Chris Goreham: Celebrating the big differences between Norwich City and Ipswich Town after THAT appointment
PUBLISHED: 06:00 30 October 2018
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Norwich City and Ipswich Town supporters put a lot of effort into arguing about their differences so it’s always amusing when something happens that proves how much they have in common.
Paul Lambert’s appointment at Portman Road means that Norwich fans have now got to pretend not to like the man who, until last Thursday, was regarded as a hero for providing three of the most memorable seasons and the most remarkable turnaround in Canaries history.
Ipswich supporters find themselves having to pretend that the 4-1 and 5-1 defeats at the hands of Lambert’s swashbuckling City have been forgiven and forgotten.
The Barclay End choir made its first move at the weekend with the release of a swift cover version of an old song they used to sing about a previous Ipswich manager.
“Cheer up George Burley” has now become “Cheer up Paul Lambert.” It works well but if I shared the rest of the lyrics in this newspaper I would be out of work quicker than Paul Hurst.
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It’s worth remembering that the only difference between Norwich City and Ipswich Town last season was goal difference.
Both took 60 points from 46 games and it was Town who enjoyed the bragging rights in a mid-table Championship squabble that felt like two bald men fighting over a comb compared to the play-off semi-final duel and other more significant derbies of yesteryear.
The other glaring similarity was what happened in Norfolk and Suffolk over the summer. Both clubs lost their top three Championship goalscorers. James Maddison and Josh Murphy were sold by Norwich for big money and they also allowed Nelson Oliveira to slide down the pecking order to an extent that he hasn’t featured in a match day squad this season.
Ipswich sold Martyn Waghorn and Joe Garner while Bersant Celina’s loan from Manchester City ended. All three are now playing for other Championship clubs.
That brings us on to the big difference. Norwich had a plan to fill the goalscoring void, the extent of which has become clear with the release of their annual accounts last week.
During that briefing it was revealed that City spent a grand total of £4.2 million on bringing Emi Buendia, Teemu Pukki, Mortz Leitner, Tim Krul, Jordan Rhodes and Felix Passlack to the club over the summer. That could go up by a further £9 million ‘dependent on club and/or player performance’. It’s a fair bet that if all those targets are hit Norwich will be in a position to be able to afford that extra outlay without too many problems.
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That’s six players, five of whom have already played a major part in City’s Championship successes this season, for at the very most £13 million. When you consider that by selling Maddison, Murphy and the often forgotten Marley Watkins the Canaries brought in over £30 million in transfer fees it looks like brilliant business and more proof that cash isn’t always king in the Championship.
I am not close enough to Ipswich Town to be able to have such in-depth knowledge of exactly what they did in the summer. But the league table rather than a balance sheet is enough to know that it didn’t work.
Town hero Terry Butcher knows a lot more about it than I do so listening to him answer questions with great concern about Ipswich’s plight at a Norwich City Fans Social Club event last week was enough evidence for me to be convinced that Paul Lambert has taken on a very difficult job.
Let’s be honest, if he pulls off this Escape to Victory at Portman Road, no-one at this end of the A140 will be surprised.
He has, after all, been the right man for an East Anglian team at its lowest ebb before but for now Norwich and Ipswich supporters will just have to find some common ground and agree to pretend that none of that ever happened.
Ball boy days...
Here’s a moral dilemma for you; Norwich City are 2-1 up in stoppage time. The visiting team, let’s call them ‘Midlands Villa’, win a corner but as the ball is deflected into the stands you catch it.
Do you: A- Throw the ball back to the corner taker (let’s call him Jock Graylish) as quickly as possible, B- Throw the ball back over your head to waste as much time as possible or C- Rise like a salmon and head the ball back onto the pitch?
If it’s ‘C’, you are far too confident in your own abilities.
This was a genuine Carrow Road conundrum for fans in the River End last Tuesday night and their decision to take option B has caused plenty of debate. Some saw it as the finest example of supporters being the mysterious 12th man that Delia Smith said we needed in her famous speech a few years ago. Holding on to the ball to frustrate an opponent and wind down the clock is a more practical method of helping your team than just singing loudly.
For others though it was asking for trouble. What if the referee added on more time as a result? What if Villa had equalised in the added time on top of added time? Could we all have blamed the River End? Thankfully that didn’t happen and Louis Thompson’s desperately timed dislocated shoulder meant that stoppage time became the length of a piece of string anyway.
From our commentary position on the gantry it is unlikely we’ll ever be put in such a quandary. It would be some clearance to reach us and I’m glad because the thought of having to actually touch the ball frightens me.
It comes from being the cause of a lengthy delay in a Carrow Road FA Youth Cup semi-final against Leeds United in the mid-90’s. I was one of the ball boys but the fact it wasn’t a first team game meant the old South Stand behind me was unoccupied. One pass went astray and bounced into the stand, ricocheting off a series of steps and empty plastic seats. It took me ages to discover its final resting place, wedged under one of the seats. The young lad taking the throw-in didn’t look very happy when I finally threw it back. I was never asked to be ball boy again.