My worst defeat? When Norwich went to Blackburn and Shearer ran me ragged
WE HAD a strange mentality at Norwich in 1992-93. We didn’t let defeats bother us, and that is probably why we were able to finish third in the Premier League with a goal difference of minus four.
We were top of the table when we rocked up at Blackburn in October. I was only 19 years old and my manager Mike Walker was using me as a central defender, instead of centre forward. I remember I was carded for rugby tackling Alan Shearer as he charged through on goal — a ‘professional foul’ you might call it. When I was only shown a yellow, I thought ‘phew’, but then Gordon Cowans scored the free-kick en route to a 7-1 hammering. My defensive partner was Ian Butterworth, who was 28 and my captain. I still remember him speaking to the press afterwards, telling them that I needed to keep my head up, as if I was to blame. I thought, ‘You b****r!’ Norwich were good to watch back then. It was never a dull day out, that’s for sure. We lost 7-1 to Blackburn, 4-1 to Liverpool, 5-1 to Tottenham that season. Of course Walker wasn’t happy when we were beaten like that. He would give us a good talking-to. But we were never sidetracked. We were already punching above our weight, in a surprise title race with Manchester United and Aston Villa. It wasn’t that we occasionally downed tools. We just had an open brand of football. When it worked, it was a joy. When it went wrong, oh boy did it. After the 7-1 defeat by Blackburn, our next game was against Carlisle in the League Cup. The bookmakers had me at 20-1 to score first because they thought I would be in defence again. But I started up front and scored twice in a 2-0 win. Not a bad way to bounce back, that, and I’m sure Erik ten Hag will be ordering his Manchester United morons to take out their frustrations on Real Betis on Thursday.