Norwich City rise above their November challenge
The month of November was flagged up as a 'huge one' for Norwich City. Four draws and a win later, you might just be wondering what all the fuss was about.
City are in a Championship play-off position, they've just seen off their biggest rivals without raising a sweat, the front two's partnership is back to its best and Paul Lambert can even afford to give Wes Hoolahan stunning cameo roles from the bench. Henri Lansbury has arrived from Arsenal and immediately looks like Cesc Fabregas.
Carrow Road has been full to the rafters for the last two games. All, it would seem, is right with the world.
If you think here is the appropriate place to inset the sentence 'but let's just spare a thought for our Suffolk neighbours' then you'd be wrong
Lambert and Town boss Roy Keane have crossed paths a few times in the past and appear to have a nice mutual respect thing going on and in those situations, dishing out a defeat of Sunday's proportions can be a tad embarrassing.
Lambert enjoys saturation support; Keane most certainly doesn't.
The two spoke after the match and while little of what goes in football's corridors ever comes out, Lambert knows the size of the hole he has helped dig.
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'I have a lot of time for Roy – an absolutely brilliant footballer,' he said. 'He knows that sometimes you have just got to take your medicine and go to the next one and try and rectify it as quick as you can.'
Ipswich face West Brom – 4-1 weekend winners at Everton – in a Carling Cup quarter-final at Portman Road tomorrow.
I wonder what sort of reception Keane will get? As frosty as the air around him, you'd guess.
In comparison, Lambert's position somewhere in the stands at Derby on Saturday will be sought out by the travelling army and he will be feted until he acknowledges them.
So we've established that City and Lambert are in a lot better place than Town and Keane, but that fact alone isn't enough to guarantee anything other than those famed East Anglian bragging rights – at least until next Easter when they lock horns again.
The problem with the Championship this year is that you can just about get a cigarette paper between the teams.
City are top six – but if results go against them this week, they could easily slip down to mid-table.
Have a bad month and the bottom half beckons – ask Ipswich, who dropped to 16th on Sunday evening. Town are six points behind Norwich. In the bigger scheme of things that isn't an awfully big gap.
The thing is, we shouldn't get carried away by one victory over Ipswich Town.
Try, if you can, to forget who they are and how it felt and regard it just as three points won – that way, by next Saturday night you might have forgotten about it.
The euphoria of the moment was fantastic, but it doesn't get you anything more than any other win. Gloating in front of the Blue in your office won't take you up the table.
It's time to do what football types do, and take it one game at a time.
If the clich� is good enough for Lambert then it's good enough for the rest of us.
The next game is Derby County: fourth in the table, marshalled by 36-year-old Robbie Savage, who appears to have taken over the social networking world where he is making it his business to upset everyone on earth.
Then it's Portsmouth at home, Coventry and Crystal Palace away and Sheffield United at home to finish the year
Take none of them for granted: all are as winnable as they are losable – because the Championship is so hard to predict.
One slip-up in the deep mid-winter and you could suddenly find the going is a little bit more difficult.
It doesn't look that way at the moment because that warm derby-winning feeling is still hanging around.
But the derby was all about historical emotions: sure, it's a momentous occasion. But stripped right down it's just 11 against 11, one manager against another.
It will be a contribitor to the end-of-season points total, not a season-changing fixture. Not just yet.