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Ian Clarke: City need to look back to learn for the future

PUBLISHED: 10:06 05 September 2018 | UPDATED: 10:06 05 September 2018

The traveling Norwich City fans enjoy their latest East Anglian derby with Ipswich Town at Portman Road. Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images

The traveling Norwich City fans enjoy their latest East Anglian derby with Ipswich Town at Portman Road. Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images

Paul Chesterton

It’s been a week for looking back for me.

Grant Hanley of Norwich applauds the traveling support at the end of the Sky Bet Championship match at Portman Road, Ipswich
Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd +44 7904 640267
01/09/2018Grant Hanley of Norwich applauds the traveling support at the end of the Sky Bet Championship match at Portman Road, Ipswich Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd +44 7904 640267 01/09/2018

My dear Dad - who along with my Mum first took me to Carrow Road - would have been celebrating his 90th birthday.

We had so many great times watching the Canaries together (and plenty of moans!)

I will always be thankful to him for encouraging me to follow the boys in yellow and green.

In a few days time it will also be 30 years since I started out in journalism - and as you can imagine that has brought back plenty of memories of all that has happened in those three decades (including so many City-related news stories).

Max Aarons is firmly in the spotlight at Carrow Road Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images LtdMax Aarons is firmly in the spotlight at Carrow Road Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

And as Norwich took the unbeaten run in East Anglian derbies to 11, lots of people have embarked on amusing reflections on what was going on in the world the last time the Tractor Boys got one over on us (and yes Max Aarons really was only nine years old).

It got me thinking about has happened with our club since that day - and what needs to be learned as we head into the future.

Let’s remember that things were far from great in so many ways when goals from David Mooney and Sammy Clingan failed to stop City from going down to a 3-2 defeat at Portman Road in April 2009.

Two weeks later we were relegated to the third tier of English football for the first time in 49 years.

Typical Grant Holt - this time after scoring an equaliser at Burnley in February, 2011 Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images LtdTypical Grant Holt - this time after scoring an equaliser at Burnley in February, 2011 Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Amid the gloom of coming to terms with that drop, two crucial men entered NR1.

For £400,000, a 28-year-old former tyre fitter was signed from Shrewsbury.

Little did any of us know when he arrived the impact a certain Grant Holt would have on our club, especially when he made his debut in one of the most humiliating matches in our history.

Of course, there was the beautiful irony 11 days later when Paul Lambert, the man who masterminded that 1-7 against Colchester, walked through the Carrow Road entrance and in to the manager’s office.

I don’t need to give a blow by blow account of that season when we stormed to the League One title with 89 goals and 95 points - or indeed the following amazing year of sealing a back-to-back promotion culminating in that incredible night at Portsmouth.

Those years had the delightful combination of success and flair, swagger and sweat.

The first year back in the top flight under Lambert was decent with a 12th placed finish.

Chris Hughton took us one place higher in 2012/13 before the third season slide back to tier two.

Enter Alex Neil in January 2015 to drive City to that never-to-be-forgotten day at Wembley and another return to what we hoped would be stability and riches in the Premier League.

Sadly it was not to be.

Still we remained hopeful that the yo-yo could continue and a 4-1 trouncing of Blackburn fired us all up. Things didn’t work out, Neil left and Alan Irvine oversaw an eighth place finish.

The club embarked on a totally new strategy with Stuart Webber arriving as sporting director before Daniel Farke came in a few weeks later.

Eighteen months have now passed from then.

I’ve heard Sunday’s derby described by some as the worst ever.

Certainly it highlighted that the Pride of Anglia title was played for by two pretty bang average teams. The fact we were pleased with leave with a draw against a winless, bottom of the table team says a lot about where we’re at.

So what must we learn from those last nine years as we head to the future?
We need Holt-style big characters. The bloodied image of Grant Hanley was my favourite image from the derby. We want more talismen like that.

The days of signing players on hugely expensive long contracts must never return. We’re still suffering from the legacy of that.

Carrow Road has to become that noisy fortress again. Roughly the same number of people are in the ground now as when Simeon Jackson got that goal in the 3-2 against Derby. The volume has to get back to those levels.

I love the faith being put in the likes of Jamal Lewis and Max Aarons. They’re the present as well as the future. We need to cherish them and support them - and not get on their backs when they inevitably have a dip in form.

Players need to be played in their right positions - I’m not alone in being frustrated at some “round pegs in square holes” at the moment.

Let’s have more tempo and flair. Patience is a virtue to an extent but fans want to see action which gets them off their seats.

After the international break, we have a crucial period which will shape whether we can push on and up or if a scrap around the lower mid table is the reality.

OTBC.

Thanks for everything Russ

There’s very little left to be said about Russ Martin that hasn’t already been shared.

Since it was announced that he would be leaving Carra, there have rightly been glowing tributes from all quarters to celebrate a fantastic career and a genuinely really decent bloke.

I remember having a long chat with Russ at a charity event during a time when he was getting a fair bit of stick from sections of the crowd.

Part of him was pretty philosophical about it.

Russ pointed out that manager after manager picked him for the first team - he didn’t select himself.

I could also sense a genuine surprise that he had been singled out for abuse when he gave his all, continued to turn in decent performances and stuck his head above the parapet to face the music after poor team displays.

The success of football clubs is built on the likes of Russ.

I want to thank him for everything he has done for us - and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him back some time in another role.

Think before you type

Football fans have never had more outlets to share views,

In my early days you could shout and scream at the game, analyse everything on the way home, chunter to your mates for the rest of the week and write a letter to the paper if you really felt strongly.

Move the clock on and we now have myriad platforms through social media, phone ins, podcasts, chat rooms...I could go on.

Our beloved game is all about passion and opinions. It’s all about fervently agreeing with someone one minute and fiercely disagreeing another.

May free speech never be quashed.

But I was really disappointed with the amount of unnecessarily personal rubbish flying around after the derby, including at some of our writers.

These guys are consummate pros who travel to every corner of the country covering City.

They report on what they see and give honest opinions. They don’t deserve abuse from keyboard warriors.

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