I’d love us to make Ipswich Town fans’ big wish come true
Dearest fellow Norwich City fan, I have a confession to make. For, in the past seven days, I have crossed enemy lines to venture into deepest darkest Suffolk.
However, before you condemn me to be sent back across the border forthwith to see out my days in disgrace, hear me out – because I have returned with some very interesting intelligence.
Believe it or not, there are some Ipswich Town fans out there who actually WANT us to beat them in the Old Farm Derby this Sunday.
It seems that relations between supporters and manager Roy Keane have fallen so low that some want him out at whatever cost.
Even if that means contemplating the previously uncontemplatable – a defeat to their deadliest rivals.
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And when you read some of his comments about his own club’s supporters in the past few weeks it is easy to see why.
In October he described them as having “no idea what they’re talking about in terms of football”.
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And just for good measure he followed this rant up last week by criticising those fans who dared to boo a home defeat which saw the club sink into midtable.
We City fans know all too well from previous experience that once a manager turns on the fans who pay his wages it really is the beginning of the end.
Where’s Mr Roeder now hey? Or did I just happen to miss his tenure as England manager?
Granted, the source of this information was just two Ipswich season ticket holders I happened to be chatting to at a bar – but nevertheless it gives me further hope that this Sunday’s game will bring the result we all crave.
Because I’m sure that if Keane has lost the support of certain sections of the crowd, you can pretty much bet that the same thing has happened within the changing room.
And when managers lose the faith of their players it is only natural that the performances on the pitch are affected.
It is very much an aside, but this fits in with my theory on Keane as a manager.
I think that when he starts at a club, just the fact of who he is and his reputation on the playing field spurs the players to lift their game. It happened at Sunderland and Ipswich.
But over time, for one reason or another, he loses the changing room and starts to lose games.
The problem he faces is that soon his reputation as a manager will outweigh his reputation as an undoubtedly great player.
But I couldn’t care less about Keane’s future employment because all I am concerned with is three points in the bag this Sunday and the bragging rights that go with it.
It feels like the big one. A year without the derby has, for me at least, reignited passions.
In spite of the frustration of another lunch time kick-off, it should be a fantastic atmosphere at Carrow Road on Sunday.
Even better than against Leeds last weekend, which could prove to be a very valuable pre-derby warm-up, in that it got the players used to the level of anticipation and expectation that will prevail this weekend.
We may only have one win in the last eight but the level of performance has been very high in the past two weeks.
The Leeds match was made so entertaining because it contained two strong teams playing pretty much at the best of their ability for most of the match. Not something we have seen much of at Carrow Road this year.
Meanwhile, the first half against Reading was the best 45 minutes of the season so far. Play like that more often than not and the play-offs will be a certainty.
Granted, I’m an optimist (and the next few sentences could leave me with serious egg on my face) but is fate pushing in our direction this Sunday?
What better way to win for the first time in five games?
What better game for Grant Holt’s season to spring to life with a couple of vital goals? What better occasion to end our frustrating live television hoodoo?
And what better way to end Keane’s time at Ipswich?
If that’s what it takes then surely we will all be more than happy to grant the wish of those two Ipswich fans I encountered during my recent foray to the dark side?
• FIVE OF THE REST
1. It was good to see Wes Hoolahan at his creative best on Saturday, albeit for just a third of the game. I wonder if Paul Lambert is suffering from the same sort of conundrum bosses faced over our most recent creative genius Darren Huckerby? Having Hucks in the team undoubtedly had an impact on our defensive strength – but he created so much it was more than worth making concessions for. I feel the same about Hoolahan, he’s worth the extra effort.
2. It does have to be said though that the exclusion of Hoolahan and inclusion of David Fox in a sitting role against Leeds really freed up the ever excellent Andrew Crofts. At times on Saturday he was playing like a third striker. He actually reminded me of Steven Gerrard with his thrusting runs in support of the attack – and that can only be a compliment.
3. I’m thinking of launching a new version of the popular children’s book Where’s Wally? The aim is to be the first person to spot the tall, skinny character in a crowded and busy scene, such as a shopping centre or maybe even football ground. I’ll call it Where’s Whitbread? Anyone know what’s happened to our lesser-spotted centre-back? He seems to have been within a few weeks of a return for as long as I can remember.
4. The recent Cardiff away game afforded me the opportunity to experience for the first time a live rugby union match. And watching grown men take part in such a physical game without needing to berate the referee every five minutes made me realise that we have a lot to learn from our egg-chasing counterparts. Would it harm football to introduce a rule where if players berate the referee over a decision, the ball is moved 10 yards closer to their goal? Or what about the introduction of a 10 or 15 minute sin-bin for any instances of dissent?
5. If you were in the Barclay on Saturday and were somewhat perplexed to suddenly find a clip-board and Make It Marham petition thrust into your lap then that may have been my doing. I make no apology however as I, along with MPs, councillors, colleagues from within Archant Towers and Norfolk County Council, will be doing the same again this weekend both inside and outside the ground. I’ll probably be the militant-looking one walking around carrying a placard. Give me a shout and make sure you sign up!