All a Norwich game against Ipswich needs is the right mixture of ingredients
PUBLISHED: 17:00 17 February 2018 | UPDATED: 17:40 17 February 2018
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Head of sport Chris Lakey gets a few East Anglian derby issues off his chest ahead of the latest instalment at Carrow Road.
It’s a game that generates more debate than any other for Norwich City fans.
The old enemy at Carrow Road... what could be better? Apart from beating the old enemy at Carrow Road. In a play-off semi-final.
True, recent memories have been terrific, but will Sunday’s meeting stand the test of time? In normal circumstances, a match between two mid-table teams, neither of which is genuinely setting the rest of the world alight, wouldn’t mean much. But this is different.
Years of combat between enemies always bottles itself up to be unleashed the next time they meet over the brow of the centre circle. How better to prepare than a look at some of the major (sort of) issues, the talking points?
Nelson Oliveira, if you can call zero goals in 10 appearances dangerous. City don’t really do dangerous in the literal sense. More quietly stewing if you like. Talking of stewing, one suspects Oliveira has been practising the Cristiano Ronaldo scowl from the Portuguese player manual since losing penalty taking duties against Derby at the weekend. That sort of thing is an affront to strikers, even if they’ve just missed one. Which is why big Nelson could be the dangerman. He’s lost a little love of late - what better way to win it back than score against Ipswich? Better still, get the winner. If Oliveira has anything about him he will be so up for this game Town won’t be able to handle him. PS Don’t forget his “We are better than them, we have better players than them, we are a better club than them” comment before the game at Portman Road.
Don’t tempt fate
It’s easy to dismiss Town as a team without danger, but we all know they will have different heads on at Carrow Road. They can bore the backsides off their fans all season, except for two games – get it right against City and they are heroes ever more. It’s a derby thing. So who’s most likely. Martyn Waghorn and Joe Garner have 10 goals apiece, Bersant Celina seven. City’s top three – James Maddison (nine), Oliveira (seven) and Josh Murphy (four) don’t compare favourably – but who would you have? Thought so.... We’ll vote Garner, for no good reason....
Ouch! Tough one. Who has a ricket in them? Could it be Ivo Pinto? The skipper was on the bench at the weekend and could be due a return, although it would be tough on Harrison Reed. Pinto did his knee getting out of his car, which sort of sums up for me that he can be a liability: a fine character he may be, but that doesn’t necessarily make him the strongest full-back. It’s a position that is fast disappearing, and while Pinto is cracking at full pelt on the attack, his defensive game could be better. You know whose balls whipped in to the far post to Angus Gunn’s right? That’s when I wince. Hope I’m wrong...
So, City have twice as many fans at home games than Ipswich do, give or take a few hundred. Both sets of supporters have had reason to moan at their team this season, but City fans haven’t stayed away. They’ve stayed loyal. And they’ve done it for years. Town’s average support is down 3,000 in three years – 19,603 to the current 16,513. That’s pretty big. But let’s be fair, when they come to Carrow Road they make an awful lot of noise – for 90 minutes. Hard-nosed City fans might not agree, but it’s true. And it’s true that for most other games, Carrow Road is deathly quiet. There is no getting away from it: it is a quiet football ground. Except on derby day, when two sets of fans turn the volume up to 11 and go for it.
This is Daniel Farke’s second East Anglian derby. It’s Mick McCarthy’s eighth. Farke has a 100pc record, three points out of three, no goals conceded. McCarthy hasn’t won any yet – three draws and four defeats. Just leaving that one there ...
It’d have to be Grant Holt. Nobody says a derby like Holt. The laughing cavalier, throwing his head back in sheer pleasure as another one goes in, as another chorus of abuse heads in his direction. That man soaked it up and spat it back. Grant Holt is the derby because he was perfect hero and perfect villain rolled into one. Plus, he was a better player than anyone who will step out at Carrow Road tomorrow (no offence intended).
Danny Haynes. I always broke out into a cold sweat when he had the ball, because far too often, something happened. When City were beaten 2-1 in February 2006 Haynes scored the winner, but the ball hit his arm before going over the line. Gary Doherty was credited with an own goal. It was tosh.