Get in touch: send your photos, videos, news & views by texting YORK to 80360 or send an email»
York City manager Nigel Worthington sets 50-point target for League Two survival
YORK City’s new boss Nigel Worthington is looking to make the same immediate impact at Bootham Crescent as he managed when saving Leicester from relegation in the Championship.
As revealed by The Press yesterday, Worthington, pictured above, has taken charge of the Minstermen following the dismissal of his predecessor Gary Mills at the weekend.
And his first target is to reach the 50-point safety mark – the club currently have 40 – that would preserve the club’s Football League status as soon as possible.
Worthington was assigned a similar task back in 2007 but only had five matches to keep the Foxes up following a run of eight games without a win.
Crucial victories at Preston and Barnsley subsequently ensured the drop was avoided and, with City currently lying four points above League Two’s bottom two places, he will be working on his inherited players’ mindsets to quickly end a sequence of 11 fixtures since the club’s last triumph.
In his first press conference as City chief, the former Norwich and Northern Ireland manager said: “The brief at Leicester was to come in and keep them in the Championship. I completed that job and it only takes a look at the table to see what position we are in now.
“I have to make an immediate impact because games are running out but there are ample points available to make sure we are in League Two next season. I have to get the mindset of the players right and, having trained with them now, I was impressed with a lot of the football.
“We probably need a more ruthless streak to win games and we’ve got to get into a healthy position, reach 50 points as soon as possible, maintain the club’s League Two status and then look forward.”
Worthington, employed under a similar rolling contract to Mills, has turned down previous chances to return to the game following the end of his reign as Northern Ireland manager in October 2011.
It is believed he was approached to take over at troubled League One outfit Coventry City but found the Minstermen a more attractive proposition due to their financial clean bill of health.
The former Sheffield Wednesday and Leeds left-back added: “I’ve had a few offers from clubs in higher divisions during the last 12 months but they did not feel right for me. I spoke to the chairman here at great length though on Sunday and there is a lot of common ground in our thoughts about how a football club should be run.
“I felt very comfortable with how realistic he is about how he wants the club to make steady and gradual progress. He doesn’t want to put the club in jeopardy and, for me, that’s the right way.
“I also know the history of the club and that it has been through some tough times over the last ten years. To fight back from where it has been was fantastic and now a lot of work has got to be done to move it forward again.”
Worthington, 51, admitted he now felt rejuvenated following a “nice rest” from the game that has given him a living since his playing debut for Notts County in 1981.
“I had been at the top end of the game for more than 30 years as a player and manager without a break,” he said. “I felt it was the right moment to have a bit of time out and I have enjoyed catching up with the family but I am ready to go again.”
Following four-and-a-half years as an international coach, Worthington is now looking forward to working at club level again but stressed the principles of management remain the same in both.
“Being an international manager was a fantastic experience,” he confessed. “I thoroughly enjoyed taking on some of the best coaches in the world but you only get to work with the players once every six weeks.
“It’s going to be great to get out into the fresh air with the lads every day again but, otherwise, there is not too much difference because you implement the same things that work for you at international level as you do at club level.”
Due to his work this season as a television and radio summariser, he has witnessed far more Premier League games than he has lower-tier fixtures.
He is also only familiar with a handful of City’s players but sees neither of those factors as an important barrier.
He said: “I know what this level is all about, what the challenge is and I am looking forward to it.
“Football’s a wonderful game for bringing people together and I expect to be up to speed with them all within a couple of days.”
Current City attacker Ashley Chambers was actually a 17-year-old hopeful on the books at Leicester during Worthington’s brief stint in charge there but the new Bootham Crescent boss had little chance to run the rule over him back then, explaining: “I only had five weeks there.”