Southampton vs Huddersfield Town Less than a fortnight into his first journey into frontline management, Jon Worthington already talks with the authority of someone far more seasoned.
Huddersfield Town’s caretaker manager is in charge while the club decides on a permanent replacement for Darren Moore, with former Barnsley head coach Michael Duff emerging as a major contender.
After focusing on what the Terriers would bring to the table against struggling Sheffield Wednesday seven days ago, Worthington will stick to that strategy despite facing Southampton, who operate on a whole other level at the top of the division.
Saints have gone unbeaten in 24 league and cup matches since losing to Middlesbrough on September 23.
At St Mary’s, their form appears impregnable. They have won 11 of their past 12 unbeaten matches in all competitions, including the Solent, and have blown away a number of clubs in the process.
Rotherham are the only team who have taken anything away from Southampton since September 19. Town’s last victory in this region of Hampshire came at the old Dell in September 1971.
Worthington, sensibly, stated: “I don’t want to say too much about them.
“Yes, they have a talented squad with a distinct character in how they play. But having that clarity allows you to understand what you’re up against and offers us good options to try to work around it.”
Mindful that a successful tactical performance would just mark the card of any prospective potential new boss, if they were present, he continued: “I am not trying to impress anybody.” I’m just doing what I do: supporting and assisting the players.
“I said after the (Sheffield Wednesday) game, ‘I’ve done nothing, you’ve done it – you’ve crossed the line.'” In those situations, I simply try to assist and guide the players.
“Fortunately, they completed that on Saturday. That applies to this weekend as well.
“To be honest, I am really loving it. Personally, I’m thoroughly enjoying the experience and difficulties. I feel like I thrive in these settings.
“I am just enjoying it and taking each challenge as it comes and ultimately preparing the players as best we can for the game.”
Worthington, 40, is almost three years older than his current adversary, Russell Martin, which should give him optimism if he wants to break into senior management on his own someday.
While Martin has risen quickly to prominence during spells in command of MK Dons and Swansea City, the Yorkshireman is content with his own career.
Worthington, who will return to his post as academy manager once a full-time appointment is selected, said: “I’ve had quite a few responsibilities now and am definitely developing in terms of where I’d like to be.
“But I try not to look too far ahead.
“I am content as long as I am growing and improving in what I do and how I impact others.
“I believe that everyone’s journey is different. Russell has clearly done well and moved around a few clubs, but he’s quite clear about his perspective on the game, as well as his identity and ideals.
“Well done to him on that. I wish him the best – after Saturday.
Town will assess Michal Helik before of today’s encounter, while Jack Rudoni and David Kasumu return from illness. Bojan Radulovic is also available.