Football / FA Cup: Deehan stakes his claim for centre stage

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The Independent Online
Wycombe Wanderers. . . . . 0

Norwich City. . . . . . . .2

THE FA CUP upset the Norwich players were dreading came even before they left for Adams Park, when Mike Walker upped sticks and moved in at Everton. Once the blow had been absorbed, there followed a hardened resolve to ruin the giant- killing script.

Walker would have been proud of this performance in adversity and, as an opening statement on John Deehan's application to succeed him, it was no bad thing. Walker's team - for these were the players he selected and the system he patented - comfortably held the League's first-formers at arms' length during their initial excitement and, after Bryan Gunn's breathtaking save to deny them an equaliser, began to exude an assurance that grew ever more powerful.

The party-pooper, inevitably, was Chris Sutton, whose unerring ability to find unguarded corners of the goal was in marked contrast to some of his colleagues, who ought to have painted the scoreline a more pronounced shade of yellow and green, though the excellence of the home goalkeeper has to be recognised.

The brace of goals that beat Paul Hyde hoisted Sutton's tally to nine in 10 games, and weighed down his pockets by another pounds 1,000 in bonus payments. The produce-and-prosper financial creed was not to Walker's liking when he was looking for security in contract and salary terms, but it certainly finds favour with the 20-year-old centre-forward, who recently agreed a new three- and-a-half-year deal.

Sutton says he is 'very, very happy' and adds that there is no reason why Norwich's success should not continue. He will loom large in Walker's plan for change at Goodison, but for Norwich to contemplate losing any of the team who travelled so well in European fields last autumn would be to risk alienating their supporters.

Upset by Walker's defection, they are anxious to see the direction that their team will now follow. The first indications were healthy, and the players put their weight behind Deehan. The Norwich chairman, Robert Chase, will discuss the vacancy with him tomorrow, while there is a counter claim from Terry Yorath, the former manager of Wales, who is keen to return to club management and will also speak to Chase.

Certainly, Deehan was making all the right noises, even declaring less than total loyalty to the recently departed. 'Mike had a particularly successful 18 months, but I don't know if he's the best manager Norwich have ever had,' he said. 'Don't forget, under Ken Brown they won the Milk Cup and qualified for Europe, which sadly was denied them.'

Asked if there was a possibility he might follow Walker to Goodison, Deehan added: 'It was never mentioned to me, even though he had plenty of opportunity to do so. If it came I would turn it down, because I want the job here and I will stay even if I don't get it. The players feel the same - not one wants to leave and not many clubs can say that.'

Goals: Sutton (38) 0-1; Sutton (87) 0-2.

Wycombe Wanderers (4-4-2): Hyde; Cousins, Evans, Crossley, Stapleton; Carroll, Ryan, Thompson, Guppy; Hodges (Langford, 59), Hemmings (Horton, 77). Substitute not used: Moussaddik (gk).

Norwich City (1-3-4-2): Gunn; Culverhouse, Newman, Butterworth, Woodthorpe; Fox, Megson (Smith, 89), Crook, Bowen; Ekoku (Ullathorne, 67), Sutton. Substitute not used: Howie (gk).

Referee: P Vanes (Warley).

(Photograph omitted)