Fitting end to club's fiasco

In the end, it was inevitable. There was no way Nigel Worthington could have remained in his job after last weekend's 4-1 defeat at home to Burnley.

In the end, it was inevitable. There was no way Nigel Worthington could have remained in his job after last weekend's 4-1 defeat at home to Burnley.

The team - with a couple of notable exceptions - looked disinterested and far from wanting to fight to the death for their struggling manager.

But what a shambles the past few days and weeks have been, topped off with Delia's and Michael Wynn Jones's statement ahead of the Burnley game that led to unnecessary confusion and pressure on all concerned.

And that was just the latest in a catalogue of problems that have engulfed Carrow Road over the past year.


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THE MANAGER

Worthington has left the club with good grace, and the way he has handled things publicly this week would seem to back up what people who know him often say about him - he is a decent guy.

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He also deserves credit for having such a long stint in the job and for winning promotion in 2004 - although the likes of Wigan, West Ham and Reading have since shown us that perhaps our attitude of “Isn't it nice just to be in the Premiership?” was far too defeatist.

Losing your job is never nice, whatever that job might be, and this week won't have been easy for Worthington.

But don't feel too sorry for him - after all, he has been quick in the past to go to the board and demand a better contract when things have been going well.

And he's not been reluctant to tell others that their time is up - most recently, of course, in the case of Steve Foley.

The bottom line is that the players he has signed over the past couple of years have too often not been good enough.

And too often the fans have been forced to watch one-dimensional long-ball football, despite protests that passing football was what Worthington wanted.

Unfortunately, despite all the mutual back-slapping that has gone on this week (the board thanking Worthington, Worthington thanking the board, the players wanting to win promotion for their old boss . . .), what will always taint the Worthington era for me was last year's end-of-season dig at the vast majority of fans who didn't stay behind for the (unfortunately-named) lap of honour.

The suggestion that only the minority who remained in the ground were the “true” fans was a cheap shot, and I know I'm not the only one who has not forgotten that comment. And no, it's not sour grapes. I was one of those who did stay behind in the stadium.

By the way, can the board that has sacked Worthington also now be struck off his list of “true” fans?

THE BOARD

We are very lucky to have a board that is so open with the fans, regardless of whether or not we agree with the direction the club is taking.

How many chief executives, for example, freely give fans their telephone numbers and e-mail addresses?

But the statement put out after the Plymouth defeat was - as I said last week - a fiasco. The board should have either backed the manager or sacked him. Instead, they did neither.

It led to the fans at Carrow Road last weekend smelling blood, firm in the belief that they were pushing at an open door in their bid to oust the manager.

All that the statement managed to do was hasten Worthington's demise. If that was the plan, the board could have just sacked him. And if that wasn't the plan, why bother with it?

More importantly, why wasn't action taken sooner? Speaking this week, Wynn Jones said the statement had been “a definite result of being at Plymouth and talking to fans afterwards, sharing their disappointment”.

He added: “I just felt it absolutely had to be said at that point . . . It was as much a statement by fans as it was by board members.”

So what on earth did they think about last season's catalogue of shambolic performances? Why didn't something “absolutely have to be said” after the rubbish served up at Luton, Watford, Wolves etc, or after last year's home defeats by the likes of Sheffield Wednesday and Preston?

Why weren't they joining the fans calling for a change last winter and spring - or, at the very least, during the close season?

It must be hard trying to reconcile being a director/owner with being a fan, but they can't have it both ways.

Things have been grim at Carrow Road for months, but all that the supporters were told last season were things like “Stability is key”, “Worthington's the best man the job” and “It's only a minority of fans who want a new manager”.

Suddenly, 12 months later, we have the joint owners deciding that action is finally needed even though most of their fellow fans have been unhappy for some time.

Although we are only a few points off the top positions and it's crucial that we spend a bit of time making sure we get the right man in as manager, let's hope we haven't left things too late by not taking action sooner.

It would be particularly galling if we narrowly miss out on promotion or the play-offs given that we could have sorted all this out some months ago.

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