Worthington delighted to see Norwich on the up
Michael Bailey Northern Ireland manager Nigel Worthington believes his former club is one good Easter away from completing an immediate return to the Championship - and is absolutely delighted about it.
Northern Ireland manager Nigel Worthington believes his former club is one good Easter away from completing an immediate return to the Championship - and is absolutely delighted about it.
The man who spent just short of six years in charge at Carrow Road took the Canaries to the Premier League in 2004, masterminding the last time City won some silverware in the process with the Division One title.
Six years on and Saturday's 1-0 win over nearest challengers Leeds United extended the lead of Paul Lambert's Norwich City squad to 11 points with just eight games remaining, bringing another title - albeit a division lower - that bit closer.
City face the long trip to struggling Tranmere in front of the Sky cameras on Good Friday, before a home clash against basement boys Stockport on Easter Monday.
And, should everything go to plan in the remaining weeks of the season, Worthington feels it is what the owners and supporters of his old stamping ground deserve.
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He said: “I'm absolutely delighted for the football club that it's got back to winning ways. It's sitting very pretty at the top of the league and deservedly so.
“Everybody I'm sure has worked very hard to get it there and I'm very, very pleased for Michael and Delia, who have put the fruits of their labours and finances into the football club to make sure it keeps ticking over.
“And the supporters, as always, deserve success because of their support week in, week out; you see the crowds of 25,000 - it's absolutely amazing.
“If Norwich do their job over the Easter period like they have been doing, I think they're as good as promoted - and that's a fantastic achievement.”
League One has been the equivalent of quicksand to several big clubs, with Nottingham Forest, Sheffield Wednesday and Leeds all suffering prolonged spells out of English football's top two tiers.
And promotion at the first attempt would be that much sweeter for City, especially from a division that also contains Southampton and Charlton.
“I think it's very, very important that you try to get back at the first attempt and, as we all know, it's never very easy,” said Worthington. “So to achieve that is very good and I'm sure they will achieve it, and once they do, then the hard work again starts for the club to get itself focused on stabilising itself in the Championship.
“Personally, I would think it would need some strengthening and I'm sure the manager would be looking for that as well come the summer break, to add some players to the current group and strengthen it again, because the Championship is another level, the quality is better.
“But I'm sure Paul will be looking to pretty much keep the group that he's got and add to it. He has done a fantastic job and I'm just very, very pleased for the people who have been the lifeblood of the football club for many years, who are Norwich City through and through like so many people.”
Worthington admits he can see the similarities between his runaway Division One champions and this season's League One table toppers.
“Oh certainly, you can look at the similarities - the full stadiums, people wanting to support the club home and away, a tremendous atmosphere round the whole of Norfolk,” said Worthington.
“There's a fantastic spirit and there is a high, and it's massive. To have that feelgood factor around the place is very much a big positive for the community and the football club.
“I've seen Norwich a couple of times this season. Holt has been outstanding, Hoolahan has been a very, very good player and after that you've got a good solid team of performers.
“You need your one or two individuals like I had, in Huckerby and one or two others, and then you need your seven-out-of-tens every week in and around.
“And the likes of Gary Doherty, by the way, who had a very tough start to the season and again, he's turned it round and shown people what he can do.”
The other of Worthington's signings still at Carrow Road is Adam Drury, the skipper who lifted the Football League championship trophy in 2004 and would join a select band of 11 players to have won two promotions in their City career.
And the former City boss believes such a feat would be deserving of a place in the Canaries' Hall of Fame for a left-back who has made 317 appearances in a yellow shirt since joining from Peterborough in 2001.
He said: “Adam has been there for a long time and had a few injuries in recent seasons but is a very solid professional, and hopefully he gets a chance to be in the Hall of Fame - I think he deserves it.”
t CITY'S DOUBLE PROMOTION WINNERS:
1971-72 and 1974-75: Kevin Keelan, Dave Stringer, Duncan Forbes, Geoff Butler, Steve Grapes, Doug Livermore
1974-75 and 1981-82: Mick McGuire
1981-82 and 1985-86: Chris Woods, Dave Watson, Mark Barham, Peter Mendham, John Deehan, Paul Haylock
t Steve Grapes made one appearance as a sub in 1971-72 and played eight times in 1974-75
t Doug Livermore played 41 out of 42 games in 1971-72, but made just three appearances in 1974-75 and finished the season on loan at Bournemouth
(In addition, Graham Paddon played 40 out of 42 games in 1971-72 and made 8 appearances in 1981-82, but left the club in December 1981)