Worthy so sad to miss out again
Nigel Worthington could not hide his acute disappointment at missing out on one of his top transfer targets at the weekend - after Luton Town striker Steve Howard made a £1million switch to Coca-Cola Championship rivals Derby County.
Norwich City manager Nigel Worthington could not hide his acute disappointment at missing out on one of his top transfer targets at the weekend - after Luton Town striker Steve Howard made a £1million switch to Coca-Cola Championship rivals Derby County.
News of 30-year-old Howard's move to the Midlands cast a shadow over the final day of the Canaries' trip to Scotland, where their 100 per cent pre-season record was halted by a 1-1 draw at Falkirk.
Worthington has yet to make his first new signing of the summer - 12 weeks after the end of last season and less than a fortnight away from the opening Coca-Cola Championship fixture at Leeds on August 5.
And he admitted that City's own offer for Howard had fallen way short of the eventual price paid by new Rams boss Billy Davies for the former Hartlepool man, his first signing since arriving at Pride Park.
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“I'm hugely disappointed with that because there was a lot of time and effort spent trying to make that one happen,” said Worthington.
“I lost target number one in Rob Hulse. We've now lost Howard. People say what's plan C? It depends how far down the leagues we go and exactly what quality we want to bring in, so we'll have a look, but one thing I will say is if it's not right to help us and take us forward, then I won't do it.”
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Both City chairman Roger Munby and chief executive Neil Doncaster have publicly reassured supporters that new signings will be made, but while maintaining a diplomatic stance in public, Worthington clearly feels he lacks the financial muscle to get the players he really wants.
Asked whether City were close to matching the eventual price for Howard, he said: “The deal that finished up? No.”
But as to whether he feared he was running out of time to bring in new faces with the Championship season a fortnight away, he added: “I'm not worried at all. What I mean by that is that we're trying for players and we're not getting them through the finances. So if that's the case then I and the staff will work with the players that we've got, make sure we get the best out of them and do the best we can.”
At least City preserved their unbeaten pre-season record on Saturday - though it took a big deflection from a Robert Earnshaw free-kick two minutes before half-time to earn them a draw after Pedro Moutinho's 32nd-minute opener for Falkirk.
“Robert's got his goalscoring boots on at the moment and long may that continue,” said Worthington of the Wales international, who scored both goals in the Canaries' 2-0 win at Livingston four days earlier.
“I think we had three or four very good chances, we had better chances than Falkirk over the course of the game. Falkirk had a lot of possession through the shape they played, with the diamond, but they didn't really cause us a lot of problems.
“One of the things for us to brush up on would be the finishing, which needs to be better and we'll do a lot of that in the next fortnight.
“The overall shape seemed compact and we'll keep working at that. The passing was a little bit loose.
“There were a lot of things we could have done better, but I'm giving the players the benefit of the doubt today because we had a heavy session on Friday afternoon and there were some feeling a little bit leggy.
“That was more like the game we're going to get in the Championship and that's what we've got to plan for in two weeks' time.”
Midfielder Andy Hughes, who suffered a groin strain in training on Friday, joined Rossi Jarvis and Patrick Bexfield on the sidelines at Falkirk, where City were watched by more than 200 travelling fans.
Worthington said he was close to settling on his first-choice line-up for the opening game, barring any new arrivals.
He said: “Give or take a couple of places, we're getting there. There are one or two places still up for grabs.
“It's been an excellent week. We've got through a lot of hard work. Being together has been a good exercise. We've had two away games against good opposition and we've not lost a game, which is always pleasing.”