City now need to pick up the pieces

PUBLISHED: 19:30 07 October 2006 | UPDATED: 09:42 14 September 2010

Nigel Worthington's reign as Norwich manager should never have ended in the shambolic way it did on Sunday.

Nigel Worthington's reign as Norwich manager should never have ended in the shambolic way it did on Sunday.

We were treated to a Doherty rugby tackle and seeing two centre forwards with a combined age of 70 while a promising youngster was left on the bench. We saw Darren Huckerby limping through the second half, and an incident involving a player and spectator.

An atmosphere of tension and hate filled the ground. There were more boos than cheers. And it was all played out in front of a national audience. And we lost 4-1 at home.

Which of the players wanted Nigel Worthington to stay? Very few of them by the looks of it and it showed.

Talk about airing your dirty laundry in public. Everything was hung out to dry.

It all started so well six years ago as Worthington persuaded the board to appoint from within. The much needed cutting out of the dead wood of a demoralised squad and a back to basics attitude stabilised the season. Next year, the spending of the first, and unfortunately only, tranche of the ITV Digital cash and a revitalised squad gave the supporters a memorable second season which ended at Cardiff where Norwich lost in the cruellest way possible on penalties.

The next season started as the first one finished, with plenty of goals and Norwich in contention, but by November any momentum we had, had petered out and the only interest left was whether we would finish above Ipswich. We didn't.

At the start of our championship winning season, perhaps we saw the start of some of the transfer problems that were to haunt Worthington. Although we signed Damien Francis in a pre-season steal of a deal from cash strapped Wimbledon and Marc Edworthy, who was snapped up after Reading signed Shaun Goater, Norwich started the season with a worrying lack of firepower up front.

In early September though, Worthington pulled off the transfer coup that he is really remembered for - the signings of Darren Huckerby and Peter Crouch and, backed up by further shrewd acquisitions, Norwich cruised to the title, at times playing some breathtaking football.

I really want to remember Worthington for this season, for winning the first division championship and for getting us to the Premiership, and also for drama of the play-offs, and for stabilising a club that was heading for the third flight of English football.

Unfortunately that won't be the case for me, or for many others.

Those glorious Premiership memories of Dean Ashton scoring that last-minute winner against Newcastle are clouded by seeing poor Gary Holt selected in the centre of midfield and completely out of his depth. The magnificent run towards the end of season when all seemed lost seems to pale into insignificance when compared to our unadventurous and defensive style in the first 30 games of the campaign.

I would like to remember the quality players that Worthington signed such as Ashton, but these memories are soured by seeing a series of Championship journeymen and uninspiring loan players at Carrow Road.

I would like to reminisce about the fantastic atmosphere when the team had played well, but instead memories of the farce of the home win against QPR last year come flooding back. I would like to recall how the team would react to the crowd and raise their game, but I cringe when remembering the booing of hoofball and cheering of short passes in the Brighton game where we undeservedly won 3-0.

Worthington should have been remembered for the good times he brought to Norwich, yet the on the pitch legacy he has bequeathed to his successor is a small, divided and underperforming squad with little or no back-up.

If Worthington had left the Norwich hotseat a year ago, after the debacles at QPR and Luton, and the morgue-like atmospheres that followed in the home matches against Sheffield Wednesday and Cardiff, he could have done so with his managerial reputation intact.

Instead we have had a year of indecision, protests, away day no-shows, instability, divisions between the board and supporters and most importantly of all, the squandering of a large proportion of our second and last year of Premiership parachute payments, much of which was wasted on a series of loan players, none of which was worth the money.

The tough, and correct, decision for Norwich and Worthington to part company should have been made a year ago.

That tough decision was not made. We are now living with the consequence of that.

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