View from the opposition: Blues feel they can compete with City after strong start
© Copyright Stephen Waller
He's a Tractor Boys fan exiled in Norfolk but that hasn't stopped DOUG FAULKNER risking the wrath of his colleagues by predicting that Ipswich will reclaim the East Anglian crown tomorrow.
Why has Town’s form tailed off recently?
I think there are still questions over personnel and who is the best fit in some positions. I also think we have run in to some tougher fixtures of late. The start to the season saw us take on some of the lesser teams and some who we probably caught at a good time whereas fixtures against a resurgent Sheffield United and a strong Leeds team perhaps were a step too far. While the negativity of the last few seasons has somewhat abated, to be where we were after four or five games seemed like punching above our weight.
Are you worried about tomorrow’s game?
No. I think we have enough to beat Norwich and certainly will be tough to beat. While Norwich have improved and started grinding out results I think this will be one of the few times in several years that it will feel like we can go toe-to-toe on our terms. The Canaries’ squad has seen far more investment than the Blues’ but at the moment I don’t feel it is an unfair match up.
Which players have impressed for the Blues this season?
Joe Garner has come in and done very well, in fact I think our summer recruitment was pretty good all round. He was a big miss against Sheffield United and I hope he can return for the derby. David McGoldrick’s return to fitness and the form that comes with a run of games has been very welcome and I think Martyn Waghorn has given balance to the attack.
And which players have disappointed?
I think we are still suspect in defence, so it is probably a good idea to have changed the focus to attack. Right-back is probably the real problem area with neither Dominic Iorfa or Jordan Spence really looking up to the wing-back role. When Mick switches to 4-4-2 there does seem to be a better balance there. I am also not sure about Jonas Knudsen, although a derby day favourite, as a centre-back and prefer him on the left to cut in and get those goals.
Has the style of play improved this season?
Yes, but that was not a hard task. It has slowed down somewhat in recent weeks and there still seems to be a lack of care and time on the ball but you do have to be realistic with the players you have got. At some points this season we have had four strikers and a number 10 on the field so it is certainly more aggressive than the last two years when the tactic was to lump it to a single focal point.
Is Mick McCarthy’s time in Suffolk coming to an end?
Possibly. The change in style and early results certainly helped clear the air somewhat but the anger is still there when things don’t go so well. In all honesty Mick’s time will probably come to an end when he decides he has had enough of working with pennies in what has become a millionaires league.
How badly do fans want Town to end their winless derby run?
For me it feels like the season is the best chance we have had in a long time to end it, so badly. I’d take a draw and breaking the run in style at Carrow Road though...
Which Canaries players will you be wary of?
I have been impressed with James Maddison this season, and in his spell in Scotland, and I certainly think he could play a part in these fixtures in years to come. When it comes to a derby though I think you want to look to players who have been there and done it before, who won’t be overawed by the experience. Wes Hoolahan can always play a crucial part and I wouldn’t write him off I also think Josh Murphy, having come through the youth team and understanding what it means to fans, could play a big role particularly given our right sided struggles, while the power of Yanic Wildschut could also be a factor on the wing.
And finally, what is your prediction?
We haven’t drawn this season, and despite my head saying 1-1, I am going to say 2-1 to the Town. Norwich’s defence may have improved but so has our attacking play.
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