Worthy’s new role is timed to perfection

It's a newspaper columnist's dream. You get to the end of the season, you're bobbing around in mid-table (not that I'm complaining about that, because for so long it looked as though it could all turn out far, far worse) and there's not much left to play for apart from pride.

It's a newspaper columnist's dream. You get to the end of the season, you're bobbing around in mid-table (not that I'm complaining about that, because for so long it looked as though it could all turn out far, far worse) and there's not much left to play for apart from pride.

Yet you've still got to find enough inspiration to churn out another month's-worth of Fan's Eye columns.

And then Milan Mandaric goes and appoints Nigel Worthington as Leicester manager on the eve of our trip to the Walkers Stadium. Suddenly, our last five games include a match against our former manager, the local derby and a home game against the ever-popular George Burley's current team. There could yet be a bit of passion as this sorry season peters out!

I expect Worthington will get a good reception from the Norwich fans this afternoon. I certainly hope so.


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I don't buy the idea expressed by some at the time of his dismissal last October that he was one of our all-time greatest managers, but equally he was by no means our worst.

He took us up into the Premiership and brought us back down again. He inherited a poor team, built it into something special and then went and let things fall apart again.

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But while it would be misleading to look back at the Worthington era without factoring in the shambles that was the last 18 months, we must not forget that he did give us a day out in Cardiff in 2002, a glorious promotion season, victories over Manchester United and Newcastle in the Premiership, and Darren Huckerby.

Those highlights won't be enough for some - and understandably so. But take those highlights out of the equation and we've had diddly squat to celebrate ever since Martin O'Neill walked out on us in 1995 to join, er, Leicester.

So we do have reason to be grateful for Worthington's time at Norwich, even if it did end somewhat acrimoniously.

Leicester's roll of honour today includes Andy Johnson and Darren Kenton - two players who had decent enough careers at Norwich but who never quite hit the heights that they were capable of reaching.

Elvis Hammond is also at the Crisp Bowl, but his City career was so brief as to be almost non-existent.

But there is a fourth player with Norwich connections who is currently at Leicester, albeit on loan from Preston - a certain Jason Jarrett. And that, for me, is the icing on the cake in terms of irony surrounding today's game.

It was strange enough that Worthington should get the Leicester job just before our visit today. But it's even weirder that his new charges include Jarrett - a character who summed up much of what was wrong with the last season and a half of Worthington's time at Carrow Road.

Jarrett was one of a multitude of bad signings made in the aftermath of relegation in 2005. Some are still with us today, but Jarrett wasn't even good enough to make his mark in that awful class of 2005-06.

He was in the Leicester team that lost 3-0 at Plymouth on Easter Monday, but we'll have to wait and see whether he starts today. Somehow, I doubt either Worthington or Jarrett are too thrilled at being reunited, but perhaps it'll be a case of beggars not being choosers and they'll be united by a desire to make their marks - Jarrett looking for a move from Preston and Worthington wanting to secure his place as the Foxes' full-time manager.

Since news of Worthington's appointment alongside that of Doug Livermore, there have been various rumours doing the rounds that Mandaric only wants a caretaker to the end of the season, and that the new management team will then be kicked out and replaced with someone else.

However, if Worthington gets a couple of decent results between now and the end of the season, I'd expect him to get the job full-time.

He has been linked with a number of posts since leaving Carrow Road, and it would be strange if he had finally taken the major decision to go back into management without having received at least some assurance from Mandaric about his future prospects.

I'm looking forward to an outbreak of “Worthy, Worthy what's the score?” from the travelling fans this afternoon once we go two or three goals up.

But once today is over, I hope Worthington does okay at Leicester and ends up getting the job full-time.

Welcome back, Nigel.

t Talking of Milan Mandaric, I've never quite worked out why he left Portsmouth for Leicester, having been at the helm as Pompey went from Championship also-rans to Premiership heavyweights.

I suppose he might have felt that he had taken them as far as he could, or perhaps he saw the smart and fairly new ground at Leicester and thought the potential at the Walkers Stadium was greater than the potential on the south coast.

Or it might simply have been because he'd had enough of that irritating fan who annoys the hell out of everyone with his trumpet and bell at every match.

I mentioned him a few weeks ago, and I'm grateful to Neil Hunter, from Old Buckenham, who has sent me a cutting from the Petersfield Post all about this chap, who is apparently called John Westwood.

Actually, his official full name is John Anthony Portsmouth Football Club Westwood - and that just about sums him up, I reckon.

He's clearly a diehard fan, and the last thing I want to do is criticise anyone for showing such obvious passion for his team. We, after all, have our very own Canary Fairy.

But Westwood - who comes complete with trademark hat and wig - is surely the barmiest of the lot. And it wouldn't surprise me if Mandaric had finally decided that enough was enough and had headed up north for some peace and quiet.

t DEFEAT HIGHLIGHTS JUST WHAT IS WRONG WITH CITY

Our rollercoaster season kept going last weekend. No sooner had Peter Grant finished showering all sorts of superlatives on his team following our victory at Hull on Good Friday, he was forced into yet another U-turn following the West Brom defeat on Easter Monday, saying the players just aren't good enough.

It must be hard for Grant to work out what the real Norwich actually is.

He'll soon be as grey as Nigel Worthington, because our consistency this year has been dreadful.

I actually thought that we didn't do too badly against the Baggies, but maybe that's because we've become immune to watching rubbish this season.

But Grant was absolutely right in his post-match analysis of West Brom - they thoroughly deserved their win.

I thought they were the best team we've seen at Carrow Road this year, which is why I'm putting a fiver on them winning the play-offs.

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