Award 'one on the chin' for critics

PUBLISHED: 07:00 06 January 2006 | UPDATED: 09:06 14 September 2010

Nigel Worthington's triumph in the latest manager of the month awards has been described as "one on the chin" for his critics. The Norwich City boss received the Coca-Cola Championship accolade for December after a guiding his side to the fringes of the play-off zone, courtesy of five straight victories.

Nigel Worthington's triumph in the latest manager of the month awards has been described as “one on the chin” for his critics.

The Norwich City boss received the Coca-Cola Championship accolade for December after a guiding his side to the fringes of the play-off zone, courtesy of five straight victories.

There were calls for Worthington to resign when the Canaries kicked off the month with a depressing 2-0 defeat at Derby that left them too close to the bottom three for comfort.

But the pre-season favourites for promotion never dropped another point in 2005 after that and the dramatic turnaround in the club's fortunes prompted judges to honour the City boss ahead of Steve Coppell, who led his table-topping Reading side to five wins and a draw over the same period.

First team coach Steve Foley revealed yesterday that no-one at Conley training ground was getting carried away with the award, with the Canaries still having plenty to do if they are to book their place in the end of season shoot-out. But he believes it's a fitting reward for the manner in which his boss stuck doggedly to his task while results weren't going his way.

“I think it is well deserved,” said Foley, part of the well-established management trio that also includes Doug Livermore. “We won five games on the trot in December and you can't argue with that.

“Nigel has proved over the years that he is a very good manager and you don't become a bad one overnight. It did surprise me that some people started calling for him to go when results weren't going our way. Some of the things that were being said were totally out of order, in my opinion, and I guess this award shows he's not such a bad manager after all.

“I'd say it's one on the chin for some of the supporters who wanted him out. What I'd say to fans is wait to see where we finish at the end of the season and judge us then.”

Foley has nothing but admiration for the manner in the City boss coped as he found himself under increasing pressure following the dismal sequence of just two wins in 11 games that preceded the superb December run.

“I know what some people were saying about Nigel, Dougie and me and it does affect you, of course it does. You are only human after all,” he said.

“The one thing I will say about the boss is that he is a very strong character and stood up to the criticism really well.

“You need that to be a manager now because it's such a results-driven business and if you lose a few games on the trot then you are suddenly under pressure, with people calling for your head.

“Nigel is a very honest bloke who is also very good at his job. I've worked with around 17 managers and coaches in my time and I'd say he was up there with the best of them.

“He never hides, he is always prepared to face the music and no matter what happens he just gets on with his job.”

The Canaries failed to carry over their December form into the New Year, with the fifth win on the spin at Leicester being followed by a 3-0 home drubbing at the hands of Preston two days later - and Foley made it clear that no-one at Colney would be resting on their laurels just because the man in charge had received a national award.

“No-one here is getting carried away,” he said. “We had a bad run of results and that wasn't the end of the world. Now we've have had a good run and that doesn't mean we have suddenly turned the corner. It's a very long corner and there is a long way to go yet.

“There was a lot of hype at the beginning of the season, with people saying we would walk this league with Dean Ashton scoring 40 plus goals. But we always knew it would be tough and that is the way it has turned out.

“The aim now is to get into the play-offs - and I'd say that is a realistic target given the way we have been playing in recent weeks.

The Preston defeat was a setback but I'm confident the lads will bounce back from that.”

The man himself was also keeping his feet firmly on the ground as he celebrated his fifth managerial award - he also picked up three during City's 2003-4 promotion season and another one while he was in charge at Blackpool.

Worthington, who is preparing his side for an FA Cup third-round tie against West Ham at Carrow Road tomorrow, said: "I am pleased for everybody at the club and I will pick up the award on their behalf because everybody deserves it for all their hard work.

"We had a great month in December and if we can repeat that over the four months between now and the end of the season, then we will be right in there."

Commenting on the decision to reward Worthington ahead of Coppell, Neil Warnock (Sheffield United) and Iain Dowie (Crystal Palace), panel chairman Chris Kamara commented: “Nigel has been under a fair bit of pressure recently and went into December needing a big month.

“His side certainly didn't let him down, producing five wins from six games, including an outstanding display to inflict a first home defeat of the season on Sheffield United. This winning run has really pushed the Canaries up the table and well in contention in the battle for play-off places.”

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