Skipper: Worthy would have to walk

PUBLISHED: 07:30 01 March 2006 | UPDATED: 09:14 14 September 2010

CHRIS LAKEY

Nigel Worthington will remain as Norwich City manager - unless he walks out on the job.

Canaries director Barry Skipper insisted yesterday that the board of directors would stick to their guns and keep faith with the manager, even though the strength of feeling against the man in the hot-seat is growing again after Saturday's 4-1 humiliation at Crystal Palace.

BBC Norfolk

Nigel Worthington will remain as Norwich City manager - unless he walks out on the job.

Canaries director Barry Skipper insisted yesterday that the board of directors would stick to their guns and keep faith with the manager, even though the strength of feeling against the man in the hot-seat is growing again after Saturday's 4-1 humiliation at Crystal Palace.

The City board have always been unflinching in their support of Worthington but, perhaps tellingly, when Skipper was asked if the same management team would be in place at the start of next season, he said: “Well, I can't chain them to the gates.

“If they decide they've had enough and walk away, then they've had enough. As far as the board's concerned at this moment in time, we don't see the necessity for change and we don't see that as being particularly relevant to the difficulties we've got at the moment.

“A lot of people will disagree with us but at the end of the day you sit in the hot seat, and it goes with the territory and you have to come to the conclusions. And that's the conclusion we've come to, but a week's a long time in politics - it's almost longer in football - so who's to say?

“But I would not expect to see drastic change to our football management team between now and the start of the season.”

Skipper's comments came during an interview with BBC Radio Norfolk's Chris Goreham yesterday, when he also said:

t Fans should leave their protests until the end of the season

t Protests are making it “uncomfortable” for families on match days

t New faces on the playing side will bed in next season

Skipper's comments were met with an inevitable reaction on supporters' message boards yesterday and look likely to ensure that the depth of feeling will have reached fever pitch by the time of a public meeting, called by Norwich City Independent Supporters' Association, on Thursday.

Having endured a miserable season, City followers appear to be close to breaking point again, with protests inevitable at this weekend's home game against Stoke City.

But those protests, according to Skipper, are best left to the end of the season.

Commenting on Thursday's meeting he said: “I haven't decided whether to be there or not. If I was I wouldn't want to say anything, I think it would be a listening process.

“I'm sure you and others in the media will report it quite faithfully whether I go or whether I don't. Worried? Well I just think it's everybody's right to hold whatever they want to and express whatever view they want to.”

However, he added: “Football is a passionate business and emotions run pretty high. I just hope it doesn't get sort of abusive and I must say I find all this stomping round the streets and placards and standing outside the ground … I'm not sure what that achieves except making that an uncomfortable place for people to come with their families.”

Canaries fans who saw their team promoted as First Division champions in 2004 are wondering what has gone so terribly wrong after a year in the top flight.

“Of course they do, but as everybody's said before there's a very thin line between success and failure,” said Skipper. “If Fowler hadn't scored in the last minute for Manchester City last year at Carrow Road we'd still be in the Premiership, and so on, and so on.

“No excuses, but they are just examples of how the game can swing one way or the other and, yes, we can't pretend it isn't disappointing this year, and, yes, we'd like to put it right.”

Skipper pointed out that drastic changes would have to be made should City not make it back into the Premiership by the time the parachute payments finish at the end of next season.

“That's why I am passionately hoping that people will get behind us at the moment and let's leave all the bother, if we've got to have bother, till we get to the close season,” he said.

It's been a decade since City fans met at an organised meeting to air their feelings- the last time was in the miserable days of 1996 when the then chairman, Robert Chase, presided over the last days of a regime which had left the club facing financial ruin.

However, today's problems are generally to do with performances and results on the pitch, rather than in the corridors of power at Carrow Road -and Skipper says today's concerns bear no comparison to those of fans 10 years ago.

“The last time there was a meeting at St Andrews Hall was when the club was about to go bankrupt in 1996 and banks were selling players for us and that was a real crisis for the community and for the city,” Skipper said.

“But for the life of me I can't see that today's problems - and I'm the first to admit we are having a difficult season - I just don't see how they compare. So much of the rest of things that go on in football in terms of financial stability, looking forward, the way that all short-term debt is now managed over a period of time - I just don't see how the two events compare and that's quite disappointing.”

BBC Norfolk

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