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Minute's applause was patronising and brilliant but Norwich City can't afford to be Championship snobs

Alex Pritchard of Norwich rues a missed chance during the Sky Bet Championship match at Carrow Road, Norwich
Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd +44 7904 640267
26/02/2017

Alex Pritchard of Norwich rues a missed chance during the Sky Bet Championship match at Carrow Road, Norwich Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd +44 7904 640267 26/02/2017

©Focus Images Limited www.focus-images.co.uk +447814 482222

The opportunity to poke fun at your fiercest rivals should never be passed up.

The moment the Barclay broke out in applause in the 15th minute to mark 15 years of Championship football for Ipswich Town was patronising...and brilliant at the same time.

For all Norwich’s travails this season, and there have been a few, it served to remind us that there is always someone worse off than you. The fact it’s Ipswich made it all the sweeter.

The Blues have become the archetypal Championship club and Norwich are desperate to avoid joining them as part of the second tier establishment.

However, the 1-1 draw means it’s now even more likely that Norwich and Ipswich will be sharing a division next season.

Therefore, the minute’s applause, arguably the most memorable moment of this derby, could also serve as a warning to City of what could become of them.

Promotion is looking a very long shot now given Norwich’s propensity to drop points when they need them most.

One more year of parachute payments remain after this season and the longer you stay in the second tier, the harder it is to get out of it. Just ask Ipswich.

Some big decisions lie ahead for City and the board. Do they stick or twist in the summer? Go all out for the Premier League with the financial outlay that entails or try to build a promotion campaign along more prudent lines?

If they don’t get it right you can be certain that Norwich will be in the Championship for a good deal longer than they intended.

Norwich have been unable to translate the quality that they’ve got in their ranks, into results.

The Canaries were clearly the better side for 95 per cent of yesterday’s derby against a passive Ipswich side that was happy to just do a containing job on Alex Neil’s men.

In the second half Norwich were briefly infected by Ipswich’s inertia and McCarthy’s men enjoyed a passage of play where City inexplicably sat off their opponents. It was like the Canaries were trying to take a breather during the heat of a Championship battle.

Perhaps the most surprising aspect was that Ipswich had the clinical edge to take advantage as David McGoldrick’s well flighted cross was headed home by Jonas Knudsen.

Norwich had clearly been the better side and the frustration around Carrow Road was palpable. Jacob Murphy snapshot calmed any nerves but you didn’t have the confidence in this City side that they would find a winner. Two years ago, they would have found a way – that’s what promotion-winning sides do.

But there isn’t the momentum amongst this group of players that we’ve seen in the past. Too much of that was lost towards the end of 2016 when City’s season went off a cliff and fans were calling for a change of manager.

Norwich may yet get closer to the top six but it would be through the shortfall of others.

City’s eyes must start looking to the next campaign and getting their recruitment right in the summer – more Mitchell Dijks, fewer Steven Naismiths.

There needs to be more balance to this squad. When Cameron Jerome was running out of steam in the second half there was no credible replacement that Neil has confidence in that could be thrown on. Nelson Oliveira’s absence through a foot injury is a problem whilst Neil has admitted he doesn’t think Lafferty can fulfil the demands he asks of his strikers.

When Jonny Howson took a knock there was a sharp intake of breath from City’s supporters given there was no like-for-like replacement on the bench.

Whatever division Norwich are in next season, some major work needs doing to this squad. More depth is needed in certain areas to sustain a promotion effort that doesn’t all centre around a place in the top six.

If they don’t get it right then Ipswich is a case in point of how the Championship can suck the ambition out of a football club.

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