Worthy gambles against the odds

I'll bet Peter Grant is glad that game's out of the way then. Imagine if the Canaries had lost to Leicester . . .

I'll bet Peter Grant is glad that game's out of the way then.

Imagine if the Canaries had lost to Leicester - the keep-the-faith brigade and army of green-ink letter writers would have been straight on to Canary Call and the local press respectively to declare: "Well, a win in his first week just goes to show that we should never have let Nigel Worthington leave..."

It's a brave gamble by the former Norwich manager, that's for sure, because with the four games Leicester have got left - Birmingham at home, Preston and Barnsley away and then the visit of Wolves on the last day - you can quite easily see their winless run being extended to 13 games on the evidence of Saturday.

And were that to happen, Leicester almost certainly lose their status of one of just 10 clubs never to play outside the top two divisions and there's a huge, indelible stain on the Worthington CV.

There was a distinctly underwhelming atmosphere at the Walkers Stadium on Saturday; certainly nothing in the way of a bubbling undercurrent to approach that December Sunday in 1995 at the time of the last managerial move from Norwich to Leicester.

There was no great fanfare to greet the new appointment, or reaction from the home fans, other than a chant of: "Wortho, give us a wave." (Though they did give a very loud and warm reaction to the inclusion of Dion Dublin's name in the Norwich line-up when it was read by the stadium announcer. In contrast, the reception given to Jason Jarrett and Darren Kenton from the City supporters was merely loud.) And other than the noise made by a large travelling support, pressure litle in the way of atmosphere was created in a quarter-empty ground even after the home side's dream start.

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Leicester look a side on the slide, poor at the back and devoid of any confidence as soon as the Canaries drew level.

It frankly doesn't reflect at all well on Norwich that there were just six points between the teams going into Saturday's match because even in their present depleted state the Canaries were still in a different league to their hosts. Had City been playing a better side, they might have been under far greater pressure had they fallen behind so early on. But other than one moment when Iain Hume went for goal himself rather than square the ball for Shaun Newton to finish off, there were precious few moments of first-half danger for the visiting defence.

At half-time you felt certain the Canaries could get something out of the game. It wasn't that they'd been particularly bad, but a combination of conceding a goal and losing a player inside the first two minutes appeared to have totally knocked them out of their stride.

When they came out for the second half they looked an awful lot more focused and frankly it was only a matter of time before they drew level. Even a quite appalling non-penalty award - and if it wasn't a penalty presumably Darren Huckerby should have been booked for diving - didn't distract them.

Given the level of expecation that must have been on Robert Earnshaw, it's hard to recall a more confidently despatched Norwich penalty. And as soon as that went in you could just see the Canaries' determination to win visibly soar. Yes, they might have needed a crucial late Tony Warner save to deny the Foxes an equaliser, but it was one of those days when City would have promptly gone up the field to make it 3-2 had they been pegged back.

In the last seven weeks City have now won away to Luton, Barnsley, Hull and Leicester, and only the first of these wasn't that convincing and involved the most work. Exceptional as the displays and wins at Birmingham and West Bromwich - and given the charmed life our goal enjoyed at The Hawthorns you can't really complain about Easter Monday's defeat - might have been, it's highly frustrating that City's capable-enough squad can't record similar away victories over the sides above them in the table compared to their recent quartet of lowly scalps.

Although, that said, I'd be happy to sacrifice further points against strugglers at Burnley tomorrow if that's what it takes to beat Ipswich because a third no-show in a row against them doesn't bear thinking about.

Norwich's approach to both recent meetings was frankly pathetic, and it was downright embarrassing that they allowed themselves to be undone by a novice like Danny Haynes. Twice.

Being doubled by Ipswich would be a final kick in the teeth for City's long-suffering and mystifyingly-loyal fans. Over to you, lads.



The things you learn from reading the programme... Communications are a vital part of footbal management - witness Nigel Worthington noting: "I was at home on Tuesday when the telephone rang, which is not uncommon having been involved within the game for over 25 years."

Or that Elvis Hammond's favourite breakfast is frosted shreddies - "Very, very nice."

In contrast, Jason Jarrett enjoys a main course of breast of guinea fowl, confit of leg, and fondant potato with wild mushroom jus in a feature in the stadium restaurant, before declaring: "I love to get forward and I think I've got goals in me. I had a difficult time of it at Carrow Road and didn't play many games."

You can only presume the interview took place before a certain appointment at Leicester last week - he must have lost his appetite completely after hearing about that. He certainly made more of a meal of the chances that came his way on Saturday than the cuisine at the Walkers Stadium, that's for sure.