There is an air of resignation about this season from Norwich City supporters
PUBLISHED: 10:30 28 February 2017
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It would have taken 90 extraordinary minutes for Sunday’s derby clash to come anywhere close to what we were able to enjoy almost two years ago.
Before that play-off semi final second leg, the buzz around the city was incredible, the atmosphere electric, the tension palpable. Holding Sunday’s Championship fixture up with what could be a one-off event was never going to be a fair comparison.
A Sunday lunchtime kick-off never helps, but by the time 10 minutes had passed there was already something a little flat about this particular East Anglian derby. It was as forgettable as that previous encounter at Carrow Road was memorable.
If games were measured on chances created this would have been no contest, but Norwich were made to pay for their lack of cutting edge in front of goal, as well as what has become a routine defensive error.
It’s not the first time Mick McCarthy has been keen to stress the rich against poor narrative. Indeed, the celebrations from the Ipswich bench at full-time did resemble some we’ve seen from this season’s FA Cup giant-killing sides.
Anyone would think the millions of pounds Norwich have spent on players was donated by a generous benefactor instead of being earned the hard way through more than one promotion to the Premier League.
Yet while attempts to claim that Norwich’s relative wealth is unfair remain futile, the fact remains that there has been a huge gulf in the two clubs’ budgets. Taking a share of the spoils at one of the Championships’ biggest spenders, who happen to be your bitter rivals, is something for fans from the other side of the border to celebrate.
One thing both sets of supporters largely have in common is an air of resignation that their team’s manager has taken their club as far as they can.
McCarthy spoke about the result helping to repair a ‘broken’ relationship with Town fans. A 1-1 draw will have the opposite effect on Norwich supporters’ feelings towards Alex Neil.
City are now 18 points from the automatic promotion spots with 12 games to play. Never mind a play-off place, when you cast your eye over Norwich’s remaining fixtures it looks more probable that City will finish outside of the top 10.
There have been plenty of excuses but ultimately it boils down to not being good enough at both ends of the pitch. Scoring for fun in the odd fixture doesn’t make up for a lack of clinical finishing in the main, and consistently being exposed at the back only highlights this frailty further.
In recent years, Championship fixtures against Ipswich have come sporadically. Since last losing a derby in 2009, the two sides have only faced each other in Norwich’s promotion winning seasons. I think it’s safe to say that run is over.
City fans may have been able to mock our rivals’ 15-year stay in the second tier but this time supporters were unable to take pleasure from chanting about an impending season in the Premier League or a trip to Wembley for the richest game in football.
This was eighth against 15th in the Championship. As much as it hurts to admit, Norwich may have to get used to bragging rights being the only glory to play for in derby fixtures.
Saturday’s trip to stuttering Sheffield Wednesday is now a must win if City are to retain any distant hopes of a play-off place. With away fixtures at Leeds, Huddersfield and Preston to come there has to be a miraculous turnaround in Norwich’s form on the road if they are to sustain a fight for a top six finish let alone achieve it.