Ipswich chief Mick McCarthy plays down East Anglian derby hype ahead of Norwich City’s visit
Mick McCarthy will relish the prospect of adding the East Anglian derby to his lengthy football CV.
The blunt Yorkshireman knows all about the tribal intensity of battles in Manchester, Glasgow and the north-east and Norwich's Portman Road visit is right up his street.
'I love them. Celtic versus Rangers, Manchester United versus Manchester City, I played in a few big ones. I managed a few too – Newcastle and Sunderland, West Brom and Wolves and they are great games. The Celtic ones always stick out for me. Nothing mattered apart from those Old Firm games up there. I was not aware until I went to Wolves what the depth of ill-feeling was between them and West Brom because I'm not from there. I've spoken to people over this last week that I didn't even know liked football who have said to me 'just do me a favour – make sure you beat Norwich on Saturday'. I'll tell you one thing, it won't come anywhere near Celtic and Rangers. Nothing has ever come near that. That's at the top and I'll tell you where this one ranks after the game.'
McCarthy is convinced Norwich deserve their billing as one of the promotion favourites.
'I expect a good Norwich team because I've seen them play and they'll definitely be one of the favourites for promotion to go straight back up,' he said. 'We're doing okay though and they know they'll be in for a game here. It will be a really competitive game, as is always the case in the Championship, with an added bit of spice. The crowd will be bigger, the atmosphere will be good.
'They can be a little bit heated and then it's about being calm and being able to have the coolness to play. I've got a very capable, competent, competitive team, but we're playing against a team that's just come out of the Premier.'
McCarthy will relish the special occasion.
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'Of course I am looking forward to it, but I was looking forward to the Fulham game and the Reading game and the Birmingham game too,' he said. 'I'm not from Ipswich. Don't get me wrong though, I don't underestimate what it means to the people who live in these areas and support their team. I'm looking forward to it because it should be a big crowd and a great atmosphere. Bring it on.
'Don't anybody think I'm unaware of what these games mean to people who are from the area and have supported the club for years and years and years. Don't be under any illusions of what it means to me either. I don't try and play it down and I don't need to play it up – it's a big game. Because it's our nearest and not so dearest it means a little bit more.'