Throw whichever word you wanted at City boss Chris Hughton after yesterday’s humiliating FA Cup Fourth Round exit at home to non-league town and it would sum his mood as much as the supporters.
Embarrassed, humiliated and hurt were three that BBC Radio Norfolk commentator Chris Goreham offered afterwards; the 26,000 Canary fans who gathered at Carrow Road to watch a slice of history unfold would probably have choicer words for the manager.
“Yep – all of them,” said Hughton, left with the miserable accolade of being the first Premier League manager ever to see his side be knocked out of the FA Cup by non-league opposition courtesy of Scott Rendell’s lone, 80th minute strike.
Those who laughed at Paul Lambert’s cup tribulations at Villa – first against Bradford City and then Millwall – had the sly smiles wiped from their faces as the 4,000 travelling Hatters fans who partied long into the night on the back of such a famous, and deserved, success.
“It wasn’t a good day – and nor will the next couple of days be,” admitted Hughton, well aware of the bitter post-mortems that will, inevitably, follow such a huge fall from Premier League grace.
Not that he was ducking his part in City’s cup downfall as – like all-too many higher flight managers before him – the City chief found himself caught between a Premier League survival rock and a cup hard place team-wise.
“None of us at this football club – and me, as manager, who takes full responsibility – wants this type of defeat,” he said, as Hatters boss Paul Buckle did the proverbial job on their Premier League hosts.
Which Hughton was swift to acknowledge. Norwich got exactly what they deserved for yesterday’s level of performance.
“Credit to Luton; they came here with a game plan –to sit back, frustrate us and make life difficult for us,” he told the BBC afterwards. “But we had good opportunities to win the game.
“And we are the home team; the Premier League team. And irrespective of whatever team I put out today, I expected to win.”
Coming on the back of last weekend’s 5-0 thumping at Anfield when the Canaries slipped right back to their Fulham away day ways, January has not been a great month for anyone at Carrow Road.
The highs of October and November are now a distant memory as City look to claw their way back to form and fortune – kicking off with Wednesday night’s clash with Spurs. They then have another 24 hours to try and appease the supporters increasingly impatient demands for activity on the transfer front.
Once again, Norwich looked lightweight up-front – and horribly over-reliant on club skipper Grant Holt delivering something in front of goal.
For as long a time as his hamstrings allow.
On-loan Spurs youngster Harry Kane lasted just 45 minutes before Hughton felt obliged to throw Holt into the fray – the boy finding it difficult to do a man’s job against a rough and ready Luton back four.
“The game is full of highs and lows,” admitted Hughton, as the Norfolk club continued on their recent downer.
The third round success at Peterborough was the only real highlight of the festive period – even if City were only missing out on a result by the odd goal.
“If you look at our form it’s very much taken a dip,” conceded Hughton. “We’re in a difficult place at the moment and possibly the scoreline is a reflection of that.
“What’s more important is that we come out of it as quick as possible. But at this moment it’s not a particularly nice feeling and you want to get over it as quickly as possible.”
The aim transfer-wise, he insisted, has always been to try and get a fresh face in; to lift the place with a new signing.
“That’s been the aim – but it’s been very difficult and very frustrating,” he said, with Swansea City and Celtic two that are refusing to play ball. Two bids for Bhoys striker Gary Hooper had, he revealed, still not yielded a result. The club have until 11pm on Thursday night to try and make money talk.
“It’s that little bit of freshness that we need. But we’ll keep going and, of course, we’ll keep going right till the end and, hopefully, be successful.”