Enjoy the rest of the season

I don't know why it is but derby day always leaves me wondering why the ridiculous kick-off time doesn't inspire me to eat breakfast beforehand and why I am always ravenous once the action gets under way.

I don't know why it is but derby day always leaves me wondering why the ridiculous kick-off time doesn't inspire me to eat breakfast beforehand and why I am always ravenous once the action gets under way.

I guess the nerves kick in early on making digesting even toast or cereal a little risky, but the rush of adrenaline once events start to unfold make the stomach desperate to remind one that there's actually nothing in there to fuel any out-of-seat jump to celebrate should the ball nestle in the back of the enemy net - which it did before we had barely had time to settle last Sunday, sending Carrow Road wild with delight.

Now you could have bet good money on the first half an hour or so being the frantic fare we are used to but this time around proceedings seemed even more frenetic than in recent encounters.

Perhaps the speed of running and passing was fuelled by Dickson Etuhu's early goal, and Ipswich certainly seemed more than a bit shell-shocked by it.

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But two alarming things emerged from what seemed to be a very encouraging opening to Canary fans. Firstly, we still too often lack the ability to pass to someone wearing the same colour shirt and secondly when our midfield is apparently having the better of things we seem to gradually fade, sit back more and generally have less and less possession.

The Ipswich equaliser had a touch of fortune about it I suppose but it was on the cards and, frankly it was nothing short of what they deserved.

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Aside from a vision of a former neighbour in south Norfolk jumping out of his seat and grinning at his copy of the '78 Cup Final video I must have had a resigned look on my face. Having looked around at those nearby I could see they had too.

Chances - there were many but none taken save that in the fourth minute.

Penalty - there perhaps should have been one midway through the second half as Hucks was felled but try as we might the ball just would not go past Supple in the Ipswich goal (he is surely still on schoolboy terms isn't he?) and time just ran out as we caught our collective breath and thought about a very, very late breakfast or a pretty late lunch.

A fair result? Maybe on overall reflection, although the team report will record something like 'wonderful start with plenty of effort and endeavour shown, and some considerable skill at times, but unable to sustain over ninety minutes. Shows promise but could do better'.

For me there was no early end to my hunger but instead a train journey ahead. However, with the luxury of two hours to kill, after visiting friends who work for the club on matchdays, I sauntered across Riverside, bought much-needed munchies and strolled relatively contentedly into the station only to find that my train had been cancelled!

The ticket office offered little comfort and a wait of almost three hours gave more than enough time to reflect upon where we as a club are going.

The loss of parachute payments will have had to have been factored into plans for next season so, apart from the sale of any asset of high value (Earnie), there may be few comings and goings, with outgoings likely to outnumber any incomers as Peter Grant continues to shape the squad to fit his purpose.

The green shoots of recovery appear to be there but need nurturing in the few weeks that remain of this season and those early weeks in late summer when the players return from their break.

I have said it before but a good start to next season will be vital in determining where we are in the league come May 2008. Yes, we didn't make a bad start to this season, yet we recorded a loss on the opening day at Leeds.

Our away form though was pretty bad from the off but generally has shown signs of improvement in recent months.

Consistency remains a dirty word however. We are clearly capable of beating anyone on our day and yet we are liable to be beaten by anyone, home or away, if we don't do the basics well and if we don't make the most of our strengths.

Hopefully, given a few more months under Peter Grant and the new coaching set-up, things will further improve and we can look forward to being in the top half of the table (indeed the top six) for most of next season.

Fail to deliver this then I suspect many will be looking for heads to roll and will start to mull over replacements at the top, such is the harsh reality of working in football.

Enjoy the rest of the season!

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