Bruce unhappy with great expectations

Birmingham City 1 - Norwich City 1
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The Independent Football

What do Steve Bruce and Nigel Worthington have in common? Nothing, it would appear, other than being employees of Norwich City Football Club, past or present.

What do Steve Bruce and Nigel Worthington have in common? Nothing, it would appear, other than being employees of Norwich City Football Club, past or present.

One is managing virtually without expectations; the other is in danger of being submerged by them.

While visiting fans applauded Norwich off after they remained bottom but one of the Premiership, Birmingham City - two points and several places better off - retreated to the accompaniment of loud booing.

A club who had spent 16 seasons out of the top flight when Bruce delivered promotion have committed one of football's biggest sins: raising the sights of their supporters.

You can almost hear the collective St Andrew's groan: it's not the failure that hurts, it's all this darned hope.

Bruce went as close as he dared to criticising the hecklers in longing for a renaissance of the underdog spirit that Norwich can draw upon.

After another multi-million pound splurge in the summer, those days are gone although thousands of blue and white flags were given away on Saturday in an effort to recreate the atmosphere from when these clubs met in the First Division play-off final three seasons ago.

Bruce admitted his side were not ready for all the hope and expectation, describing it as a burden. But, at the end of a week in which David Sullivan's words on the abuse of Dwight Yorke caused some internal divisions, Clinton Morrison disagreed with his manager.

Morrison, just back from a cartilage operation, was equally nonplussed about why Birmingham have nosedived from inspiring to mind-numbing, but refused to blame the fans.

Having used his sixth appearance of the campaign to score his first Premiership goal, he said: "We finished 10th last season and if you look at our players compared to theirs, we should have won. The fans have a right to show their frustration. We should not be in this position."

Morrison's curtain-raiser to what seemed an emphatic win was made by Emile Heskey's header against the bar, the duo stretching Norwich's defenders sufficiently to threaten several more goals.

The breathing space did not come, though, and, having scored at home for the first time in five, Birmingham still could not manage a first home Premiership win since August.

With influential first-half forces Darren Anderton, David Dunn and Robbie Savage running out of steam, Norwich deserved the equaliser that Birmingham's errant goalkeeper Maik Taylor helped set up.

Leon McKenzie's arrival as a substitute of significance pushed Darren Huckerby wider and deeper, but the overall effect was an increase in firepower that tested a jittery defence and ended in the latter hitting his fifth goal since promotion.

Goals: Morrison (9) 1-0; Huckerby 63 (1-1).

Birmingham City (4-4-2): Maik Taylor; Melchiot (Gronkjaer, h-t), Cunningham, Upson, Clapham; Johnson, Savage, Anderton, Dunn (Clemence, 75); Heskey, Morrison (Yorke, 78). Substitutes not used: Vaesen (gk), Martin Taylor.

Norwich City (4-4-2): Green; Edworthy, Fleming, Charlton, Drury; Bentley, Holt (Helveg, 56), Mulryne, Brennan (McKenzie, 54); Huckerby, Svensson. Substitutes not used: Ward (gk), Jonson, Doherty.

Referee: G Poll (Hertfordshire).

Booked: Birmingham: Melchiot, Dunn. Norwich: Bentley.

Man of the match: Heskey.

Attendance: 29,120.

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