|Norwich City 1 v 1 Ipswich Town|
Sunday, 18th February 2018 Kick-off 12:00
McCarthy: I'd Love to Win Derby For Long-Suffering Fans
Friday, 16th Feb 2018 18:41
Boss Mick McCarthy says he’d love to win Sunday’s East Anglian derby against Norwich City at Carrow Road for Town's fans, bringing their nine-year wait for a victory over their greatest foes to an end (Sky Sports Main Event/Football from 11.30am, kick-off midday). McCarthy admits that if either side loses Sunday’s match it would almost certainly end their play-off hopes.
The Blues go into the weekend 12th, ahead of the 13th-placed Canaries on goal difference alone, both eight points off the top six.
Town are without a derby win in nine years, while their last win at Carrow Road 12 seasons ago and McCarthy says he’s well aware of fans’ frustrations regarding their lack of cheer in derby fixtures.
“I’d love to win it for the fans, they’ve been long-suffering against Norwich,” the Blues manager said.
“It would be great for them to go and see us get a win. If we can put in an extra spring in our step for them on Sunday that’s what we’ll do.”
After last week’s disappointing 0-0 home draw with Burton - the Canaries recorded the same scoreline against the bottom-of-the-table Brewers both home and away - McCarthy says the derby could either be the best game to be up next or the worst.
“It’s the ideal fixture if you play well and win it or get something out of it,” he reflected. “It’s the worst possible fixture if you don’t. But our intention is to go there and play well and get something from the game.”
He added: “We need to play well and perform far better. And we have done throughout the season. That’s pretty much a one-off that performance.
“We were poor last week, but that does happen. If our form is marked by last week’s performance then I sincerely hope form goes out of the window.
“But we’ve both got 44 points and we’re dead level, so we must have had pretty similar seasons.”
Given the atmosphere during and at the end of last week’s match, is it better that Sunday’s match is away rather than at Portman Road?
“Well, if this game was at home I think it probably would be a full house as well and the atmosphere’s somewhat different then,” he added.
“It doesn’t really matter, I guess it’s when you can hear the comments. You can’t when there’s a full house the noise is great and the intensity’s different. But whatever, we’re going away and I’m looking forward to it.”
Putting the overall performance against the Brewers to one side for a moment, the Blues boss says there were some positives even to be taken from that with Town picking up their third clean sheet in five games.
“It took a magnificent save from Bart at the end but nevertheless it was still a clean sheet,” he said.
“I know there are teams that would have capitulated when they were playing the way we were playing, my team were playing.
“There would have been arms going up and complaints at bad passes and things going wrong and they would have lost. So, I always take the positives out of it and the positive was a point.”
And, of course, the previous week his team won 2-0 away against his old club Sunderland: “Yes, a clean sheet and at the time we needed it, so it was a good performance.”
Asked his thoughts on Norwich and their season, he said: “It’s always difficult that, talking about a team who you’re just going to play.
“I’ve been asked, ‘Am I surprised that they’re not above us?’. I guess with the money that they’ve had from coming down from the Premier League and the players that they’ve spent it on and the funds they’ve had available, then yes I am.
“But it doesn’t always work like that, does it? We’ve got them beneath us, although they’re on the same points, we’ve got Hull beneath us, we’ve got Sunderland beneath us, who apparently have got something like £96 million over the next three years to spend.
“Then yes, those teams should be better. But it doesn’t always work that way, does it?”
McCarthy wouldn’t get drawn into a discussion on whether Town go into the match as underdogs: “You playing mind games with me? Have they just let a 28-year-old manager in here? Do me a favour.
“We’re above them in the table, aren’t we? Level on points and I’ve just heard the other stat, what was it, 40 derby wins each or something?
“So, neither of us are underdogs. You’d have to say if there’s one bit that gives you a bit of favouritism, a bit of an edge is that being at home.”
Speaking earlier in the week, Cole Skuse said he’d be willing to man mark Canaries’ star man James Maddison if he were asked to do so.
“And there’s be no better man to do it, of course,” McCarthy said. “You can’t just let better players roam around and just let them be free because if you do it’s going to cause problems.
“And it was proved here actually. I thought he played well here but we did a decent job on him and it was just one moment of quality which was the difference in the two teams and that came from Maddison. Whether we look after him man-for-man is another matter to see on Sunday.”
McCarthy has often switched his side around within games to counteract opposition threats, which he says is something managers have to be prepared to do.
“You’ve got to do it,” he said. “It’s all right just putting your team out, but you’ve got to continually manage it because whatever you do, whatever shape of team and whatever team you pick, it maybe going great, it might not be and they’re having an advantage through just one player, so you’ve got to change it, you’ve got to manage it, it’s tactics and sometimes changing your tactics to suit the game.”
Was McCarthy, a veteran of some of British football’s biggest derbies, taken aback by the strength of the rivalry when he took over at Portman Road five and a half years ago?
“Not really because when I went to Wolves I was surprised at the ferocity of that, Wolves and West Brom,” he recalled.
“There’s nothing matches Celtic-Rangers, Rangers-Celtic, nothing at all. Man U-Man City, I’ve been involved in some big ones.
“But this is the biggest this weekend and everybody who’s from Norfolk or Suffolk, it’s their biggest game, so it doesn’t really matter whether there’s a bigger derby in Italy or in Spain or whether in Manchester or Glasgow, this is our biggest game.”
Is Sunday’s game more exciting from his perspective as a manager? “Yes, because of the importance of it. The importance of it to the fans, to the club and to me and the team as well. It’s a big game for us.”
Would he be disappointed to leave Portman Road - his contract is up in the summer with no decision yet made on his future - without winning a derby?
“Not if we win 10 others between now and the end of the season, if somebody says, ‘You never won that’ but we end up doing as well as we can do.
“I want to win this game, I want to win it for me personally, for the lads, for the fans more than anything because I keep hearing the stats, that we haven’t won one for so long and I know how much it means to the home fans.
“So, I don’t know whether I’ll leave here or not, I might have to come back and try it again.”
McCarthy says either team losing on Sunday will effectively be out of the play-off race: “More than likely, you have put that one down, ‘If we don’t win Mick rules out the play-offs’. That’s a good one for you!”
Conversely, he believes a victory could provide the impetus for a top-six push: “Of course. Let’s hope that we’ve won and let’s hope it’s a springboard for us to look forward and to be thinking we can still get on the end of the play-offs and not Norwich.”
McCarthy felt the teams were evenly matched at Portman Road in October when the Canaries won 1-0.
“Just one bit of quality I thought from Maddison, it was a great finish,” he added. “Other than that the game was pretty even, I thought we played well in it actually. But it doesn’t really matter playing well in it if you get beaten.”
Financially, the gulf between the teams is closing with Norwich preparing for a future without parachute payments with this season’s tranche their last following their relegation from the Premier League in 2015/16.
“We weren’t that far apart on the pitch which is the only thing which concerns me, not anything else,” McCarthy said reflecting on the play-off games in 2014/15 and subsequent fixtures.
“We had two 1-1 draws last year and I think we did well, the team, considering that they get the amount of money they get when they’ve come down and the spending power they’ve had over the last three years, probably more, certainly since I’ve been here.
“They’ve had a few more quid than we’ve had to spend, let’s put it that way and we got two one-all draws, I think they were good results for us.
“We narrowly lost this one here this season, I’d like to redress that for everybody concerned.”
Might Norwich learn how tough the division has been for Town once their parachute payments end? “I keep hearing stories about the ones that are running out of parachute money, them included, that if they do they’re going to be in debt and they’re going to have to budget accordingly.
“I’d like to see a few more on my budget and see how well they do, to be quite honest. That would be interesting.”
Reflecting further on that nine-year wait for derby glory and the defeats in October and the play-offs, he added: “You can’t do anything about historical fixtures, all you can do is win the fixture that’s in front of you. But I am aware of them and it means a little bit more to me if we win this on Sunday.
“I can only speak as when I was a player and if I’d lost to somebody I certainly didn’t want to lose again, there’d be something burning fiercely inside me not to get beaten again, for sure.”
Bartosz Bialkowski - the only current Blues player to have been in a Town matchday squad which has beaten Norwich - will be in goal with derby goal specialist Jonas Knudsen at left-back.
Jordan Spence will probably keep his role at right-back, although Dominic Iorfa could come into the side for a game or two over the next week with the Blues hosting Cardiff on Wednesday and then travelling to Preston next Saturday.
Cameron Carter-Vickers is again likely to partner skipper Luke Chambers at the centre of the defence, however, it’s not impossible that McCarthy could switch to a back three matching Norwich’s system with Adam Webster coming into the team.
But the Blues boss seems most likely to stick with the 4-2-3-1 formation which has become familiar over the season with Skuse and Callum Connolly the deeper lying midfielders.
Ahead of them, David McGoldrick appears set to return in the trio behind lone out-and-out striker Joe Garner with Martyn Waghorn - who has now gone 12 games without a goal - in one of the others.
Grant Ward and Bersant Celina are likely to take up the third, although Mustapha Carayol, who would be making his full debut, is another option.
Norwich head coach Daniel Farke says there is pressure on Town following the Canaries’ win at Portman Road in October.
”It’s always an exciting week because we all know the games against Ipswich are probably the most important of the year," the German told the Canaries official website.
"In the first game we had a brilliant away win, which made our fans happy. We know how important the game is for our supporters and we want to give them that winning feeling again.
"The pressure is on Ipswich to show a reaction from that last game. We are the home team and in good shape so know we can play in a self-confident way.
"In a derby, there is no favourite. It’s a special day for the clubs and we want to be successful so we’re looking forward to it.”
Regarding Blues boss McCarthy, Farke added: “I am full of respect for his career. He has worked so long in this business and that is not easy.
“Listen, you have some good times as a coach and some times when it is tough and you are struggling a bit.
"In his whole career he has been very successful and I would hope that one day I can look back on such a long career at this high level. I only have big compliments for Mick.
“I enjoyed meeting him in Ipswich before the first game this season. He is a brilliant person and a brilliant character. He was unbelievably friendly and kind. He was a gentleman and I enjoyed having a chat with him.
“All I can say is even in Ipswich it is not like they have the opportunities of other clubs in this division, like Wolves or Middlesbrough, who are able to spend millions of pounds.
“Out of these opportunities he has done a really good job. Of course, if you have a bad result or two then people are not happy. That is the same for me and I expect criticism.”
Central defender Timm Klose and midfielder Moritz Leitner missed training earlier in the week with calf problems but Farke is confident they’ll be OK to face the Blues.
Right-back Ivo Pinto is expected to be fine after a knee problem, while Southampton loanee Harrison Reed is a doubt with a back problem.
Midfielder Marcus Edwards could be ready to make his debut also having been out with a back injury, while winger Matt Jarvis, who played for Blues boss McCarthy at Wolves, recently returned to training after a long-term ankle problem but won’t be in contention for Sunday.
German midfielder Tom Trybull will miss out with ankle and knee ligament damage and Louis Thompson remains on the sidelines with an achilles injury.
Historically, the teams are very closely matched, Town winning 40 (38 in the league), losing 40 (34) and drawing 20 (17).
The 5-1 at Portman Road in 2011 was Norwich’s biggest derby victory, while Town have recorded 5-0 wins on three occasions, in 1946, 1977 and 1998.
At Portman Road in October, Maddison’s 59th minute goal saw Norwich City to a 1-0 victory.
The Blues deserved something from the game having been the better side in a first half in which Knudsen hit the post and McGoldrick headed over when he will feel he should have scored.
Last season both games ended 1-1. At Carrow Road in February, Knudsen netted his second derby goal of the season but Jacob Murphy equalised.
Knudsen opened the scoring with a header on 63, then Murphy beat the otherwise brilliant Bialkowski with a 20-yard strike at an angle six minutes later.
At Portman Road in the previous August, Knudsen netted a first-half injury time equaliser as the 2016/17 campaign’s first East Anglian derby ended 1-1.
After Jonathan Douglas had had an early goal wrongly ruled out for offside, Cameron Jerome gave the Canaries the lead against the run of play on 26 but Knudsen equalised. In the second half, Steven Whittaker came closest to winning it when he hit the post.
Town are without a win in nine derbies - six defeats, three draws - their last victory having been at Portman Road towards the end of Norwich’s 2008/09 Championship relegation season when they won 3-2 in what proved to be Jim Magilton’s final game as boss.
David Mooney put the Canaries in front before Town struck three times via Alan Quinn, Giovani Dos Santos (penalty) and Jon Stead with Sammy Clingan adding a consolation for the visitors towards the end, also from the spot. Current keeper Bialkowski was on the bench for the Blues during his earlier loan spell at the club.
Town last won at Carrow Road in February 2006 when an 88th-minute goal forced in by a combination of Danny Haynes's hand and Norwich defender Gary Doherty gave the Blues win.
The home side had gone ahead in the first half through Jonatan Johansson but the ex-Addick deflected in a Jimmy Juan freekick soon afterwards.
Town midfielder Tom Adeyemi came through the youth system at Norwich and made eight starts and nine sub appearances before moving on to Cardiff in July 2013.
Blues U18s coach Alan Lee had a brief spell on loan at Carrow Road and played for the Canaries in the 2009 Portman Road derby.
His Playford Road colleague Steve Foley was first-team coach at Norwich before he joined Town. Blues keeper-coach Malcolm Webster worked with Norwich’s glovesmen earlier in his career.
Former Town full-back David Wright is now the U18s coach at Norwich, where he had a spell on loan as a player before his time at Portman Road.
With the game being shown live on TV in the UK and around the world, Blues fans are meeting up at venues across the globe to watch.
Sunday’s referee is David Coote, who has shown 103 yellow cards and four red in 26 games so far this season.
The Nottinghamshire-based official was in charge of the Portman Road derby early last season which ended 1-1. He booked no home players and one Canary as well as ruling out what replays showed to be Douglas’s perfectly good goal, his linesman having wrongly flagged for offside.
Coote’s most recent Town game was the 1-0 defeat at Wolves in December in which he booked Webster, Connolly and Waghorn and one home player.
Prior to that he was the man in the middle for November’s 2-2 draw at Hull City, booking Blues - Knudsen, Webster, Connolly, Garner and Ward - as well as three home players. He also awarded the Blues a penalty but McGoldrick’s spot-kick was saved.
Before that he refereed the 1-0 home defeat to Sheffield Wednesday in April last year in which he booked only Skuse.
He also took charge of the December 2016 2-1 victory over Bristol City at Portman Road, yellow-carding Brett Pitman, Tom Lawrence and two of the visitors.
He refereed the 2-2 FA Cup draw at home to Portsmouth in January 2016, in which he cautioned Skuse and one visiting player, and the 0-0 home draw with Cardiff in October 2015 in which he booked eight players, Tommy Smith, Skuse and Kevin Bru as well as five Bluebirds.
Coote officiated in the 2-2 draw with Brentford on the opening day of 2015/16 when he booked only Bees' midfielder Jota.
Earlier, he refereed the 3-1 defeat at Cardiff in October 2014, in which he yellow-carded Tyrone Mings and two home players, the 2-1 defeat at Reading on the opening day of the 2013/14 season and the 3-1 home loss to Wigan later that campaign.
During the season prior to that he took control of Town’s 2-1 defeat away against the Tigers which turned out to be Paul Jewell’s penultimate game in charge of the Blues and the 3-0 home victory over Millwall.
Squad from: Bialkowski, M Crowe, Hayes, Spence, Iorfa, Kenlock, Chambers (c), Knudsen, Carter-Vickers, Webster, Skuse, Connolly, Hyam, Bru, Gleeson, Ward, Celina, Carayol, Waghorn, Garner, McGoldrick, Sears, Drinan.
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