Lead by example with the honesty

We are sitting pretty in the last 32 of the Carling Cup and it would be churlish to pretend that it's not an achievement that deserves a pat on the back.

We are sitting pretty in the last 32 of the Carling Cup and it would be churlish to pretend that it's not an achievement that deserves a pat on the back.

Torquay and Rotherham might not have been the toughest of tests, but don't forget our recent record against lower-league teams. Look also at the likes of Fulham, Manchester City and Middlesbrough, who were all dumped out of the competition this week by so-called minnows.

And the fact we put out a virtual reserve side at Rotherham made the result even more creditable.

However, that 4-2 win has failed to wipe out memories of last Saturday's defeat at home to Crystal Palace.


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It was a dreadful game - one journalist said to me afterwards that he was mightily relieved he hadn't had to pay to watch it - and it was no surprise when Palace scored at the end.

In the same way that the travelling Norwich fans at Roots Hall 11 days ago just KNEW that Southend were going to get an equaliser, there can't have been many Canaries fans last weekend who were shocked when Shefki Kuqi found the back of the net.

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Palace had had several good chances in the second half, and Paul Gallacher - not for the first time in his few first-team appearances - had kept us in the game.

In contrast, I don't remember us having a shot on target until second-half injury time, and we ended up with what we deserved from the game.

So I was somewhat surprised to hear Nigel Worthington's comments after the match, in which he suggested we had played quite well and the game could have gone either way.

I know football is all about differences of opinion, but we must have been watching different games.

The match I had just sat through was turgid and boring, and the only reason we didn't lose by more goals was that Palace were also pretty dire.

Gary Doherty's post-match comments were more accurate than his manager's.

“You don't like to admit it, but we have not really created as many chances as we usually do at home, so that's disappointing and something we have to work on - creating chances and getting more shots off,” Doherty said.

“You want confidence when you [play at home] and I do always feel like we are going to win when we come here, but they have turned us over today and we have had a terrible week.”

He added: “It has been disastrous, really. The start we had was really encouraging, but the two games at Coventry and Southend were awfully disappointing and it was the final nail in the coffin today.”

Honesty is a trait that Worthington has demanded from his players time and time again, and Doherty was giving us just that.

We've won just three of our first eight league games - and one of our three defeats came at Leeds, who have been so poor that they have just sacked their manager.

So today's match at Plymouth could be crucial. A win would settle the nerves, but another defeat would see the storm clouds begin to gather around Carrow Road once again.

So keep the Carling Cup run going, by all means, but let's get the league form sorted out. And fast.

t SACKING MANAGER CAN HAVE ITS BENEFITS, DELIA

The knives have been out in the Championship this week, with Kevin Blackwell and Bryan Robson both booted out of their clubs.

And with the managerial merry-go-round also involving John Gregory taking over at Queens Park Rangers, the early-season comfort zone looks to be well and truly over. Clubs are taking action.

I'm sure Delia and friends will be watching the situation at Leeds and West Brom with interest. If those teams struggle - and I think Leeds will have a poor season because their problems go way beyond Blackwell - we will no doubt be given the usual spiel that the sacking of managers never works . . . look at what happened when Ipswich got rid of George Burley . . . stability always pays off in the long term . . .

But it is easy to find an example to back up any theory. Of course you can find an instance where a manager has been sacked and the club ended up regretting a decision.

But does that mean Manchester United should never have sacked Ron Atkinson and appointed Alex Ferguson? Or that Leicester should never have replaced Mark McGhee with Martin O'Neill.

And - closer to home - who was it who sacked Mike Walker from Carrow Road?

Given Delia's obvious support and affection for Worthington, it's worth following the chain of events that followed Walker's sacking in 1998.

Because without getting rid of Walker, there would have been no Bruce Rioch, no Bryan Hamilton and, ultimately, no Worthington.

So sacking a manager hasn't always been a bad move, has it, Delia?

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