I DON’T WANT THE CANARIES JOB – IRVINE
CARETAKER Alan Irvine insists he has not set his sights on the Norwich job full-time after drawing with Blackburn Rovers.
Alex Neil was sacked on Friday afternoon but less than 24 hours later Norwich had a strong foothold in the game as Cameron Jerome opened the scoring on 19 minutes.
But Mitchell Dijks was sent off shortly after and two second-half Lucas Joao efforts looked set to hand Rovers all three points before Jerome’s late leveller.
And Irvine admits it is loyalty to Neil that means he will not be looking to manage the Canaries on a permanent basis.
“I will not be applying for the job,” Irvine said. “When I was brought in here I made it clear to Alex I was not a threat, as it might have looked with my age and experience.
“I can’t say that to him and then say I want his job when he leaves, because that wouldn’t be right.
“If Norwich want me to stay in some capacity going forward I would certainly be interested in that, because it's a great club, but not as manager.“My thoughts at the moment are for Alex. I have thoroughly enjoyed working with him and have never regretted moving 250 miles from home to come here. He is a talented young manager and I am sure you will see him back in the game soon.”
Norwich put in a solid shift after being placed firmly on the back foot by defender Dijks. The on-loan Ajax star went over the ball and caught fellow Dutchman Marvin Emnes on the shin in the 21st minute and received a straight red card.
Careless rather than malicious it might have been, but it was a crazy tackle given that the Canaries had only just taken the lead through Jerome’s 12th goal of the season, a close-range effort after goalkeeper Jason Steele had spilt a Josh Murphy cross.
To counter the dismissal Irvine took off popular midfielder Alex Pritchard to get replacement left-back Steven Whittaker onto the pitch.
A deafening chant of ‘you don’t know what you’re doing’ erupted, followed by ‘sack the board’ later on.
But Norwich continued to press and after half-time, raiding right-back Ivo Pinto’s thumping drive from a tight angle came back off an upright.
The scene was then set for another Portuguese import to take centre stage. Rangey frontman Joao had already seen one effort come back off the Norwich woodwork when he got his side back on level terms on 73 minutes with a close-range finish after being set up by fellow substitute Connor Mahoney.
He then quickly added a second, out-jumping Ryan Bennett at the back post to head Danny Graham’s beautiful rightwing cross past Michael McGovern.
But Rovers were unable to see the game out and dropped back into the bottom three as substitute Jacob Murphy squared for Jerome to sidefoot home via a slight deflection on 81 minutes.
Rovers boss Tony Mowbray said: “I am extremely disappointed to only come away with a point, considering we had a man advantage for 70 minutes and then managed to get our noses in front.
“Once we got our second we should have seen out the game but we were unable to do that and it is undoubtedly two points dropped. But going forward there are lots of positives.”
DOUBLE TROUBLE: Cameron Jerome celebrates his equaliser and, inset, Blackburn’s Lucas Joao scores his second goal