Norwich City are no soft touches: Holland

Norwich City have been praised for adding new steel to their repertoire under Paul Lambert – by a former Ipswich Town captain.

Matt Holland, who will be involved in TV coverage of the East Anglian derby at Carrow Road, reckons the Canaries are still a footballing side but “know how to tackle and mix it”.

Holland, who played in eight derbies for Town against City, believes his old club can win Sunday’s Championship showdown if they find their form after three straight defeats, but face a tough Norwich unit.

He said: “The atmosphere at Carrow Road will be terrific on Sunday and I believe the match itself will be extremely competitive too. Ipswich are under the cosh following three losses in a row so Roy Keane’s men not only need a result to earn the bragging rights, they need it to reinvigorate their campaign.

“It’s been a strange season so far for them as they’ve tended to string wins and losses together in different patches without showing any form of consistency over the course of four or five matches. Injuries haven’t helped and nor has a lack of goals but they remain a decent side who could quite easily turn up in Norfolk and breeze to a win if they perform to their potential.”

However, writing in his Championship blog on the Football League website, he warned that City were a different proposition to some teams of the past.

“The Canaries for their part should be lifted by the loan signing of Arsenal youngster Henri Lansbury who will make his debut against the Blues,” added Holland. “I have seen Henri play a number of times and he’s an excellent footballer who I rate highly.

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“Norwich have always been a footballing side and with Lansbury linking up with Wes Hoolahan they will provide craft and guile aplenty but it’s not just about pretty passing with the club these days, they also know how to tackle and mix it too. They have a balanced team with a solid all-round game.”

Holland experienced derby delight and despair during six years at Portman Road.

He recalled: “In the past I’ve tasted sweet success and embarrassing failure in the fixture so I can tell all those involved in this Sunday’s clash that the pressure will be enormous for them to deliver the right result.

“After winning by five goals one year we all achieved hero status as players in Ipswich, not buying our own drinks for months and revelling in the circus that followed which included T-shirts, DVDs, and all sorts of other bragging. “I also vividly recall being stuffed by Norwich at Portman Road and feeling the full wrath of the home support. The fans were reeling and I had to face up to some angry and confrontational supporters as I left the stadium in my car afterwards. Nothing untoward happened but I was left with a sick sense that we had let them all down very badly. It was quite distressing.”

Holland has not been a lucky charm for his old club this season, he admits.

“I’ve proved to be somewhat of a jinx for Ipswich this season, commentating on local radio three times for three defeats, so I’m hoping that by working for TV this weekend I can help bring about a change of luck for them,” he said.