|Hark Now Hear - This is Our Time|
Written by Pickersblue22 on Thursday, 19th Oct 2017 21:27
This one feels different. After nearly eight and a half years of hurt, this one just feels like it may all fall into place for Town. A chance to bury dark memories of Grant Holt, Lewis Grabban, Bradley Johnson, Nathan Redmond, Alex Neil et al.
On paper there is nothing to choose between the sides. The formbook suggests that Norwich head into Sunday's encounter in better shape, with only three goals conceded in their last eight games since a 4-0 spanking at Millwall. A last-gasp equaliser from Nelson Oliveira against Hull on Saturday lifted them above Town going into Sunday.
The war of words from the two camps this week is something that we have not really seen for a while before a derby. I would explain this by saying that there is so little between the two teams football-wise, that both camps are looking to gain an advantage in a different way. Any edge that one side can get may be crucial on Sunday.
There has been a justified acceptance in recent times from Ipswich players, management and fans that Norwich are simply a better team than us, with more squad depth, but that is no longer the case and Norwich know it. You only have to look at Luke Chambers' words - "We're looking forward to getting a win against these... Teams in this division should be fearing us" - to know that the belief is there that we can finally end the wait for a win.
Oliveira's comments on Saturday were an absolute godsend to Mick McCarthy and his players. As if they needed any more motivation already. I cannot begin to imagine what Mick's reaction would be if one of our players had done the same thing.
Of course if Oliveira goes and scores a hat-trick on Sunday, then it will all go out of the window, but I can't see that happening with the amount of stick he is likely to receive from our players and fans. I think it is a potentially extremely naive thing to have done, and shows a real lack of knowledge of this kind of occasion. It has certainly stoked the flames ahead of what is sure to be a fiery encounter.
The saying goes that 'form goes out the window in derby games', and we better hope that this the case on Sunday. Six defeats in eight have well and truly burst the bubble provided by our excellent start, whereas Norwich have basically done the opposite.
I think Mick realises that it was always likely to happen though. In the first few games everything we touched turned to gold - almost every shot on target resulted in a goal, while the current league table would suggest that we were perhaps fortunate with the teams we faced.
Deep down I think we all knew that we were unlikely to carry the run on for too long. Mick definitely knew it, but the key thing is that he hasn't yet slammed the brakes on in the way he has in the past few seasons when we have started to look suspect at the back.
This was my biggest worry during our bright start - that as soon as it ended Mick would rein us back in again. In a way Mick's hand was forced in those first few games in that he basically played the 11 fit players that he had available to him. You wonder whether we would actually have done as well had Mick had more players at his disposal. I can't imagine he would have started with four strikers in that situation.
The game at Leeds is a prime example of how we have improved this season. As soon as Leeds went in front, I immediately felt that we would struggle to get anything from the game. But we did equalise and even at 3-1 down we pulled one back and gave them a scare. Obviously the defeat at Sheffield United on Saturday was an example of us struggling to get back into a game once we go behind, and it is vital we don't slip into this habit once again.
It is fair to say that our squad has been upgraded on last season, especially going forward. Once we have the likes of Emyr Huws, Teddy Bishop etc back fit, we will be even stronger. But the problem then will be what is our best team? Strength in depth is all very well, but if we have no continuity in terms of selection then there is no chance of continuity in terms of results.
Already this season we have played with four and five at the back, and we are yet to really settle on a strike partnership. We know that if they are all fit, then Martyn Waghorn, Joe Garner and David McGoldrick must all start. There have been signs of some real fluidity going forward.
If Bersant Celina can get a run of games in the team then I think we have a real gem on our hands. However, I can't see that happening at the moment unfortunately. It is clear that Mick doesn't yet trust him which makes him unlikely to start against Norwich.
I would question the decision to start Dominic Iorfa over Jordan Spence at Bramall Lane as Spence has been terrific this season. However for me this is an example of how much our squad has improved. Choosing between those two is a nice dilemma to have, the like of which we haven't really had for a while.
Spence is a great player to have as he can play CB, RB, RCB, and RWB. It is the same with Jonas Knudsen on the other side. But this is where Mick has to be careful. Having so many options is a good thing, but his priority should be to find a combination that works and stick with it. We don't want to see him constantly matching up with the opposition, we want to see him being proactive rather than reactive. And what better game for that than Sunday against Norwich?
I truly believe we have a great chance to finally beat Norwich, but this will only happen if we concentrate on ourselves and get right at them from the off. This belief is shared right throughout the players and hopefully we will see that translated onto the pitch on Sunday. Let's get right behind the boys and hopefully we'll be celebrating a famous victory come 2pm. Come on you Blues!
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