defender Zesh Rehman who paid the price for a poor performance at Selhurst Park, where Norwich were thumped 4-0 by Crystal Palace - and hasn't started a game since.

“I felt for Zesh because at Palace he had a poor game,” said Charlton. “But I thought him and Gary Doherty were making a pretty fair partnership. That happened to him and I don't think he has played since. He is obviously quite frustrated as well and looking forward to getting back to London.”

Charlton's next visit to Carrow Road could well be as a player, with a couple of Championship clubs interested in his services.

“I have got a couple of sniffs for next year - it's just waiting really because nothing happens until the week before pre-season starts,” he said. “I am just going to go off on holiday and enjoy myself and come back wherever I end up feeling refreshed and cracking on. I am still hungry.

“The best thing I can say to sell myself is that I am refreshed because I haven't played that much for two seasons.”

Charlton leaves Norwich with mixed feelings - but good wishes

“For all that has happened, it is a lovely club and I just hope that one day it can fulfil the huge potential it has got,” he said. “It is very tough now; you have the three teams coming down now who are going to be very strong and I think Wolves will be there or thereabouts. Then there are the three teams in the play-offs at the moment who will also probably be knocking around again.

“From a neutral point of view I think the Championship is going to be probably the most exciting league in the country next year. As for Norwich's chances, it's a tough one. I think that with the talent that the players have got here they should be up there, but it's going to be tough for them.”