Green for stay
CHRIS LAKEY Robert Green's late acrobatics at Carrow Road on Saturday may well have saved not just the points but also manager Nigel Worthington's job.
By CHRIS LAKEY
Robert Green's late acrobatics at Carrow Road on Saturday may well have saved not just the points but also manager Nigel Worthington's job.
With the disenchanted among the 24,000-plus becoming increasingly agitated as a dour match moved into its final stages, Green somehow managed to keep out a goalbound Sammy Bangoura header and prevent Stoke from taking a 2-1 lead and an unlikely three points.
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But there was more drama to come: the applause had hardly died down when, within a couple of minutes, Jonatan Johansson waltzed through a static Stoke defence to fire home a late winner for the Canaries.
The relief was palpable: Worthington jumped in the air and pumped his fists in the direction of the directors' box, housing the paymasters who have publicly backed him, while Green was joy unconfined in his solo celebration in front of the Barclay Stand.
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It was almost the perfect ending to an afternoon which had started with fans demonstrating outside the ground, calling for the board to end Worthington's five-year reign at the helm after a season which has lurched from one disappointment to another.
That Johansson's goal should also be followed by chants of “Worthy Out” shows the depth of feeling among the supporters, but Green believes the club must stick by their man.
“You don't become a bad manager overnight,” said Green. “You don't become a bad side overnight but over the course of a season when things aren't going well you become under pressure.
“As a manager you do things that you think are right at the time. He'd probably say he's doing the same things as in the previous two years. Yes, we got relegated last year and it was a step into the unknown, but there were a lot of positives to take from the season. But I am sure he feels he is doing the same as he has done since he took over and it hasn't happened so far this season.”
Green insisted that the players did not hear the protests outside the ground, when around 300 people gathered, but said he saw a positive side of their feelings.
“They have a right to do what they did,” he said. “People feel passionately about the club. We are 10th in the league and still getting 24,000 people here - people want to have their say. In some ways it's not the best but in other ways it's great that people feel like this and want to get involved.
“There was apparently a meeting on Thursday where 500 people turned up, I've been told. If you turned up and you had the season we are having and it's disappointing and no one gave a hoot then you start worrying. It's an ironic positive to take out of it that people do care so much.”
However, Green pointed out that since the home defeat by Ipswich on February 5, City's Carrow Road form has been good.
“It's ironic that ever since the noticeable protests outside the ground of more than 10 people we have won three on the bounce, scored seven and conceded one, which was a free kick,” he said. “If they could turn up at away games that would be a great help.”
The pro-Worthington fans will see Saturday's result as “one for the manager”, although Green was quick to play down that attitude.
“It's for everyone, everyone wants to see us win games, I think,” he said. “You are always going out to win games regardless of what the motivation is and today was just another game where we were going to give it our all to win another game.”
The last time Stoke came to Carrow Road Green denied Gerry Taggart, now a member of their coaching staff, with an equally tremendous stop, but Green was just as keen to talk about the one that got away _ Paul Gallagher's free-kick equaliser on 58 minutes.
“You have two reaction saves,” he said. “With their goal it's on me before I knew it. I stuck a hand out and it hits a post and goes in. An inch further forward and it would have been another good save. Then it's another save where you stick a hand out and it comes off and we go up the other end and score. It's pleasing to make the save and it's pleasing that it changes the way the game is going.”
Green had spent plenty of time organising his wall and was convinced he'd done a good job.
“It was a funny one - there were that many people in the wall that I thought there was no chance of him getting through it so I stuck two people on the line because I wouldn't be able to see it,” he explained.
“I thought if it was going in to the corner then they'd be able to save it. It went through the wall and then it went through the corner and it beat Charlie (Simon Charlton). It was sod's law in every case. That's football - and apart from that and the other save I don't think they had a proper chance on goal, so it's pleasing.”