|We Can Touch Wembley, Now Let’s Grab Hold of It|
Written by Pickersblue22 on Friday, 15th May 2015 09:17
Few if any of our players have ever played in a game as big as Saturday’s at Carrow Road. A local derby, with the winner going to Wembley - could it be any more important? After a furious tussle at Portman Road, it has all come down to this.
I actually feel that not winning at Portman Road has made this game slightly easier. That might sound odd, but going into a game that you have to win is a lot different to trying to protect a lead.
We saw at Ewood Park, when we knew that a point would be enough, we played poorly. Similarly, in the home games against Blackpool and Cardiff, when winning was our only option, we played well and came through with two great results.
It is all about the mindset. Sitting on a lead would not be ideal against a team of Norwich’s quality. Had we beaten them on Saturday, the onus would have been completely on them to come and attack us. As it is, the slate has been wiped clean, and the situation is the same for both teams.
I do not envisage any difference in system for Carrow Road. Freddie Sears will likely be asked to patrol the left wing and help Tyrone Mings against Nathan Redmond and Steven Whittaker. It is important that Sears does this, as leaving Mings overly-exposed could be very dangerous.
Paul Anderson deserves to start in place of Luke Varney, after coming on and playing very well on Saturday. He obviously got the goal, and that will give him a huge confidence boost. Like Sears, he will need to help his full-back with dealing with Martin Olsson, and possibly the superb Bradley Johnson.
It is obviously important that we go out there and play as well. I can see Mick lining up with a 4-5-1 without the ball, which would change into 4-3-3 when we have it. Sears and Anderson will be out wide, and it is very important that they get close to Daryl Murphy, especially Sears.
Murphy can expect a lot of long balls to be coming up towards him, and he will have to win his aerial battles with Sebastian Bassong for us to be effective in the final third. While Sears has an important role defensively, it is vital that he gets close to Murphy and feeds off his hold-up play. If Murphy is isolated, we will keep on giving the ball back to Norwich and invite pressure onto ourselves.
In midfield, I see no reason to change from Cole Skuse, Teddy Bishop and Kevin Bru. Skuse has been an absolute revelation, and has now become almost as important to our team as Murphy. He does so much of the dirty work, but what he added to his game is tempo on the ball. He doesn’t just win it back, and pass to one of the centre-backs; he wins the ball and distributes it forward.
This comes from being confident in his own ability, and Skuse has good reason to be confident at the moment. His good work allows Bishop and Bru to be effective going forward. They have an important role to play in supporting Murphy. They have to move forward onto the ball rather than sitting behind Norwich’s midfield players. If those two are active in keeping possession in good areas of the pitch, then we can create chances to score.
Norwich have the pressure of the occasion on them. They are expected to win, being at home, and have the stronger squad. It is our job to frustrate and disrupt them, and look to exploit their weaknesses.
I can see them bringing in Wes Hoolahan, who has been a thorn in our side on a number of occasions. It was slightly surprising and a bit of a relief to see him on the bench at Portman Road, but I am sure he will come in this week. It is imperative that he is not allowed any time on the ball to create and set the tempo for Norwich. Skuse will be essential for stopping him, should he start the game.
It is worth paying tribute to the job Mick McCarthy has done this season. There was hope at the start of the season that we might make the play-offs, but to have been in the top six for the vast majority of the season is a fantastic achievement.
Even if we are not successful this time round, the players will have learnt so much from this season. Perhaps slightly more quality is needed for us to challenge at the top end of the league, but Mick, alongside Terry Connor, deserves so much credit for the way he has galvanised this group of players.
For me, Mick’s main strength is getting every ounce of ability out of every player. The players clearly love playing for him, and he gets the best out of them. Murphy is a perfect example of this; Cole Skuse another.
We can reach out and touch that place at Wembley. What we need to do now is grab hold of it. The situation is the same for Norwich. Ninety minutes from the Championship play-off final, the so-called £140 million game. We are nearly there. Forty-seven games of blood, sweat, and tears come down to this game. Let’s hope they will be tears of joy.
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