Belfast Telegraph

Worthy on his way

Nigel's leaving after Euro campaign

Nigel Worthington is set to leave the Northern Ireland manager's role when the Euro 2008 campaign finishes.

When Worthington was appointed in the summer as Lawrie Sanchez's successor, he was brought in on a short term contract to take control of the team for the final six matches of the European Championship qualifying series.

The Belfast Telegraph understands that there will be no extension to that unless Worthington produces a miracle and guides the team to the Euro 2008 finals.

After crushing defeats in Latvia and Iceland in the last week, which has left Northern Ireland in third position in Group F, the general consensus of opinion in the squad is that the chance to qualify has gone.

There are three games left in the campaign and they promise to be the hardest of the lot - away to top two Sweden and Spain and at home to fourth placed Denmark, who are closing in on Northern Ireland.

While former Norwich City boss Worthington was happy to take the international post when it was offered to him, he has made no secret of his desire to return to club management.

Indeed he declared that ambition on the day he was unveiled by the Irish FA on June 1.

Ballymena man Worthington, who was a fine player for his country winning 66 caps, began with a 3-1 win over Liechtenstein last month, bringing hope that he would finish the good work started by Sanchez and guide the team to the Euro 2008 finals in Austria and Switzerland.

But in the last week, the wheels have come off.

Last Saturday Northern Ireland lost 1-0 to Latvia with Worthington's team selection questioned by frustrated fans.

After that match the manager slammed the players which did not go down well in the camp.

Indeed there was a clear the air meeting between the players and the boss the following day.

Then came a 2-1 defeat to Iceland on Wednesday, with the supporters once more upset with some of Worthington's tactical decisions. The defeats and player unrest has not gone down well with Irish FA chiefs who were fuming when news broke on Thursday of an astonishing bust-up between Keith Gillespie and George McCartney on the plane home from Iceland.

A parting of the ways now appears inevitable following Northern Ireland's qualifier against Spain in November.

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph