Hunter: I want the job
DAVID CUFFLEY Martin Hunter moved into the Carrow Road hot seat today - and is hoping to stay there.First team coach Hunter has been appointed Norwich City caretaker manager, to be assisted by Doug Livermore, following the sacking of Nigel Worthington.
Martin Hunter moved into the Carrow Road hot seat today - and is hoping to stay there.
First team coach Hunter has been appointed Norwich City caretaker manager, to be assisted by Doug Livermore, following the sacking of Nigel Worthington.
The 44-year-old Worthington was axed after nearly six years as City boss following yesterday's 4-1 humiliation by Burnley, the Canaries' fourth defeat in five Coca-Cola Championship games, a result that left them 17th in the table.
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And, as chief executive Neil Doncaster revealed that he had “already received a large number of inquiries” about the managerial vacancy, 51-year-old Hunter, who arrived in the summer after giving up an FA post as England Under-19 coach, admitted he would be interested in the job on a permanent basis.
“It's obviously a job I'd like to do,” said Hunter - but he said he would not comment on the post until after club officials had hosted a morning Press conference at the ground, and instead paid tribute to Worthington, who head-hunted him in the close season. He said he was saddened by his exit.
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“Nigel is a very good manager as his track record proves and I have really enjoyed working with him since I arrived,” he said.
As supporters began drawing up their wish list for possible successors to Worthington, Doncaster said: “I have already received a large number of inquiries and expressions of interest for the job.
“The club enjoys a fantastic level of support and the number of season tickets we have is the envy of a number of other clubs in the football league.
“It is important that we now move forward, get the right man in the job and get on with the business of turning this season around.
“I would like to pay tribute to what Nigel achieved, which will, in the fullness of time, be considered as magnificent achievements.
“He is an excellent professional and the dignity has shown in interviews since has not surprised me.
“I think the board did what needed to be done and now it is time for everybody to pull together and look to the future with fresh hope.”
Blackburn assistant boss Mark Bowen, the former City defender, emerged as the bookies' favourite last night, while some reports have suggested a possible link-up with former team-mate Ian Crook, currently Sydney FC coach.
Crook last night declined to comment on the post, saying: “I'm very happy at Sydney.”
Former Charlton boss Alan Curbishley's name has been mentioned, but he is reported to be currently in New Zealand.
Former Norwich players agreed that sacking Nigel Worthington was right for the club.
City legend Iwan Roberts, third highest goalscorer in the club's history, said he would consider applying.
He said: “It is a great job and I would definitely think about throwing my name in the hat. I know I haven't got the managerial experience but I was there for a number of years and have 20 years experience in football.”
Worthington took his sacking on the chin when he said: “A fresh face for the football club and a fresh challenge for me will be good for both parties.”
The end for Worthington came just six days after majority shareholders Delia Smith and Michael Wynn Jones had issued a statement effectively giving him two matches to arrest his side's run of poor displays. In the end, it took just one more defeat to seal his fate.
But he took his dismissal with good grace, saying: “Norwich City is a magnificent football club with great supporters. I've had a wonderful 6½ years at the football club and I'm very privileged to have been one of the managers to have brought a bit of silverware to Carrow Road and that can only speak volumes for the people I have worked with.
“I was told after the game in the manager's lounge - the chief executive, one of the directors and chairman came to find me and explained the situation and it went from there.
"They've been great to work with and I can only thank them. I put everything into the job to deliver success and for most of the six-and-a-half years it's been tremendous.
"A fresh face for the football club and a fresh challenge for me will be good for both parties."
He said: “I set myself high targets, to get the club into the top six, if not the top two, but in the last few weeks we've not been up to the standard that we set in the first month.”
Doncaster appealed for unity as City plot the way forward.
He said: “It is absolutely vital that everyone pulls together and shows the unity which was such a part of what we achieved in previous seasons.
“We have got some important games coming up after a short break and it is vital we go into these with a sense of purpose and community.
“Today we are going to focus on what has happened. I have said that the process of finding a new manager now begins but I am not going to speculate as to who that might be.”
Before he was told of his fate, Worthington's post-match Press conference had an air of farewell about it.
He said: “We took the plaudits when things were going well. I'll take the bullets when it's not going so well and that's part of my job, but I certainly won't be deflecting anything on to the players at all.
“I've achieved a hell of a lot at this club with the help of others. I'm proud of that, I'll stand firm, I'll stand tall. There's nothing I'm ashamed of at all.”
He could not explain why his team - second in the table at the end of August - had slipped so badly.
He said: “It's the same group of players. Three weeks - that's how quickly it can change in football. We were second, I was runner-up in manager of the month, not that it means anything, but that's how well things are going, and you lose a couple of players, which doesn't help. But the situation's there and you deal with it in the best way you can and all of a sudden you start losing games of football and a little bit of confidence and belief goes, and then you're in freefall.”
Worthington, without midfielder Dickson Etuhu, suffering from a sore ankle, paid tribute to Darren Huckerby for his performance in his first match after three weeks out with a groin injury.
He said: “I can't speak highly enough of Darren Huckerby. He's not only played for Norwich City, he's played for Nigel Worthington today. A great professional, a great charcter. He epitomises what professionalism is all about. He was in good shape, but had things been going well, I'm sure another week would have done him no harm but he was adamant that he wanted to play.
“He's got off his sickbed to go and give it a go when many others might not, to save their own backs. He put himself out there for the fight and I've got a hell of a lot of time for him. He's a great professional."
t Name: Martin Hunter
Current post: Caretaker manager, Norwich City
Previous jobs: Assistant manager at Bradford and Stoke. England Under-19 head coach.
Credentials: The man in possession. Highly rated by his employers and City's first choice to replace Steve Foley as first team coach in the summer.
t Name: Ian Crook
Current post: Coach, Sydney FC
Previous jobs: Coach with Northern Spirit, head coach Newcastle (Australia), coach American Samoa.
Credentials: Very popular ex-Canary with long experience as a coach. Associated with City's most successful spell in the Premiership and UEFA Cup.
t Name: Mark Bowen
Current post: Assistant manager, Blackburn Rovers
Previous jobs: Wales assistant manager, Birmingham assistant manager.
Credentials: Highly regarded as a coach and associated, like Crook, associated with City's most successful team. A former City player of the season.
t Name: Alan Curbishley
Current post: None
Previous jobs: Charlton manager 1991-2006.
Credentials: Clinched promotion to the Premiership with Charlton in 1998, and after relegation, led them back to the top flight as Division One champions in 2000. A candidate for the England job earlier this year after standing down at The Valley.
t Name: Mike Newell
Current post: Luton Town manager
Previous job: Hartlepool United manager
Credentials: Led Luton to the League One title in 2004-05 and to 10th place in the Championship last season on limited resources. Applauded for his honesty in exposing bung culture in English football.
t Name: Steve Tilson
Current post: Southend United manager
Previous jobs: Head of Southend Centre of Excellence
Credentials: Led Southend to promotion in successive years as League Two play-off winners in 2005 and League One champions in 2006. Also took the club to two LDV Vans Trophy finals, losing to Blackpool and Wrexham. Also assists with England Under-21s.