Worthy determined to end with a victory
CHRIS WISE Norwich City manager Nigel Worthington is determined to end a difficult season on a high note - by guiding his side to a seventh straight home victory.
Norwich City manager Nigel Worthington is determined to end a difficult season on a high note - by guiding his side to a seventh straight home victory.
The Canaries may have struggled to impress in recent months, but the fact remains that they have strung together a superb set of results at Carrow Road, and the man in charge wants that sequence to continue against old rivals Wolves tomorrow afternoon.
Worthington feels his side would have been in the play-offs by now had they started the season in the same way that they are finishing it - and is keeping his fingers crossed that the improvement will be acknowledged by supporters in what is traditionally a hard-fought, no-holds barred encounter.
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Referring to the tense atmosphere that has been a feature of recent Norwich home games, he declared: “I would like to try and get another home win, another three points. I would also like a good performance and a good atmosphere, a noisy atmosphere behind the team.
“Players and supporters can play their part together - and that has been a big part of our success. It's something we need going forward.
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“I am not going to get caught up in what some people are saying. Everybody is entitled to their opinion. We have got a job to do and we go out and do it to the best of our ability.”
It will certainly be interesting to note the mood of the supporters tomorrow. The fragile relationship between Worthington and a significant number of fans hit rock bottom when his side went 2-0 down against Queen's Park Rangers in their previous home game but they somehow managed to win it 3-2, and then built on that fine comeback by beating Cardiff last weekend.
Two good results obviously won't be enough to win the doubters around but a third straight victory would at least give them some food for thought - and Worthington had a few little reminders for his critics as he attempted to put the final game of the season into perspective.
“The points per game return over the second half of the season has been very good,” he said. “It has certainly been play-off form, and it could even have got us automatic promotion had we done as well in the first half.
“What is it now, six home wins on the bounce? We would like to try and make it seven on Sunday.
“It will be a nice little marker for me. Games between Norwich and Wolves are always good ones, going back to the play-off semi-finals. Sunday will be no different. I will be looking for total professionalism, a good performance.
“From the players' point of view it will be a case of 'where do we want to finish'. Do we want to finish seventh - or eighth, ninth or tenth? It's one of those.
“I want to finish seventh. If we could finish just outside the play-offs after the rollercoaster season we have had we would have clawed it back somewhat from where we were earlier on.”
Worthington remains frustrated that his side failed to fully recover from a poor start to the campaign - but reckons there were factors behind the under-achievement which some fans had chosen not to take into account when judging their team.
“Please don't overlook - like some people have - the fact that we have now had over 100 injuries over the course of the season,” he said. “There were also people at the club during the early part of the season who didn't really want to be here. All things have got to be taken into the equation.
“That seems to be lost in some people's minds - but it's fact. That's they way the game is - there are no guarantees.”
Worthington is without seven players for a variety of reasons tomorrow - Robert Green, Jason Shackell, Peter Thorne, Youssef Safri, Michael Spillane, Matthieu Louis-Jean and Darren Ward - and it's a statistic that sums up what has been a frustrating season on the injury front.
Most players have been ruled out at some stage, with no-one able to boast an ever-present record - but Worthington has most of his big guns available for the weekend, including in-form striker Robert Earnshaw who will be aiming to find the net for the third game in succession.
“It would be nice for both him and us if he could go and add to that tally on Sunday,” said the City boss, who is delighted with the impact the Welsh international has made since his potential £3.5m move from West Brom in January. “Robert is a goal-scorer. That's his job, that's what he does best. He is proven big time at this level and seven goals in 12 starts is an excellent return. He is one of the best in the Championship, that's for sure.”