Worthy: 'I'll be fine'

CHRIS WISE Nigel Worthington vowed to stand tall yesterday as he faced the media for the first time since he was given what amounted to a two-match deadline to save his job.


Nigel Worthington vowed to stand tall yesterday as he faced the media for the first time since he was given what amounted to a two-match deadline to save his job.

The Norwich City manager refused point blank to discuss the terse statement from majority shareholders Delia Smith and Michael Wynn Jones which followed last Saturday's 3-1 defeat at Plymouth, saying only: “I don't wish to comment on that.”

But he made it clear that he wouldn't be letting it affect him ahead of Sunday's home clash against Burnley, which is being viewed as a must-win game in most quarters, even though he has, in theory, another fixture after that to put things right.

Choosing his words carefully, Worthington said he would be doing all he could to deflect any pressure away from his players - and vowed to take any criticism on the chin, be it from the club owners or the fans who are planning protests before and after the big game.

“I'll be fine,” he said. “It's part and parcel of football. I will be at the front. I won't be deflecting the situation on to anyone else. I'll take the pressure off the players to make sure they perform.

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“I have not got any queries or qualms about the situation at all. I am fully focussed on the job and my most important situation is to protect the players and get them to go and perform to the best of their ability against Burnley.

“What I want to see on Sunday is the competitiveness we always show in training - and also showed during the first month of the season.

“All I will be saying to the players is go and play for yourselves. Go and perform, go and enjoy the game, and make sure you play well. Thereafter the result will look after itself.”

As for the fans' protests he added: “I can't do anything about that. All I can do is focus on the performance and hopefully the players will go and perform for themselves and get a good result. As I said I'll protect the players as much as I can, it's all part of the job.”

Worthington knows the heat has been turned up after the defeat at Plymouth, which left his side in 14th place in the table with just 11 points from nine games. But he insists he will be treating the Burnley fixture like any other match.

“It's no different to any other game - you want to go out and win every single one of them,” he commented. “We'll be doing exactly that. We will be focusing on winning the game and making a big improvement on last week.

“It will be physical, rough and ready and we have got to go and match Burnley on that - and then go and play. We have got to do the ugly side first.”

Worthington was happier commenting on the other big talking point at Carrow Road this week, the training ground spat between Dickson Etuhu and Youssef Safri that preceded the Plymouth debacle. Having been involved in such incidents himself in the past the City boss insisted it was nothing to get too excited about - and said it was now history as far as everyone at Colney was concerned.

“Again it's part and parcel of football,” he said. “I have seen it many times and I have been involved in it a few times myself. When you have a small group of people in a close knit scenario on a daily basis for nine, ten months a year these spats are going to happen.

“In training a player can arrive late and there will be a little barney. It is no different to what you sometimes see in a real game. The way we train the sessions are very competitive.

“It finished up as handbags to be fair. It didn't take anything away from what we are trying to do.

“They played together last Saturday - so it won't be a problem. They have had a clout at each other, it's happened and now they have got to get on with it.

“You wouldn't want it happening every other week but every now and then I think it is good - it releases all that built-up tension.”