Munby: We don't have blind faith
Norwich City chairman Roger Munby has strongly dismissed suggestions that the club's board has blind faith in Nigel Worthington. Munby and his colleagues have stood squarely behind their manager during what has been a difficult season, with last week's statement from joint majority shareholders Delia Smith and Michael Wynn Jones being the latest very public display of support from the top.
Norwich City chairman Roger Munby has strongly dismissed suggestions that the club's board has blind faith in Nigel Worthington.
Munby and his colleagues have stood squarely behind their manager during what has been a difficult season, with last week's statement from joint majority shareholders Delia Smith and Michael Wynn Jones being the latest very public display of support from the top.
The directors have been backing the boss to the hilt while a significant number of fans have been calling for his sacking and the critics were quick to question the board's judgement at the recent public meeting at St Andrews Hall.
According to the chairman, they have stood firm for a very good reason - while they recognise it has not been the best of seasons for the Canaries they still feel Worthington is the best man for the job. Full stop.
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“As a board we take every decision unanimously,” he said in an exclusive interview with the Eastern Daily Press. “If we felt as a board that the time had come for a change then we wouldn't hide from making a decision. But we don't think that time has come.
“We have to take a long-term, broader view - that is the responsibility of the board. We have the privilege of knowing all of the facts and all of the circumstances behind the scenes and we have to take that into account.
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“Nigel has an outstanding record as a Championship manager. We believe in the application of his experience to the benefit of the club in the future. We think he has had an intensely disruptive season which he has worked very hard to pull out of - and that he is our man.
“If we ever thought he had shirked his duties, which he hasn't, or let us down, which he hasn't, then the circumstances would be different.
“It's not blind faith, it's not even eyes wide shut to use the famous movie title. It's eyes wide open, anything but blind faith.
“It's an analysis of circumstances, opportunities, performances - and it's a continuous debate with Nigel at board meetings - and outside them - as to why what has happened has happened. And what his plans and ambitions are for the future.”
Munby believes there are a number of reasons why the Canaries have failed to live up to their status as pre-season title favourites. The buck always stops with the manager, he knows that, but the club chairman clearly feels Worthington has been battling against the odds since the club's relegation from the Premiership.
“During the close season there were several enforced changes because players left the club,” he said. “Some had release clauses in their contracts if we did not retain Premiership status, others insisted that they wanted to stay in the Premiership, while others were offered contracts and simply refused them.
“We inevitably found ourselves in a period of great change and I think that has had a huge bearing on what has been, for Nigel and his team, an extraordinarily difficult and, in terms of results and performances, disappointing period for everyone involved.
“We at board level bleed as the fans do - it's just the same.”
Of course Worthington's cause would have been helped a whole lot if his summer signings had made an immediate impact, rather than taking time to settle or, in one case, not settling at all. But Munby refuses to criticise the manager for his recent dealings in the transfer market - and insists his overall record bears comparison with any of his contemporaries.
“All fans will know that it can take quite a long time for certain players to bed in, to find their feet in the team and to work with their colleagues - to have a disappointing start, only to flourish later on.
“It's unfair to talk about individuals. But it's often the case that one or two new signings, who may not appear to be making as much contribution as they possible could, are likely to do so in the future. You need to take a long-term view.
“I believe Nigel's signings since he took charge five-and-a-half years ago have been above average. Experts in football have said that if a manager in the Championship gets four out of 10 of his signings right he is doing well. I think Nigel's record is well above that.
“We have every confidence in Nigel's capabilities on that front, and in the capabilities of our scouting system.
“In short we trust Nigel's judgement - but it's not just the manager. We have a policy of due diligence at this club to understand the background of players before we think about signing them. A lot of work goes on behind the scenes to make sure they are the right players for Norwich City - although there are always going to be some moves that don't work out.”
While the Canaries still have a mathematical chance of reaching the play-offs this season the chances are that they will still be playing in the Championship next term - and Munby and his colleagues will clearly be hoping for better things from their managerial team next time around.
“I obviously hope next season will be a better one for the club,” he said. “We are unlikely to have to face the disruption of the last close season and we should have a much more stable squad upon which to build.
“It's a vital season for Norwich City. Assuming we are still in the Championship it will be our final season of parachute payments following our year in the Premiership and we have got to take advantage of all the benefits that that brings.”