The Ipswich Derby Should Be the Easiest Game All Season - Notes for Norwich
Friday, 8th Feb 2019 10:00 by HarryFromBath
HarryFromBath assesses the mood in the opposition camp ahead of Sunday’s East Anglian derby at Carrow Road by delving into their forums.
“Hear the roar of the Yellow and Green!”, “Going up as champions is completely in our hands, let’s just go get it. It’s still very exciting”, “Anything can happen in football, but automatic promotion has to be odds-on this year. I would love this squad to have a crack at the top level. It could be glorious.”
“Every derby game is a mix of excitement and gut-wrenching tension but this one is extra important because win it and we stay top and it will also mean 10 years with no derby wins for Ipswich. For Ipswich this will be their last chance to get something out of the season aside from simple survival.”
“I’m sure the Ipswich game will take care of itself.” The Canaries head into Sunday’s derby top of the Championship table and ahead of Leeds on goal difference after the weekend’s fixtures. Confidence is very high having just beaten their closest challengers at Elland Road. “We have a lot to be happy about.”
“What a squad of players we have”, “It’s not often a season like this comes around and even less so when it was completely unexpected at the start”, “This team moved on to another level at Leeds. It is the best timing ahead of a tricky fixture”, “We’re reaching the nitty-gritty part of the season now.”
“Up to Christmas we were very much a second-half team, but in recent fixtures we have come out of the blocks full-force and got a good lead, but often looked clueless as to what to do next”, “We are at our best attacking with a high tempo, but we seem reluctant to do this once we take the lead.”
“As fans we should try not to get too hamstrung by the pressure. Relax and enjoy it. We are playing a brand of football most haven’t witnessed before and it’s so enjoyable to watch”, “Enjoy the season. It has just been brilliant so far and we are playing the best football I have seen us play in 50 years.”
“When Farke first joined us, he talked of the team playing a kind of football we would all enjoy. This has now come to fruition”, “It has been such a turnaround considering how many labelled him to be a busted flush in the middle of last season”, “He is just working absolute wonders so far this season.”
“Credit to the board for sticking with him when many of our fans had written him off.” The 42-year-old replaced Alex Neil in May 2017 and led the side to a mid-table finish in his first season in charge. Fans were divided last summer over whether he would be the man to deliver progress on the pitch.
“Farke has put together a great blend of foreign senior and exciting homegrown players, and they are certainly meeting their potential”, “Given that Farke has promoted Jamal Lewis, Max Aarons and has also given Todd Cantwell his first start, it is really clear that he will back talented youngsters.”
“Farke is a pragmatic coach who will always put out his most effective team”, “He has got them all confident in their ability. They are not panicking and they are comfortable with his ‘keep or rob the opposition of possession’ style of football. They are relaxed and confident to try to play the ball out.”
“If you cast you mind back to the late comebacks this season, Farke got high praise for his tactical or formation changes having an impact”, “When we are behind, he is willing to roll the dice and change things, but when we narrowly lead, he often doesn’t change anything until something goes wrong.”
Football the Daniel Farke Way
“We have many gifted players capable of playing the Farke way”, “We look fantastic going forward, some of the football we are playing is like silk”, “Teams can end up chasing shadows when we are in full flow”, “What has really struck me is the great technical ability and close control of our players.”
“It’s like watching Barcelona at times.” Farke has developed a style of play based around technique and mobility as opposed to physical dominance. The emphasis is on high-tempo, adventurous, quick passing football and on winning and using “quality possession” in more dangerous areas of the pitch.
“Going forward we’re awesome. Defensively we’re a shambles”, “We ship far too many goals to be automatic promotion contenders”, “If we don’t keep clean sheets we will not go up, it is that simple. All this nonsense people spout about scoring more than the opposition only works until you don’t.”
“We are currently without three key players, Alexander Tettey, Timm Klose and Moritz Leitner. As well as their replacements are filling in, the return of these three will strengthen the team”, “Having those three waiting in the wings has to be a great unspoken motivator for the lads on the pitch.”
“The magnificent eleven.” Farke named an unchanged starting XI (above) for the last three games. A huge bonus has been the way centre-backs Christoph Zimmermann and Ben Godfrey and midfielders Tom Trybull and Mario Vrancic have all contributed well in the absence of Klose, Tettey and Leitner.
“One clean sheet in 11, we are still shipping goals”, “The defence has come in for criticism all of the time”, “The way in which Max Aarons and Jamal Lewis push forward means the two centre-backs are basically doing the job of a back three, and this will always make us vulnerable to conceding goals.”
Canaries have been full of praise for the industry and attacking intent of both full-backs. Godfrey and Zimmermann are good ball-playing centre-halves who suit Farke’s playing style but the experience of Klose would be welcomed back. Keeper Tim Krul unnerves many with his poor handling of crosses.
“Tom Trybull and Mario Vrancic deserve to continue their partnership”, “Our midfield is looking like an embarrassment of riches given the quality they have both shown”, “Leitner certainly covers more ground than Vrancic, but Vrancic makes many more tackles and decisive interceptions than Leitner.”
Trybull is viewed as a more mobile and athletic version of Tettey in the holding midfield role, but the dynamic passing and high-tempo play of Vrancic, who scored two and assisted a third goal at Leeds, has given Farke a selection headache, with the injured Leitner on the fringes of a return to the team.
On the flanks, Emiliano Buendia is ball-playing wideman who will take touches of the ball and try to trick his way past players. Onel Hernandez is a more traditional winger who will attack full-backs and use pace as a weapon. Hernandez has been criticised more often for failing to protect his full-back.
The relocation of left-sided Marco Stiepermann to a central role behind the strikers has played a big part in the transformation this season. He adds height, a physical presence and an out ball to deeper players while linking with attackers. His style of play is similar to third-choice striker Dennis Srbeny.
“Teemu Pukki and Jordan Rhodes are two different types of striker and both are good on their day.” Rhodes’s finishing has been used as a weapon off the bench, whereas Pukki’s wider attacking game is based on his pressing and harrying along with his ability to stretch defences and create spaces.
Leeds 1 – 3 Norwich
“Oh, my days. Dreamland, it’s an absolute thrashing”, “A phenomenal all-round performance from beginning to end. I am beginning to dare to dream”, “A high-pressure, high-stakes atmosphere and we picked them apart without giving them a sniff”, “Watch out Ipswich, we’re coming for you too.”
Mario Vrancic’s deflected freekick put the visitors ahead of five minutes and Teemu Pukki doubled the lead on 35 from close range. Vrancic made it 3-0 on 78 with another deflected shot from a cross before Leeds substitute Patrick Bamford headed in a stoppage-time consolation for the home side.
“I am so proud of how we played today”, “Leeds had a good 30-minute spell where they cut through our midfield too easily and we couldn’t keep the ball. It was a hell of a game, hard fought every inch of the way”, “I just hope we can play like that again on Sunday and leave Ipswich in further trouble.”
The final XI (above) included regular replacements Jordan Rhodes (for Pukki) and Kenny McLean (for Buendia). Alexander Tettey also replaced Trybull in the holding role. Other regular substitutes have included striker Dennis Srbeny and youth product Todd Cantwell, who has featured in a wider role.
Norwich 2 – 2 Sheffield United
“Very disappointing, but fair play to a stubborn Blades side, I suppose”, “It should have been a win but it was an entertaining game which had four goals once again”, “They are a good side but when we went for it, they looked totally outclassed”, “A draw isn’t a disaster but it feels like a defeat.”
Onel Hernandez finished off a good move on 11 minutes to put Norwich ahead before Billy Sharp levelled from the spot in first half stoppage time. City regained the lead on 56 through Pukki's 17th goal of the campaign before Sharp equalised again courtesy of a back-post header on 79 minutes.
“Our defending was shocking and we should have made changes five minutes sooner”, “We need to tighten up for the run-in. Our defending has to improve if we want to go up”, “With all the whinging on here and finding fault with an acceptable result, there’s almost an air of entitlement creeping in.”
Norwich 3 – 1 Birmingham
“A great result to take into two important games”, “The first half was mustard, what a great squad of players we have”, “Our pace ripped Birmingham apart and our two full-backs played well down the wings”, “We play beautiful football and score goals but it was great to see us managing out a game.”
This game was decided by four goals which came within 12 minutes. Pukki slotted in a Lewis cross on 13 for City’s opener but Che Adams smashed in an equaliser a minute later. Vrancic’s low shot on 22 restored the hosts’ lead and Trybull finally made it 3-1 with a free header at a corner on 25 minutes.
“It was an odd game to watch, Birmingham were a counter-attacking team and they seemed not too bothered to press in the second half, almost like they were winning. They should have been left with eight men on the pitch”, “A terrific win, a great first half and we were so professional in the second.”
Goalkeepers and Defenders
“Tim Krul is a decent shot-stopper but anything in the box and the guy is clueless.” The 30-year-old one-time Newcastle keeper “should concentrate on doing his job, like claiming a cross every once in a while, and helping out his centre-backs by having control over his six-yard box. He can be woeful.”
Tim Krul (Norwich City) v Jonathan Walters
“Opposition managers have long identified Krul’s faults by now. The protection our backline usually gives him means that he only has to make reaction saves and he’s brilliant at these”, “He was superb in the atmosphere at Leeds, making some great saves”, “He also flapped at high balls three times.”
“Max Aarons is a superb outlet going forward with the pace and engine to cover back.” The 19-year-old Luton and Norwich youth product “is a right-back who is equally good attacking and defending. He’s a marauding full-back who is also able to cope well with wingers who have blistering pace.”
“I don’t think anyone foresaw the emergence of Aarons to this degree”, “It feels like he has played for years and he’s getting better”, “He occasionally tries to play his way out of trouble when he should hoof it away”, “He’s a teenage man of steel who gets kicked up in the air and carries on regardless.”
“Jamal Lewis is a left-footed full-back with pace who works the flanks well up and down and is full of energy.” The 21-year-old youth product and Northern Ireland international “seems a shoo-in at left-back at the moment”, “He is just as effective as a winger, cutting in from the left to shoot on goal.”
“We all know about Lewis’s aggressive work rate”, “He makes us much less open to the swift counter-attack. He quickly gets back to help us keep our defensive shape”, “We can be terribly exposed when he loses the ball after bombing forward as Hernandez isn’t the best when tracking back or covering.”
“I love the way Christoph Zimmermann brings the ball out so many times.” The 26-year-old former Borussia Dortmund II centre-back “turns and runs with the ball and looks pretty comfortable. I was worried about his lack of pace last season but he has grown and become such an assured defender.”
“Zimmermann is surprisingly poor in the air for such a big bloke. He completely lost Billy Sharp for Sheffield United’s second goal”. “He’s largely dependable if unspectacular. His physicality is an asset but he’s not the most mobile and he plays better with the calming influence of Klose next to him.”
“Grant Hanley is more likely to launch the ball forward than pass it.” The 27-year-old ex-Newcastle centre-back “is strong in the air and a good organiser. He gives us a bit more solidity at set pieces”, “I would like to see him back in defence just to see if his English experience makes any difference.”
“Hanley badly fluffed his chances with his early red card in the Portsmouth FA Cup game last month. He’s the one centre-back who may not get another chance”, “He really doesn’t improve our options when it comes to playing out from the back”, “He copes well with aerial threats but lacks mobility.”
“Ben Godfrey is a perfect centre-back for the way we play.” The 21-year-old ex-York man played on loan for ex-Blues boss Paul Hurst at Shrewsbury last season. “He’s quick, powerful and has good footballing skills”, “He is mobile and very comfortable on the ball, which are essential for our passing game to work.”
“We have become leaky since Godfrey was introduced into the defence”, “He reads the game well and shows plenty of grit and strength alongside his pace and distribution” “He can get caught out by wily strikers”, “He was off the pace for Birmingham’s goal, too deep and playing Che Adams onside.”
“Without Timm Klose we look vulnerable to crosses.” The 30-year-old ex-Wolfsburg centre-half has been recovering from a knee injury. “His experience is vital and his ability to read the game makes up for his lack of pace”, “His positioning is good. He wins so many headers and chips in with goals.”
“Klose’s ability to carry the ball into our opponents’ half changed our style so much for the better. It allowed us to play much further up the pitch”, “He can handle himself against physical teams. He is such a threat at corners and makes runs that create chances”, “He will come back in when he is fit.”
“If loving Alexander Tettey is wrong, I don’t want to be right.” The 32-year-old one-time Rosenborg man “is the glue that holds us together”, “One factor in playing him is his physicality. He is taller and more athletic. He gives midfield more solidity as it can be a little easy to play through without him.”
Alexander Tettey (Norwich City) v Stephen Gleeson
“No disrespect to Tettey but as a passer of the ball he isn’t in the class of the other midfielders”, “He would have struggled for pace at Leeds”, “His discipline, positioning and tenacity are essential if we have to go toe-to-toe”, “Our steel in midfield, intercepting to win the ball and looking very assured.”
“Kenny McLean is a good player up against opponents with an energetic midfield.” The 27-year-old ex-Aberdeen man “gives us something a bit different in midfield with his industry and mobility”, “I like his quick movement and his eye for a forward pass”, “A handy player who always looks busy.”
“McLean himself has said that he isn’t as comfortable in a deeper role and his best position is as a number 10. I don’t see him as a physical player at all”, “He’s an obvious candidate to bring on after around 70 minutes”, “He loves bombing on or operating as a playmaker but he’s really not a sitter.”
“Tom Trybull is a capable replacement for Tettey.” The 25-year-old one-time Werder Bremen man “doesn’t have the brilliant vision to pick a pass but he is more solid defensively”, “He acts as a foil to more creative and energetic midfield partners but isn’t as good at moving the ball forward quickly.”
“I would like Trybull to start against that shower, he has been exemplary since returning to the team. He’s more adept at doing the high press than Tettey but I do question how much of a screen he can offer defensively”, “With him in the side, we seem to lose the attacking impetus that Leitner brings.”
Moritz Leitner (Norwich City) celebrates
“Moritz Leitner is the link to everything we do, from receiving the ball from Krul to playing a killer pass or creating scoring opportunities. He seems to be everywhere and we have nobody like him”, “He is better at controlling the tempo of a game and we are much more comfortable in possession.”
“Leitner was really upping his defensive game before his injury.” The 26-year-old one-time Borussia Dortmund and Lazio deep-lying playmaker has resumed training after picking up an ankle injury and may feature at some point on Sunday. “A Vrancic-Leitner partnership might well be the best option.”
“Vrancic was everywhere at Leeds, tracking back, winning tackles and making things happen.” The 29-year-old ex-Darmstadt man “doesn’t go missing. He has the best tackle and interception numbers in the side as well as a sublime touch and a great left foot”, “He was unplayable in the Leeds game.”
“Farke can’t drop Vrancic. The man has been on fire lately and has been involved in everything good that we have been doing”, “He fought for every ball and scored two at Leeds. His deflected shot fell to Pukki for the third goal”, “He’s a very understated character which is similar to the way he plays.”
“Stiepermann caused Leeds headaches all game. He gave us a constant outlet, pressed and harassed, held up the play and made some lovely passes. He was directly involved in two goals and he showed leadership and confidence. The importance of his physicality and awkward skill is underestimated.”
Marco Stiepermann (Norwich City) v Martyn Waghorn
Farke switched the 27-year-old ex-Bochum man from a left-back to an attacking midfield role. “His game as a number 10 is much more based around strength and an aerial presence”, “He often will push forward in advance of the striker which leaves the wingers and full-backs space to move into.”
Wingers and Wide Midfielders
“Todd Cantwell initially looked lightweight but he is growing in confidence and showing real quality.” The 20-year-old youth product “brings a lot to the team in terms of his unselfish running off the ball which creates space”, “He is much better than Hernandez at tracking back when playing on the left.”
“There’s a lot to admire about Cantwell. For a young inexperienced player, he has done well and he will become a good all-action midfielder, but he doesn’t have a big enough goal threat or a physical presence to merit a starting place”, “Out wide he has more time and he is less likely to be bullied.”
“It’s noticeable how we lose a lot of momentum when Emiliano Buendia goes off.” The 22-year-old summer signing from Getafe “has the heart of a lion. He makes lovely passes and touches, but his energy, pressing and tackling lift him to the next level”, “He’s clever at winning dangerous freekicks.”
“Buendia missed five games this season and we lost three of them”, “His aggressive creativity takes us forward and his recovery tackles are a bonus for a forward player”, “Just watch him running with the ball past defenders. Sometimes he will bring it around them and sometimes it is through them.”
“Hernandez is a direct winger with dynamic pace.” The 25-year-old ex-Eintracht Braunschweig man “will burn past players. He’s brilliant at always having the confidence to be direct and take him man on”, “Get him running at his full-back and it will both create chances and get the crowd fired up.”
“Hernandez does not drift inside and demand the ball in the same way as Buendia”, “We lack pace without him. He has the ability to scare the pants off defenders coupled with the strength to power his way through”, “He has been defensively weak but at Leeds he was much better tracking back.”
“Dennis Srbeny holds the ball up well and adds height to our frontline.” The 24-year-old former Paderborn man “is no Zlatan Ibrahimovic but he’s strong and pretty good in the air”, “He has been doing well coming off the bench in recent weeks”, “Sir Benny looks better every time he plays.”
“Srbeny’s technical ability is pretty good. He has a good touch and can carry the ball and he has not looked too bad linking play just behind the frontline”, “He’s not as clinical as Pukki but his goals per minute ratio is oddly better than him”, “He’s a real handful with a surprising amount of gawky skill.”
“Rhodes is a versatile supersub.” The 28-year-old former Town striker is on a season-long loan from Sheffield Wednesday and has appeared from the bench in the last seven Norwich league games. “He doesn’t have a fantastic all-round game and never has done, but he really comes alive in the box.”
Jordan Rhodes (Norwich City)
“Jordan Rhodes has fallen in love with our club”, “What a player to bring on. His composure in front of goal is superb. He has a cool head when it comes to slotting them in”, “Opposition defences are frightened of him. He presents a different challenge with legs and minds are tiring late on in games.”
“Pukki gives us a dimension that Rhodes doesn’t with his running and ability to stretch a defence.” The 28-year-old ex-Celtic frontman “is as sharp as a knife, combining clever movement and lethal finishing”, “He uses his tremendous pace so well to find gaps and gives the whole team confidence.”
Jon Nolan v Teemu Pukki (Norwich City)
“Pukki is a real menace up front. His reaction time is quicker than a particle accelerator”, “He is a proper workhorse who will defend and harry high up the pitch. He’s highly effective and plays with no fuss and a smile on his face”, “He hits his shots away before defenders have a chance to react.”
Canaries’ Thoughts on Paul Lambert…
“Celebrate that one of Norwich’s best managers is now successfully keeping Ipswich at the bottom of the league. Paul Lambert is one of us”, “Thankfully, he isn't.” There has been plenty of discussion around the reception our manager should receive. Many Canaries are wary of stoking any flames.
“There will be a large anti-Lambert contingent singing particular songs that have swirled around Carrow Road for the last few weeks and in a sense, who can blame them?”, “What there is no doubt of is that the atmosphere, despite the stupid start time, will be pumped up and should be electric.”
Paul Lambert - Former Norwich Manager
“Booing him will only inspire him on Sunday. He clearly loves playing devil's advocate so don't let him have it. He's not a threat and he's no longer relevant. Don't give him the pleasure of thinking he is”, “He is now just a mercenary taking advantage of a car crash of a football club.”
“I like the ‘Paul Lambert is one of us’ narrative as it doesn't allow him to revel in the pantomime villain role which he uses to deflect the focus away from his players, while at the same time it would really get under the skin of the Ipswich fans, especially if we are a couple of goals clear at the time!”
“If he had dragged Ipswich out of the bottom three, I expect the reaction would be quite vocal. As it is, his star has waned and I expect most rational fans to treat him with the indifference he deserves”, “We had a good run under him but he left and that’s it. I neither expect him to booed or cheered.”
“He has done nothing to leave any other impression than he was glad to be somewhere else, so let's help him go back to where he's been before - League One”, “The best way is to beat Ipswich by a handsome score and performance to show how much this side is better than the team of 2010/11.”
How Ipswich Will Approach the Game…
“It's clear that we'll be on the front foot. What is less obvious is how Ipswich will approach it. If they sit off us and let us have the ball, we will run rings around them. Teams cause us the most problems when they take the game to us and press us high up the pitch, as our defence is our weakest link.”
“I fear the only way Ipswich will be able to compete on Sunday will be by becoming physical. We can expect it to be a physical challenge. I hope we get a competent referee who will clamp down on any dirty play Ipswich may bring. I can only see our season disrupted by injuries to our creative players.”
“Owing to the recent history of this fixture and their current situation, kicking us off the park maybe their only option to compete”, In fairness to Paul Lambert, I can’t recall any of his clubs playing like cloggers”, “I’m not sure they will be as physical as people expect. Perhaps that is their problem?”
The Wary School of Thought…
“The footballing gods may have decreed that Lambert will return and beat us next Sunday and that is my concern. If we can overcome that and put them to the sword, there should be lots of stick dished out to them afterwards but not before”, “Take nothing for granted and hope we don't screw it up.”
“I hope we don't underestimate them on Sunday. On paper it looks like we should destroy them but it can be hard playing bottom teams. They will raise their game so just hope the players don't think it will be easy. This potentially could be a banana skin and ideally we would kill game off by half time.”
“Proceed with extreme caution. This is one of those odds-on situations that have that can easily go pear-shaped. It happens every day somewhere in sport, so don't think a win is a certainty because pride is usually followed by a fall and all good or bad runs come to an end when least expected.”
“In terms of quality, form and mental fortitude, the gulf between the sides is huge. Even bigger than it was in the play-off campaign, when we beat them three times. Of course, football can have a habit of throwing up upsets but I am really struggling to make an argument for one happening here.”
“Our unbeaten run against them has to end eventually, but personally I think they have missed their chance to do that in the last four fixtures. I think their players and fans may feel that way too”, “We won't destroy them but our game management has come on a bundle and we won’t risk injuries.”
The More Optimistic School of Thought…
“I have never gone into a derby more confident than I am this one”, “Regardless of the fact that Ipswich will attempt to turn it into a clog-fest, I think we'll thump them”, “I wouldn’t swap playing them on Sunday for any other opposition. They are the worst team in the league by a distance.”
“I'm not sure if there is that much concern this year. We have far more important things on our mind and whatever the result it looks nailed on that one of us won’t be in the Championship next season. The 'form goes out of the window' idea is absolute nonsense, as the last decade has demonstrated.”
“I'm struggling to see how they can come up with any game plan to get a result. We are fitter, better organised, we think quicker and as individual players how many of their side would get into our team? I watched their highlights clips against Sheffield Wednesday and they were simply woeful.”
“Yes, we could go down to 10 men à la Hanley [who was sent off in January’s Portsmouth FA Cup game], that aside I can't see a logical reason to fear the result. As has been said, we've got other priorities to aim for this season. The Ipswich derby game is just a bump in the road.”
“We are all aware of the possibilities, but this is probably the sorriest bunch of failures Ipswich have dragged up the A140 in any City fan's time”, “On paper next week's game should be stopped by the ref before a ball is kicked but we all know how football has a funny habit of biting you on the bum.”
“Absolutely buzzing for Sunday”, “It will be a typical derby week so far for me, meandering between quietly confident and that little pessimistic voice”, “I will be a bag of nerves on the day until we're 3-0 up”, “Why are the club and fans saying it's a big game? It should be the easiest game all season.”
The busiest Canaries forum is The Pink ‘Un, while additional comments can be found on the cheerfully coloured Wrath of the Barclay. Norwich City highlights are available on the Multimedia menu as well as Ipswich Town and for the whole of the Championship and other EFL leagues.
Photo: Action Images
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