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Last Updated: Monday, 9 August, 2004, 09:19 GMT 10:19 UK
New boys ready for fight
By Lewis Wiltshire

Nigel Worthington fought in footballing trenches alongside both Gary Megson and Iain Dowie during his playing days.

Dowie was a colleague in the Northern Ireland international team and Megson a fellow cog in Howard Wilkinson's wheel at Sheffield Wednesday.

Now all three are in the Premiership as managers and Norwich's Worthington says the top flight is in for a battle.

"If there's one thing you can say about the three of us it's that we are determined," said the Canaries boss.

"We'll get our teeth into the job and do what we can - the clubs' supporters can't ask for any more than that.

"If you look at the teams the three of us have turned out, they very much suggest that attitude in the way they play and work."

Worthington believes that of the three, West Brom are in the best position because their season in the Premiership in 2002-2003, and subsequent television money, has enabled them to spend the most.

"I think they have been allowed to spend a little bit more this time around because they've been up once, come back down and gone back up again. And they were very prudent before. That enables them to spend that little bit more now than the last time.

There are great clubs at this moment in time in a very sorry state financially, and we've got to learn from those situations
Nigel Worthington

"As for Iain Dowie and Crystal Palace, they have a very ambitious chairman, there's been reports of players targeted and very sizeable offers put in. With that type of ambition they stand a big chance as well."

West Brom have bought three players this summer for fees topping 1m as well as Kanu arriving from Arsenal.

Worthington, in contrast, has made two free transfer signings - Denmark captain Thomas Helveg from Inter Milan and Dundee United keeper Paul Gallacher - plus one loan signing in the shape of Arsenal's David Bentley and three cut-price deals in Youssef Safri, Simon Charlton and Mattias Jonson.

Nevertheless he is happy with his summer's work.

"It was a real capture to get Thomas in and I was delighted to do so. He's genuine quality.

"I can't go out and sign Patrick Vieira, Paul Scholes and Nicky Butt and so on so we've got to look to the next best and try to get value for money and Youssef Safri comes into that category.

"I must say I am absolutely delighted with Simon Charlton because he's a great professional and in very good condition for his age."

The Carrow Road boss would still like to sign one more player in each position but, with a limited budget, does Worthington cast envious glances at the money being lavished by managers he will shortly be pitting his wits against?

He said: "There's no point looking over the fence and thinking 'what a beautiful garden' if you haven't got the finances to sort out your own.

"There are great clubs at this moment in time in a very sorry state financially, and we've got to learn from those situations, not that we've got the resources that some of those clubs had.

"We've got to be very prudent, and try to get as much value for money and quality with what we can afford."

So what would make Worthington, and his old friends Megson and Dowie, happy this season?

"I would think if you said to Gary Megson, Nigel Worthington and Iain Dowie that they could finish outside the bottom three in the Premiership you would have three very happy men and three very happy football clubs.

"That's not being negative, I think that's realistic. From where we've come from, and where we are going to, just stabilising yourself in that first year would be a massive achievement.

"That's why it's a great challenge for all of us. You are pitting your wits against the likes of Chelsea who have spent 40m on two players and I think I have spent about 750,000.

"There's trepidation but we've got to meet the challenge head on. We've all worked very hard to achieve it and now we've got to enjoy it, get our teeth into it and you never know, we might surprise one or two by taking some points off people."

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