Manager defends deflated Canaries

CHRIS WISE Norwich City manager Nigel Worthington has defended his players against accusations that some of them appear to be letting their thoughts drift towards their summer holidays.


Norwich City manager Nigel Worthington has defended his players against accusations that some of them appear to be letting their thoughts drift towards their summer holidays.

The Canaries turned in a distinctly lacklustre performance in their previous game at Burnley and former skipper Iwan Roberts felt he detected a lack of passion for the cause as the visitors slumped to a 2-0 defeat that all but ended their chances of reaching the play-offs.

Roberts, who was watching the game live on Sky Television, went on to claim that certain unnamed individuals had been going through the motions when he declared: “Looking at some of the players' body language you got the impression they felt the season was over.”

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Worthington was also far from pleased with his side's display at Turf Moor last week, but he clearly felt his men were trying their hardest - and made it clear that they would be pulling out all the stops between now and the end of the campaign to ensure their side finished as high up the table as possible.

“I have read statements from different quarters suggesting my players might think they are on holiday now. That will not be the case at this football club,” he said.

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“Every game is important. People pay good money to watch us and we have got to go out there and give them good value. We will be going all out to win on Saturday, make no mistake about that. It's what we try and do in every game and whatever happens it will continue to be the case between now and the end of the season.”

Worthington reckons his side's poor display at Burnley was down to disappointment at failing to take a number of clear-cut chances rather than any lack of passion for the shirt.

But, like his former club captain, he was still dismayed at what he witnessed after Andy Gray had fired the Clarets into an 18th-minute lead.

“I don't know about a lack of passion,” he said. “I think it was disappointment you saw last Friday night. Disappointment that we failed to take one of the four good chances that came our way in the opening stages and they then managed to score from their very first attack. That rocked us a little bit.

“We were very disappointed when we conceded and I think our mood, our performance after that reflected our disappointment. That wasn't the right way to be.

“I didn't like what I saw for much of that game - it was a crazy situation that we allowed to happen and we have got to learn from it.”

He added: “You saw the Sheffield United game, you saw a lot of other games where there has been a loads of passion out there so I don't think that is something you can accuse the players of lacking.

“I think the performances we have been giving at home recently have been more Championship-like, where we have had to fight, scrap and roll our sleeves up - and have come away with all three points. That has got to continue, starting against Leicester on Saturday.

“They have done ever so well recently so it should be another good game. I know their manager Rob Kelly from his Blackburn days and he has done an excellent job there. I am not surprised at what he has achieved so far.”

While last week's defeat might be uppermost in supporters' minds right now it's worth remembering that City have still lost just twice in eight games since their painful defeat against Ipswich on February 5.

It's also a fact that Worthington's men are on a run of four straight home victories at present, having seen off the challenges of Brighton, Derby, Stoke and Sheffield United since the derby debacle.

A pre-match demonstration may be planned by the 'Worthy Out' campaign - but as far as the manager is concerned there is no good reason for any doom or gloom at present, even though he knows only too well that his side have been guilty of a lack of consistency this season.

“We were on a nice little run before last Friday,” he said. “We had a good chance to close the gap on the sides above us at Turf Moor and we didn't take it. Had we got the result we wanted we would have pushed the door further open and that has not happen.

“Instead it went the other way a little bit and it's now about us sticking at it.

“I'll be looking for big performances from my players on Saturday - and I'll be looking for big performances on an ongoing basis.

“I have used the word consistency a lot in the last seven days and that means getting good results over a long period, maybe seven, eight or nine games. That is something we have not achieved all season.

“We managed to win five in a row around Christmas time but that has been our limit so far. It's something we need to get into our play - it's something we need to get right in our heads.”

As for the planned march on Carrow Road before the game, Worthington added: “It will be the same as it was with every other demonstration - it won't be a distraction. We will be fully focused on the game.

“We have managed to win home games in similar circumstances before and we will be looking to do it again on Saturday.”

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