Survival would be bigger than promotion

Norwich City legend Iwan Roberts today insisted that if Bryan Gunn can save the Canaries from relegation it will be a bigger achievement than former manager Nigel Worthington's Nationwide League title-winning feat of 2003-4.

By Andrew Lawn

Norwich City legend Iwan Roberts today insisted that if Bryan Gunn can save the Canaries from relegation it will be a bigger achievement than former manager Nigel Worthington's Nationwide League title-winning feat of 2003-4.

City could go a long way to ensuring their safety with a win at Ipswich in the East Anglian Derby tomorrow, but likewise a defeat would mean not only losing local bragging rights but it could also edge them substantially closer to the drop into League One.

Roberts, who was part of City's title-winning side, believes the current team can survive in the Championship and is hopeful of three points from Portman Road.


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“A win on Sunday would take City to 49 points, meaning they'd only need to take one point off Reading or Charlton to reach the magic 50-point safety mark, which I think will be enough to keep them up, especially given Barnsley's tough run-in,” said Roberts.

He added: “If Bryan can keep the club up then I think that will be as big, if not a bigger achievement than promotion was in 2003-2004.”

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The former striker, who made 306 appearances for City scoring 96 goals in seven years, admits there is an awful lot of pressure on the Norwich players to perform, but believes Town will also have to contend with the demands of their fans to deliver victory. It's this dynamic that Roberts hopes will work in City's favour come tomorrow's showdown.

Roberts said: “The Ipswich boys may not have much to play for in terms of league position but they, and their fans, would love to help send Norwich down and Norwich must be weary of that.”

Speculation also suggests that Ipswich manager Jim Magilton's job is on the line and a defeat by Norwich tomorrow could be the last straw.

But Roberts, who is pals with Magilton, didn't want to go that far. He said: “I wouldn't like to comment on the speculation that he may lose his job if Ipswich lose on Sunday as Jim is a good man who has done a really good job at Ipswich.

“Don't forget they had a shot at reaching the play-offs until very recently, although Jim has found it tougher this season especially at Portman Road which was a fortress for them last season.”

Roberts, however, revealed that none of the background will really matter come 12.45pm tomorrow.

“All the outside stuff will go out of the window come kick-off. In derby games the form book goes out of the window,” he said.

“I loved playing in derby matches, although you were always really nervous before you got out there. The atmosphere was always something really special.

“One of the highlights of my career was scoring twice in Bryan Hamilton's first game in charge when we beat Ipswich 2-0 at Portman Road back in 2000.”

Roberts also feels that Gunn can succeed despite his lack of managerial experience.

“Bryan has done an excellent job. He was thrown into the deep end but he has surrounded himself with good people who know the club inside out and, like I said, if Bryan can keep the club up then I think that will be as big, if not a bigger achievement than promotion was.”

While Roberts cannot be at the game because of his commitments covering Preston North End v Cardiff City with BBC Radio Wales, he says City are never far from his thoughts.

He said: “I love Norwich City Football Club and, to be honest, I never thought I would leave the club. But things change and I have moved on and really enjoy my role at BBC Radio Wales. Having said that, if the opportunity came up I would jump at the chance to come back.”

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