Michael Bailey: Norwich City's Ipswich Town stutter is just more evidence that their rollercoaster ride of recent seasons is juddering to a halt
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The times they are a changing - and Sunday's East Anglian derby did everything to prove it.
As I wrote on Saturday, Norwich City’s East Anglian derby dominance has been at the heart of eight years when even relegation brought promotion.
And yet, this season has felt different. The wounds more damaging, the attitude more sporadic and the confidence at times detached from reality.
Things have rarely ran smoothly in 2016-17 – earning yet another derby victory at Carrow Road didn’t feel like it would sit comfortably in that script.
Meanwhile, Ipswich were prettier on the eye than at any time in those previous eight years, apart from David McGoldrick’s dying swan impressions.
Their fans even came up with a new chant – although equating the Uefa Cup to becoming champions of Europe, even in the good old days, seems at best fanciful. Liverpool, otherwise known as 1981 European Cup winners, may have something to say about that.
There are few things that surprise you by the end of February.
Cameron Jerome is having to carry the striker burden on his own through Nelson Oliveira’s injury and after a stellar if profligate first half, the tank was soon empty.
City’s defensive resolve was good to a point – but not enough to keep their opponents out for an entire 90 minutes. Four efforts, one on target. One goal.
And despite the criticism Jacob Murphy’s performances can attract – this weekend it was his gamble on Jonas Knudsen not needing to be marked for Town’s opener – once again the winger notched either a goal or an assist while on City duty.
Both Murphy twins will prove absolutely key to where the Canaries are heading, and some still feel that could be the play-offs. After all, the gap to Sheffield Wednesday could be three points this time next week.
That is true, but also ignores the fact City aren’t playing well enough to carry through their promise and catch those above them, never mind beat them when they get there.
As proven on Sunday, Norwich are not the same side as two seasons’ ago – either in the derby or any other fixture – and that reality will only play out to a greater extent each passing week.