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Chris Smith is the York City rock declares manager
10:40am Tuesday 12th March 2013 in Sport
CHRIS SMITH’S display against AFC Wimbledon showed the character that is needed to ensure York City get out of League Two relegation trouble, reckons boss Nigel Worthington.
The new Minstermen manager, speaking ahead of tonight’s crunch clash with Rochdale at Bootham Crescent (kick off 7.45pm), was impressed not just with the 31-year-old’s two goals in the 3-2 defeat at the Dons but also his leadership skills.
Smith has been the subject of repeated criticism from some sections of supporters during the last few months of the campaign but Worthington, describing his Saturday performance as “outstanding”, said it is on characters like the captain that City’s fight to maintain their League Two status may depend.
“He’s the captain and, if you take out his goals, the way he played was like a captain,” Worthington said.
“He played like a leader and that’s the characters you need – in and around the football club – to get you through situations like this.
“Football is a testing game. You can win loads of games, you can all of a sudden lose loads of games, or draw them, but it is how you cope with it and deal with it and that mental strength has got to be very strong in this club between now and then.”
He added: “It was nice to have the game on Saturday because, even though I had trained with the players all week, it’s actually in the game where you see your strengths and weaknesses and how people react.
“That was a good barometer for me. I know where we are at. I know what people can and can’t do, and we can work accordingly.
“There is enough there to get the results we require. They just need to believe in themselves. We have to go out there and play with freedom, go out there and enjoy the game, nullify the opposition, but make sure we perform.“Our number one focus is on our performance.
“Having had a game, and a week, to see and assess and look at everything, you get a better picture of where things are at.
“There is a job on, there’s no shadow of a doubt about that, but it is about self belief, keeping the confidence and a high team spirit to carry it through.”
It is Worthington’s first home game in charge and, while acknowledging he is looking forward to the game and his desire to see a big home crowd, he has stressed that a performance has to be delivered by his team.
He added: “I am looking forward to it but I certainly want a performance as well and that’s important. Times are hard for people now, supporters are paying good money for tickets.
“We have got to be appreciative of that and make sure we go and give the best that we can back to them – through a performance – and hopefully that will be good enough to get a good result.”
On Rochdale, Worthington said: “They are 4-4-2/4-2-4. The wide men are dangerous and they work hard but it is nothing different to ourselves.
“We have to go and do what we have to do and not worry about the opposition.
“We will hopefully be able to play a bit more football because it will rough and ready – physical, but nothing like Saturday.
“We have to start nice and bright, take the game to them, and keep it tight and try to create and score.”