Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 10 July 2014

Fans can't wait to see the back of Nigel Worthington

Walking away: Nigel Worthington leaves the press conference after announcing his resignation as Northern Ireland manager

After a dismal Euro 2012 qualifying campaign the outcome was inevitable.

And tonight Northern Ireland fans will see what many of them have been calling for for months — the back of Nigel Worthington.

The side’s manager of four-and -a-half years will be at the helm for the last time this evening in Italy.

Worthington is stepping down amid mounting pressure following a depressing series of losses — with the team only winning two of their last 23 matches.

His resignation comes after the 2-1 defeat at the hands of Estonia at Windsor Park last week, ending the side’s slim chances of qualifying for their first European Championships.

Speaking yesterday, Worthington said he felt it was “only right to give the association and players the opportunity and time to move forward and that is why I have decided that Tuesday night's game will be my last in charge”.

“It has been a pleasure and I would like to wish the Irish Football Association all the best for the future; and to the supporters who have been fantastic throughout,” he added.

Fans wasted no time in airing their opinions across all forms of social media.

Although some views were more heated and charged than others, the opinion was clear — Worthington should go.

“He's done the decent thing here, despite his increasingly bizarre public pronouncements about results and performances being ‘top class’, he must know deep down that they haven't been good enough,” one fan said.

Another believed his personality was to blame for not gelling with the team’s supporters.

“His record wasn’t the worst, but the dourness was not something NI fans had become accustomed to, and the fact that he'd lost the players — regardless of what some said in the media — signalled the end for him.”

Gary McAllister, chairman of the Amalgamation of Northern Ireland Supporters' Clubs, welcomed the move by Worthington.

“Well, I think it’s the right decision,” he said.

“There is no doubt he has passion and has worked throughout at all levels. But ultimately you are judged on how the senior team performs.

“The fans really have been divided on him — but I think it is for the best. We need to reunite fans again, and that won’t happen under him.”

Appointed manager in June 2007, Worthington’s contract was due to expire at the end of the year — with Northern Ireland not due to play again after tonight’s match until next February.

Irish Football Association president Jim Shaw offered Worthington thanks for his contribution and wished him “all the very best for the future”.

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