Canaries called in for extra training
Nigel Worthington revealed he would be calling in his players for extra training this week after watching them turn in another bitterly disappointing away performance.
Norwich City manager Nigel Worthington revealed he would be calling in his players for extra training this week after watching them turn in another bitterly disappointing away performance.
The Canaries have made an annoying habit of failing to deliver the goods in crunch matches this season - and they did it again at Selhurst Park on Saturday as opponents Crystal Palace fed off their ineptitude to coast to a comfortable 4-1 success.
Memories of the embarrassing no-shows at Luton, Queen's Park Rangers, Wolves and Derby came flooding back as City followed two home victories with an embarrassingly lacklustre display in what had been billed as one of their biggest games of the season so far.
A win at the weekend would have kept the Canaries in with a slight chance of making the end of season play-offs, while lifting some of the pressure off the shoulders of the manager ahead of a fans' meeting about his future at St Andrews Hall on Thursday night.
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The stakes could hardly have been higher. But once again Worthington's team failed to rise to the challenge - and as a result they will be missing their usual day off this Wednesday ahead of another huge game for the club.
The City boss was clearly livid with his players at the weekend - and will be expecting a good deal more from them when they play host to mid-table Stoke next weekend.
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“After that performance it will be a case of hard work - and no days off,” he fumed. “We have just got to put this behind us and get back to doing the right things.
“I won't bring them back on Sunday because we are not going to get much out of them the day after they have played a game. But we will be back in on Monday - and then it will be work all the way through.
“We have had a good little run in the last few games but all that has just gone out of the window.
“Palace were bright, they were lively and they worked hard - and what you don't need when you come up against that is a no show.
“It is very frustrating because against Derby I thought we played like the Norwich of old. Today we gave the ball away far too often and we were second best on too many occasions.
“We were less than average, to be fair. We didn't pass the ball, we didn't work hard enough and it was hugely disappointing and frustrating.
“You don't need to tell me how important this game was - I knew that. We have had a lot of good games against Palace in the past and I said before that we would have to be strong both physically and mentally to get a result here. But between Palace doing well and us not turning up it was one-way traffic out there.”
Worthington used his words carefully when asked why he thought his players had produced such a poor performance in a game that had demanded a top quality showing.
“We were too open as a team and that is something we discussed in midweek,” he said. “I wanted us to be compact, tight - but as a team the players didn't carry out their jobs properly today.
“You can take a horse to water - but you can't force it to drink.
“What else went wrong? Well, if you haven't got the ball you can't play football and every time we got it we seemed to give it straight back to them.
“The way our season has been going it has been one step forward and then one back. I don't mind the occasional backward step, but not with a performance like that.
“We have had a few like this away from home this season and it's up to me to try and sort it out and put things right.”
Saturday's defeat left City a massive 14 points behind Palace, who have played one less game, while sixth placed Preston remain nine points clear, with two games in hand, after losing 2-1 at leaders Reading. The Canaries would have to win all of their remaining 10 matches to stand a realistic chance of finishing in the top six now - and while that's extremely unlikely Worthington isn't about to throw in the towel just yet
“It's hugely difficult now, but until it is mathematically impossible you are always in with a chance,” said the City boss when asked if his side now had anything to play for. “The one thing I will say though is that you will never get anywhere with performances like that.”
While fans will now be turning their attention to the meeting called by Norwich City Independent Supporters Association to discuss the “current situation at Carrow Road”, Worthington will be concentrating on preparing a team for Saturday.
With a virtually empty treatment room he has no shortage of options at present and there's a chance he might switch things around against Stoke, with Paul McVeigh and Leon McKenzie both staking a claim for a recall with solid performances from the bench at the weekend.
“Paul has done very well for us when he has come on in recent games and I thought he worked hard today,” said the City boss. “Leon is Leon - he'll always be honest and work hard for you. It will be a case of weighing up the situation between now and Saturday and seeing what is right for us.”
Youssef Safri should be fit by the weekend after hobbling off just before half-time following a painful midfield collision.
“He fell on his hip and it looks like bruising more than anything else,” said Worthington. “We'll just let it settle down over the next couple days and then see what he is like.”