Worthington's 'f-words'

PUBLISHED: 16:22 16 September 2006 | UPDATED: 09:39 14 September 2010

The beauty of post-match Press conferences is the element of surprise. You never quite know what's going to come out - either in terms of questions or answers.

The beauty of post-match Press conferences is the element of surprise. You never quite know what's going to come out - either in terms of questions or answers.

By the very nature of the game, there is a fair chance one manager is going to be in a good mood and the other one isn't.

The unhappy manager is more likely to produce the most entertaining quotes and drop in the odd colloquialism, or something worse, and the risk factor is that much greater if the inquest or interview is being recorded, or - better still, depending on your point of view - broadcast live.

City boss Nigel Worthington may have taken a few listeners by surprise when he was interviewed for BBC Radio Norfolk after Tuesday's 3-3 draw at Southend and accused his players of having a “flick, fart and a fanny” in the second half after what looked like a comfortable three points became a less than satisfactory one.

But there was nothing particularly shocking in the phraseology as he intended it, otherwise interviewer Chris Goreham would not have repeated the phrase in a later question.

It was just Worthington's way of saying that his players had been faffing around - there's another inoffensive F-word - when they should have been what managers call “killing the game”.

One had half expected such a tirade after last Saturday's defeat at Coventry, a game in which City produced a performance much inferior to that at Southend, but Worthington was in a fairly forgiving mood.

He entered the “media theatre” at the Ricoh Arena and sat on the platform to be greeted by funereal silence from the assembled reporters.

“Wasn't that bad, was it?” he joked, before admitting that his players hadn't passed the ball well and their defending had been “average” for the three goals, but that Darren Huckerby had insisted on playing in spite of a groin injury and Dickson Etuhu had done likewise despite feeling unwell in the build-up to the game.

There was no rant. Worthington would treat it as a “blip” and hope his players could put things right on Tuesday.

For more than an hour at Roots Hall, they did just that. Despite going a goal down in less than 12 minutes - and what a signing Freddy Eastwood would be on that evidence - City rediscovered the slick passing and attacking verve of their bright start to the season and three goals in 12 minutes appeared to make the game safe.

However, it was far from over and in the last half-hour Worthington was like a man with a wasp down his trousers, yelling furiously and waving at his arms at his players but no more able to get his instructions across than if he had been stuck in a soundproof booth. Presumably the two late substitutes - and forgive me for returning to the point - went out with some kind of message, but to no avail. Southend's equaliser looked inevitable from the moment they cut the gap to 3-2.

Worthington's post-match verdict summed up that sense of frustration and, 36 hours later, he was not about to backtrack.

“The anger doesn't subside at all because it's an honest reaction to a straightforward situation. We've tossed two points away,” he said on Thursday morning, clearly more angry over taking just a point from a generally good performance than over coming home with nothing after a pretty dismal one.

It's not uncommon for Worthington to play down excellent performances, such as the Barnsley home game, while at the same time defending his players when one might expect him to give them a roasting.

Of course, the reaction of certain managers after a game is very predictable.

Has Neil Warnock ever taken defeat gracefully? Has Arsene Wenger ever seen a foul committed by one of his players? Did Sven-Goran Eriksson's demeanour ever change from memorable victory to humbling defeat, or was that glazed expression a telltale sign that 50 per cent of his mind was otherwise occupied, mentally totting up the money he was making out of the FA?

In my previous incarnation as Norwich City scribe, many of the current managers were still playing, Worthington included, and every other team seemed to be managed by a Scot, whereas I can think of only two Scots currently in charge in the Premiership.

No disrespects, but the Tartan team bosses also seemed to be the most prickly and, at times, morose - Ferguson, Graham, Dalglish, Souness, McNeill and Porterfield.

Dalglish could make the Punch and Judy man from Hi de Hi look like Ken Dodd by comparison, and any question he didn't appreciate was treated with withering contempt.

After a game at Carrow Road, he was once asked about his reported interest in a certain player.

He replied: “I've heard Princess Anne's getting divorced. Do you want me to comment on that, too?”

The Canaries haven't had a decent Cup run since Baldrick last changed his trousers, but let's hope Tuesday's Carling Cup trip to Millmoor isn't a cause for trepidation.

City haven't reached the last eight of either of the major domestic knockout competitions for 11 seasons, an appalling record.

A decade of joke League Cup exits at the hands of teams such as Barnet, Brentford, Cheltenham and Northampton has seen to that.

But having seen off Basil Fawlty's Torquay, City can surely make it a miserable night for Rotherham's most famous fans, the Chuckle Brothers. After the last two away performances, there can be “no slacking” this time.

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