Sale brings mixed reaction

Norwich City fans reacted with resignation yesterday to the news that star striker Dean Ashton was on his way to the Premiership with a move to West Ham.

By Richard Balls

Norwich City fans reacted with resignation yesterday to the news that star striker Dean Ashton was on his way to the Premiership with a move to West Ham.

Most seemed to feel the departure of the club's most prized asset was inevitable and greeted the £7.25m deal as good business for the club, which signed him from Crewe Alexandra 12 months ago for around £3m.

But some were last night questioning whether manager Nigel Worthington would spend the huge windfall wisely and bring in players who could spur the Canaries on to a place in the Championship play-offs.

Roy Blower, chairman of Norwich City Independent Supporters' Association (NCISA) and who recently urged the club to appoint a new manager, said: “The sad thing is that we are losing a quality player when there is still an outside chance of the club reaching the play-offs. Now the question that arises is how we spend the money and will we bring in quality players in.

“Most fans have great doubt in their minds about his ability to bring quality players to this club and some of the signings have not been of the quality that they would have expected.

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“I think they need to bring at least three quality players into the side to strengthen each area. We need a striker to replace Dean and although we have an abundance of midfielders another one would not go amiss. We have also not settled the right back position.”

Ben East, secretary of Northern Canaries, said he was sad to see Ashton leave the club and questioned whether he would have done so in the January transfer window if City had been on course for promotion instead of languishing in mid table.

Nigel Worthington had made good signings, with Ashton and Darren Huckerby the most notable examples, but he had also “taken punts on players” which had not worked out.

“I wonder whether the likes of Cameron Jerome and Gary McSheffrey would want to come here at the moment,” said Mr East. “What has depressed me more than anything today is that I expected him to go. We are back to square one and we don't look like a club on the way up.”

Website message boards were buzzing with fans' reactions to the news of Ashton's departure, with some furious and others welcoming the deal which ended so much uncertainty.

“We have a considerable amount of money with which another man could rebuild the team,” wrote Paul Rankin on The Pink 'Un message board. “I want a new man in, no signings 'til the close season and the rebuilding can begin.”

On the same site, Nick Nelson wrote: “Leave the money in the bank, soldier on this season and hope a new man can start again next season.

“What will happen in reality is that Nigel will bring in some more chancers and journeymen on the cheap with probably a name among them to keep us mugs happy. And then he will prattle on about him being a player we have admired for some time.”

But others remained optimistic. “If we choose to, we can attempt to acquire another young, talented striker for similar money that we paid for Ashton, except this time it is paid in total from business transfer profits rather than debt,” posted Yankee Canary.

“In my opinion, Delia and the board are doing the business and the club is positioning itself to building in the right way for the future.”