Paddy Davitt verdict: Norwich City’s derby success is worth more than bragging rights
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Days like these are not just about football. They are about family ties, loyalty and shared experiences.
The outpouring of joy in the away end at Portman Road that greeted James Maddison’s winner will live with those Norwich City fans forever.
Maddison opted to run behind the goal and gently taunt the long-suffering Town supporters before racing back towards his own. The 20-year-old had etched his name in derby folklore, alongside the likes of Leon McKenzie or Grant Holt or Wes Hoolahan.
The Irishman clocks up a decade of service at Carrow Road next year and still does not know what it feels like to be on the losing side of this cross-border collision.
Among the avalanche of statistics in Norwich’s favour, when the debate turns towards this neighbourly squabble, that should underline the scale of the domination.
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Daniel Farke mischievously pointed out during the build up perhaps that was a result of Norwich’s years in the Premier League, in sharp contrast to the lack of upward mobility from the club with three stars on their shirt and 16 years in the second tier.
He was right to qualify the scale of City’s achievement, but Ipswich have still had plenty of opportunities to end this wretched trend. None better perhaps than against a City squad lacking deep East Anglian derby experience under the guidance of a German head coach more used to derbies in the yellow of Dortmund.
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Both he and his players acquitted themselves superbly. There was an inner confidence in the manner Farke spoke to the media on Friday about the scale of the task ahead. He knew exactly what was at stake but there was a cool, composed air around his Canaries which withstood Ipswich’s early assault.
Jonas Knudsen’s thumping hit against the inside of Angus Gunn’s far post may have altered the course of derby history. Likewise, David McGoldrick’s tame header six yards out when left unmarked at a free kick.
But the Canaries cashed in on their good fortune to gradually establish a measure of control they never really looked like relinquishing once Maddison had guided a sweet right-footed finish inside Bartosz Bialkowski’s post.
Martyn Waghorn’s lob drifted just over Gunn’s goal in stoppage time but this was no furious onslaught. Ipswich’s ripsote lacked the intensity of what City endured at Bramall Lane or the Riverside in recent times.
Norwich’s play was measured and efficient as they eased through the tape. A fifth consecutive away win, given the nature of those previous tests at outposts such as Sheffield United and Middlesbrough, once again illustrated Farke has found a residually effective formula.
He deserves huge credit, along with his coaching staff, for the scale of the turnaround from his first hesitant steps in the English game.
It is now hard to comprehend this is the same coaching team and playing staff who folded so compliantly at Aston Villa and Millwall. The Canaries’ looked naïve and embarrassingly easy to score against on his watch.
You could no longer throw such accusations at Norwich City. This is a lean, fighting force, that even with on-going injury problems and the unavailability of key performers, can seemingly go anywhere in the Championship and prevail.
That includes their bitter rivals, who must seriously wonder when they can break the curse. This was their day, this was their moment to end the hurt that has swollen since 2009. They fluffed their lines. There was a lack of precision and a lack of quality in Mick McCarthy’s ranks.
Town’s winning start to the season now appears a mirage. Another hard slog looks in store. For Norwich, sights can be raised higher.
Timm Klose led his team mates to the hordes in that away end, after shaking hands with McCarthy at the final whistle. Faces wreathed in smiles, betraying signs of the physical toil and sheer energy expended to earn another three points and inject more belief into this bandwagon.
They were the faces of young men who will sense, like those who follow them, that the signs are hugely encouraging and the possibilities are tantalisingly limitless.
A brief stop over at Arsenal on League Cup duty on Tuesday in north London should be savoured for what it is. A reward for perseverance.
The real business starts again this weekend in the Championship at home to Derby County.