Jack Reeve: Paul Lambert’s overreaction let his club down in East Anglia derby
PUBLISHED: 17:00 11 February 2019
“We must have fire in our hearts and ice in our heads.”
As Daniel Farke delivered those exact words in his press conference on Friday afternoon, I knew the plan was set perfectly, all his players needed to do was execute it.
This East Anglian derby felt different to previous encounters.
It’s easy to forget that Norwich City and Ipswich Town were close to each other in the table ahead the reverse fixture at Portman Road back in September - City had only won one in six games.
Skip to February and the two clubs couldn’t be further apart. The difference is Norwich’s ‘new era’ was meticulously constructed, the other’s was merely PR nonsense.
Having spoke to many Ipswich fans in the build up to this game the only argument they could muster when asked if they had a chance of winning this derby was the fact that football was weird.
I’ve seen some peculiar things in my time supporting the Canaries, but seeing that Ipswich side beat this Norwich City side would have topped that list.
City never looked in danger of letting that second-minute Onel Hernandez goal count for nothing, they did everything they needed to without ever getting out of third gear, the individual bits of magic from Emi Buendia and Teemu Pukki were the difference between the two clubs.
It’s interesting to see how the two managers reacted to the awful challenge on Max Aarons on the stroke of half-time too.
Daniel Farke remembered to keep the ice in his head while Paul Lambert seemingly forgot about his pre-match comments.
Asked if he was ready for the reaction he’d receive on his return to Carrow Road he answered: “I had half of Glasgow hating me for nine years, I’ll be able to handle this.”
It’s evident he couldn’t.
Lambert let his players and Matt Gill down with his overreaction, he’s certainly talking a good game but under his leadership his side have won just twice and are now five points further adrift than they were when Paul Hurst was sacked.
As I’ve mentioned in all of my previous columns in this newspaper, City have overcome all the challenges needed in order to be considered as real title contenders this season.
We are now top and clear of third place by five points, that’s some effort considering where we finished last year and the shaky start to this campaign.
Many said that our run-in is ‘easier’ than our opponents’ and while true to a certain extent, away trips to Preston and Bolton in a week wouldn’t be classed as ‘easy’ under my watch.
When you have Teemu Pukki in your side though, no run of games should be feared. The Finnish striker has now scored as many goals in all competitions as the whole Ipswich Town squad combined (24).
His movement, ruthlessness in front of goal and incredible work ethic surely makes him one of the best free signings of all time.
With 15 games left of this intriguing Championship season, Norwich City should now be classed as the favourites to win it.
That shouldn’t be seen as pressure, it should be seen as a compliment to all involved who’ve managed to turn the sinking ship around.
Boys have become men this season, it’s now time for men to become heroes written in Norwich City folklore. I can’t wait to see how this magical journey turns out.