Michael Bailey: Towering heroes, bottle-job villains and a warning – Six things learned from the derby draw that felt like a win
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Is there no end to Ipswich Town’s East Anglian derby torment? Michael Bailey dishes out six more lessons as Norwich City find a new way to drain the Tractor Boys’ battery.
1 – Life finds a way, as do City
That should have been that. The run was good while it lasted, but one sucker Suffolk punch a minute before time and the law of averages had returned balance to the force. Even Ipswich couldn’t muck that up. Surely.
And it was Luke Chambers who scored it, fresh from showing Nelson Oliveira he could score his own OGs perfectly well back in October ahead of this season’s first derby day.
All they had to do was get some territory, protect the ball and see it out. All Adam Webster had to do was put his arm down and get the ball instead of claiming a goal-kick that still hasn’t arrived.
Instead, in the fifth minute of added time we got a majestic cross from Grant Hanley and a towering header from Timm Klose. From open play. The pair’s positions in that phase of the game defy football logic.
From the pictures to the commentary, it was an incredible moment. It doesn’t always matter how they come – just that they did.
2 – Draws can have a winner too
It was always going to happen. Ipswich would have got stick from Norwich fans if they’d won 1-0 – ending nine years of derby hurt that is really beneath a team once, incorrectly, labelled Champions of Europe (it was just the Uefa Cup).
As it happens, City nabbed their equaliser and celebrated as if there would never be another game to enjoy – and the Town fans got their digs in.
Of course, that missed the point. The scenes were not about Norwich drawing – but the fact Ipswich blew it; the stunned faces in the vocal blue corner and the crackling electricity all around them.
It also underlined for the second Carrow Road game running, how improved the City fans’ mood has been – from march to match.
And as Angus Gunn tweeted, City weren’t at their best but showed what can happen when everyone sticks together. It could yet be City’s most powerful tool, be it for the rest of this season or what comes next.
3 – Hanley has started enjoying it
The first one I clocked was at Colney just a few weeks ago, before a repeat came the next time we headed to the Canaries’ training base.
And there it was again as the Scot left Carrow Road on Sunday – having stood in front of the Town fans moments earlier, to survey the damage from his stunning late cross: Grant Hanley with a smile on his face.
From fleeting press appearances, the centre-back comes across as a man in the same mould as he plays football: no nonsense, no quarter given, no drama.
And at this moment in time, off the back of a steady body of work dating back weeks, City’s decision to make sure their thrashing at Millwall resulted in Hanley’s arrival looks the wisest yet of the Stuart Webber and Daniel Farke reign.
His assist was one thing but his constant work for all 90 minutes, his pace and tenacity were peerless. He’s now a key man – and for that, it’s no wonder Hanley has a smile on his face. Sometimes.
4 – His cult-hero status is complete
From his early days on Snapchat to expressive interviews, Timm Klose has been someone easily endeared to the majority of Norwich City fans.
Indeed, his knee injury at Crystal Palace arguably proved the terminal blow to City’s top-flight survival hopes it looked, back in 2016.
There have been lows, like last season’s defeat at Burton – and Klose being the honest, engaging and articulate character he is, has done a superb job of addressing those times and learning from them this season.
The arrival of Daniel Farke may well have played a big role in Klose remaining a Canary – but from talk of his Norwich City boat to real shows of responsibility, Timm has proven one of Norwich’s most consistent performers this campaign.
And that in turn, makes it a little special for Klose to produce such an iconic moment in City’s season – celebrated with the kind of passion and emotion Carrow Road will never forget.
5 – Mick can’t even help himself
Mick McCarthy’s spell at Ipswich Town may yet be remembered for a zero win percentage against the only side Blues fans really want to beat – but close behind will be his unique ability to turn a bridge-building situation into dynamite.
He has previous, but his latest example actually came while he was celebrating what could have proved his best moment in five years at the helm of Suffolk’s Championship stalwarts.
The TV pictures show McCarthy telling his own fans where to go, moments after they told him what they thought of his third substitution and general football philosophy.
The man himself denied it, as he had too. Had his side held on, it would’ve been laughed away. Instead, it has been labelled by some as the final straw, in the final months of his contract.
It remains to be seen how bad Ipswich would be without him – but it’s hard to argue how their derby record could get much worse.
6 – Wolves won’t be so kind
Once the banter, revelry and adrenaline have ebbed away from the last East Anglian derby of the season, the debrief can begin – and it will come with a stark Championship conclusion: if Norwich play at Wolves like they did in Sunday’s first half, the runaway leaders will be out of sight well before half-time.
Wednesday’s trip to Molineux is as tough as it gets this term.
Wolves looked a class apart when they visited Carrow Road in October – and have since proved the clear title-winners they played like.
There will be elements that will suit Norwich, however. They will get time and space on the ball that Moritz Leitner and James Maddison could be able to exploit. Nelson Oliveira may want to show Wolves’ Portuguese boss and contingent what he’s got. City may even be better suited to matching Wolves’ physicality this time, with Tettey and Hanley in tow.
It will be some test – and Norwich’s only option is to rise to it.
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