Town Out to Upset the Form Book and End Long Wait for Derby Glory
Friday, 8th Feb 2019 13:00
Town visit manager Paul Lambert’s former club Norwich City on Sunday looking to upset the form book and for their first derby victory in almost 10 years (Sky Sports Main Event/Football from 11.30am, kick-off midday).
The Blues go into the game bottom of the Championship, while the Canaries sit 39 points ahead of them at the top, although they could be down to third after Friday and Saturday’s fixtures.
Town last beat Norwich at Portman Road in April 2009 when Jim Magilton’s last game in charge ended in a 3-2 win. The Blues were most recently victorious at Carrow Road in February 2006 when Joe Royle’s Danny Haynes-inspired team won 2-1.
Despite the clubs’ currently contrasting situations, Lambert says he plans to take the game to the home side, dismissing the suggestion that it will be difficult to balance imposing the style he is trying to instil in his team and counter-acting the opposition’s threat.
“I don’t have a balancing act, I just go for it,” he insisted. “That’s what I’m going to do, I’m just going to go for it, that’s my balancing act.
“We’ll try everything we can to win, but I’ll go there and try and impose our own game on Norwich.
“It’s going to be difficult, I know it’s difficult, I know that. But I’d rather go and give it a go than not.”
He says his message to his players on the training field hasn’t altered going into the match: “No, it hasn’t. You play my way, play the club’s way. It’s not changed, it’s exactly the same message as it’s always been.”
How is he going to try to bridge what currently appears to be a gulf between the sides? “All we can do is try and take three points from them. It’ll make a helluva difference for us and if Norwich win it they get another three points to get out the division. We have to try and win.”
Lambert says he’s a firm believer in the old adage that form goes out of the window when it comes to derbies: “Yes, definitely. I’ve been involved in too many, so I know how it works.”
Has Norwich’s success this season surprised the man who was their manager between 2009 and 2012 and who took them up two divisions?
“I don’t know because I’ve not really followed them,” he added. “I don’t know major, major things about them.
“I know they’re doing well but they are where they are. They’ve been playing well, but let’s see what happens.”
Asked whether Norwich’s success this season illustrates what can be achieved in the Championship with astute recruitment and bringing youngsters through from academies, he pointed to the financial advantage of a number of years in the Premier League.
“Norwich have been in the Premier League up and down so they’ve had incredible finances," he said.
“This club hasn’t been in the Premier League for 17 years, so it puts you on the back foot. The Premier League gives you that opening, the secret is to stay in the Premier League where finances are great as everybody sees.
“We’re miles behind that, that’s the reality of it. But we’ll go there with so much heart and so much enthusiasm to go and try and win. A difficult game, but any given game you can win.”
Norwich’s big danger up front is Finnish international striker Teemu Pukki, who has netted 19 goals in all competitions in his first season at Carrow Road.
“He’s a big threat, yes,” Lambert reflected. “But I’ve got my own trust in my own team. Let them worry about us. I’m not going to sit and say we’re going to worry about this guy, worry about that guy. I’ve got my own faith in my own team.
“I’ll play my way and play the way we play. You respect Norwich as an opponent, but as I said before, I’ll go there to try and win.”
What’s the key to beating the Canaries on Sunday? “You need a bit of luck, we’ll need that. We’ll need some good play, we’ll need to fight. The usual things that you need to do for any game. I think that’s important.
“Nobody knows if it’s going to be good enough, but we’ll be ready for it. I know we’ll be ready for it.”
Looking back to September’s 1-1 draw at Portman Road, a game the Blues probably should have won, most observers would have been surprised to see either side now among the challengers at the top of the division five months on.
“But that’s football, football is a momentum thing,” Lambert continued. “It can change. If you get a wee bit of momentum it’s amazing what can happen, and that’s what happens. And we’ve not had the momentum, Norwich have had the momentum.”
Does Lambert believe Town can get the momentum they require to lift themselves away from their highly perilous current predicament? “Yes, because we’ve been so close to it a lot of times. I sit and think how we’ve not come away with anything from some games. But that’s what happens.
"As I've said, the club lost a helluva lot of goals out of the side, a lot of experience out of the side in the summer and went a different route, which it’s entitled to do.
“The Championship’s a really tough league. That doesn’t bother me, it’s Sunday it actually happens.”
Lambert is likely to include a number of youngsters in his squad for Sunday but he says he’s not overly concerned about their lack of experience and doesn’t want to rein them in.
“There are a few lads that have experienced a derby before,” he reflected. “The younger lads may be a bit different but as long as they keep that enthusiasm for their game.
“As I said, I’m not going to curtail them, they know what’s going to come at them and we have to be ready for it.”
Town’s results are yet to improve significantly since the January signings were made but Lambert says his new recruits are nearing match fitness.
“They’re getting there,” he added. “Some of them haven’t played for a really long time, but they’re getting there.
“One thing I can never point the finger at them about is they’re giving us everything, even the loan lads, they’re giving us absolutely everything and that’s the pleasing thing.
“But you can never make it up in only a few weeks. It’s a difficult thing to do. But the actual commitment from them, I can’t ask any more.”
He continued: “I think whatever system I play, whatever team I play, I’m just going to go for it and people have to be ready to come with us and be ready for it.
“The support will be up for it, that’s for sure. The atmosphere will be great, we’re just going to go for it, that’s what we’re going to try and do.
“I’m coming to win, that’s the bottom line. I might not do it, but we’re going to have a right good go.”
Lambert seems likely to stick with Bartosz Bialkowski in goal and will be hoping that his first-choice central defensive pairing, skipper Luke Chambers and veteran James Collins, will be fit having missed the Sheffield Wednesday match with foot and hamstring injuries respectively. If not, Matthew Pennington and Toto Nsiala will continue.
James Bree will be at right-back with Myles Kenlock and Callum Elder vying for the left-back role with Lambert appearing to have ruled out Jonas Knudsen, scorer of home and away derby goals back in 2016/17, returning to the fold despite his requested January exit having not materialised.
In midfield, Cole Skuse is likely to take up the deeper role with Flynn Downes also set to keep his place. Lambert has said he is weighing-up whether to start Teddy Bishop or use the 22-year-old from the bench, while Trevoh Chalobah and Jon Nolan are other options.
The Blues boss will have to choose between Collin Quaner and Will Keane for the central striking role, both of them having been more impressive from the bench than when starting in the last two matches.
The on-loan Huddersfield man may well get the nod with Alan Judge on the left and Freddie Sears on the right.
Norwich head coach Daniel Farke is wary of the unpredictable nature of derby matches.
“A derby game always has to be played without judging the table because these games are always full of passion and emotion. You can't predict how such a game will develop,” he told the Canaries official site.
“We are greedy and highly motivated, but it will be a difficult game. It's a big chance for Ipswich to change the whole mood in one game.”
Reflecting on Lambert’s return to Carrow Road, he added: “I can't judge the relationship of our fans with Paul Lambert, but I am full of respect for him. He was responsible for unbelievable success for promotion.
“I will always be full of respect for coaches who have achieved success in their career. If you work in the Premier League, the Championship or non-league, it's always unbelievably difficult to deliver results with consistency and Paul did that so it's a sign of quality.
“Paul is still a hero at Dortmund as well, there are some good memories so I am looking forward to meeting him tomorrow.
“I won't worry about [Town first-team coach and former Norwich U23s coach Matt Gill coming back]. I worked quite closely with him when he was U23s coach but it's not like he knows any secrets or anything. It will be good to see some familiar faces.”
Farke says his squad’s preparations for the match have gone well: “The week has been really good so far on the training pitch. We are focused and it helps that it's such a big game so we are not too relaxed [after the 3-1 win at Leeds last weekend]. We have to prove it on Sunday.
“It's important that we play our game and stick to our plan. We have to make it our game and then we have a big chance to win the points.
“For Ipswich it's a good chance to change the mood and be back in the relegation battle. They will try to annoy us and break our rhythm, so it's important we handle this intensity and aggressiveness, but also keep cool to bring our topics on the pitch. We have to play with a flame in the heart, but cool in the head.
“Each and every derby match is different. We want to stay unbeaten and continue without a loss, but I'm sure Ipswich will be motivated for success as well. We are prepared for different scenarios and we want to win the points.”
Injury-wise, midfielder Todd Cantwell and centre-half Ben Godfrey suffered knocks in training but are expected to be fine, while another midfielder, Tom Trybull, suffered a knock at Leeds but has trained and will be available.
Midfielder Moritz Leitner is not yet ready for a first-team return after an ankle injury, while central defender Timm Klose is due to return to training next week.
Historically, the teams are very closely matched, Town winning 40 (38 in the league), losing 40 (34) and drawing 22 (19).
The 5-1 at Portman Road in 2011 under Lambert’s management 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 September, Gwion Edwards fired the Blues into a second-half lead but Moritz Leitner hit an equaliser for the Canaries as the game ended 1-1.
Edwards gave the Blues the lead with a deflected shot from the edge of the box on 57 but Leitner levelled with a low shot for the visitors 14 minutes later.
In February last year at Carrow Road, only a 95th minute equaliser from Timm Klose prevented the Blues from ending their wait for derby glory as Town and Norwich drew 1-1, skipper Chambers having given the visitors an 89th minute lead.
Chambers looked set to win it for the Blues with a header from a Martyn Waghorn corner but Klose nodded in Grant Hanley's cross seconds from time to save the game for the home side.
Town are without a win in 11 derbies - six defeats, five 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 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 and is the only Town player to have previously been in a derby-winning squad.
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.
Blues boss Lambert was manager at Carrow Road between August 2009 and June 2012, a total of 142 matches, winning 70, drawing 35 and losing 37. During his time with the Canaries he took them to Football League One title in 2009/10, and second place in the Championship the following season.
Currently injured 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.
First-team coach Matt Gill was at Norwich under Lambert, having joined them in July 2009. The midfielder moved on in June 2011 having made only seven starts and nine sub appearances.
Blues academy coach Alan Lee had a brief spell on loan at Carrow Road and played for the Canaries in the 2009 Portman Road derby.
Striker Jordan Rhodes joined Norwich on loan from Sheffield Wednesday in the summer. The former Kesgrave High School pupil came through the academy ranks at Playford Road having moved to the Blues’ youth set-up in March 2005 for £5,000 from Barnsley after his father Andy joined the club as goalkeeper-coach.
The striker made 10 sub appearances and scored one goal for the Town first team before being controversially sold to Huddersfield by then-manager Roy Keane in the summer of 2009 for a fee which, after top-ups and a sell-on following his £8 million move to Blackburn Rovers in August 2012, climbed to just over £1 million.
During his time at Ewood Park, Rhodes scored six goals in six games against the Blues, while he failed to find the net as Town drew 0-0 with his next club Middlesbrough at the Riverside in April 2016, in four games against the Blues for the Owls and in the Portman Road derby in September.
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, while Steve McGavin, the Canaries' head of academy recruitment, was employed in a similar role at Town's academy until 2017 and is a former Blues youth player.
Sunday’s referee will be Peter Bankes from Merseyside, who has shown 117 yellow cards and four red in 27 games so far this season.
Bankes’s most recent Town match was the 1-1 draw at Bolton in January last year in which he booked Dominic Iorfa and home striker Gary Madine.
Before that he was in charge of the 2-0 home win against Reading the previous month in which he booked Jonas Knudsen, Martyn Waghorn and Adam Webster as well as four Royals.
He also refereed the 2-0 home defeat to Nottingham Forest in November 2016 in which he booked David McGoldrick and two visiting players.
Prior to that he was in charge of the 0-0 draw at Wolves three months earlier in which one of his linesmen disallowed what replays showed was a perfectly good Daryl Murphy goal.
He also awarded the home side a penalty after Webster had fouled Jon Dadi Bodvarsson, but Bialkowski saved the Icelander’s spotkick, and booked seven players, five of them from Town: Knudsen, Chambers, Christophe Berra, Teddy Bishop and sub Bru.
Bankes, who is in his fourth season as an EFL referee, had officiated in two Town games before that one, January 2016’s 0-0 draw at Burnley, in which he cautioned two Clarets, and the 2-2 home draw with Bristol City in September 2015 in which he booked three of the visitors.
Squad from: Gerken, Bialkowski, Bree, Pennington, Spence, Kenlock, Elder, Chambers (c), Collins, Nsiala, Skuse, Chalobah, Downes, Dozzell, Nolan, Bishop, Edwards, Dawkins, Judge, Sears, Keane, Quaner, Jackson, Harrison.
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