Ahead of the least anticipated derby of all time (at least from north of the border), Anita has been chatting to Harry Wainwright from the famous TWTD.co.uk. They successfully managed *not* to fall out, until Anita let slip a careless “expect”… then it simmered. 🙂
Hi Harry, I’m a season ticket holder for NCFC and have been for approximately 20 years. How long have you subjected yourself to watching our rivals? Have you been a lifelong fan or did you turn to the dark side?
HW: I was a 12-year-old growing up in Dublin when Ipswich came into my world. Most Irish fans adopt Manchester United, Liverpool and Celtic as cult religions more than football teams, but here was a small provincial team tearing it up in Europe and I just connected with what they were doing. It was Bobby Robson’s first UEFA Cup run and the more I got to know of him as a man, the more the bond with the club was secured. It has been said hundreds of times, but Bobby showed that you could achieve great things and be a decent person at the same time and I do miss him.
You lost Mick McCarthy after a six-year reign at Ipswich town, I’ve always rated him as a manager and believe he did his best with the resources available to him in that time.
I was thrilled when Mick took over with his Irish connections. His genius was stopping opponents from playing their games and nullifying their threats, and his eye for small tactical insights in press conferences made for compelling listening. His patriarchal and collegiate style of management meant that you either bought into his way of doing things or you were excluded as a player.
Unfortunately, this extended to the supporters as well, and Canaries at Carrow Road last season will have enjoyed watching their keenest rivals’ fans and manager tearing into each other. Tactically Mick was spot on that day, as his approach had nullified City’s midfield threat spearheaded by James Maddison, but you have to bring your fans with you and this ultimately sealed Mick’s fate.
The other catalyst was the pragmatic football we witnessed. There wasn’t a lot of fantasy on display in Mick’s time at the club and this wore fans down. Most came from individuals like Bersant Celina, Tom Lawrence and Ryan Fraser, all of whom were loanees. There was a brilliant parallel with Chris Hughton on a pre-match blog this week. Outsiders ask why did City get rid of a very successful manager results-wise, and you will say that you didn’t have to suffer the football.
Both teams have had a lot of coming and going’s in the summer transfer market and we have both lost some of our key players. How did you feel about losing David McGoldrick and Martyn Waghorn? They certainly scored you some goals, something we’ve lacked for two seasons. Have you replaced well?
The last time Norwich have had to play without parachute payments was in Paul Lambert’s 2010/11 promotion season. The financial landscape in the Championship back then was unrecognizable compared to the one in which we are now playing. Parachute money has vastly inflated and ambitious owners such as at Derby, Forest and Sheffield Wednesday have thrown money unsuccessfully at promotion dashes. I mention this because Town fans have seen this accelerating change season-by-season and grown accustomed to it. I would worry about City’s “self-funding model” if this is what the owners are proposing.
We have both had to sell this summer. City have a very decent squad and have washed the expensive mistakes out of the balance sheet, whereas we are doing something similar to Paul Lambert back in 2009, picking up talented lower-league prospects and knitting them into a team. Daniel Farke is now into his second year and this presents City fans with issues, whereas for Town supporters the concern is the blinding pace of change we have seen under Paul Hurst.
We see the departures of McGoldrick and Waghorn differently. McGoldrick was brilliant in his first season as a foil for Daryl Murphy and he helped keep us up. He was a highly intelligent but injury-prone striker and when the injuries became a recurring pattern it was time for an amicable departure. Waghorn was a great ambassador and Town fans wish him well – none would begrudge him his personally lucrative move. We weren’t sure if he would perfectly fit Hurst’s model of football and his departure funded three additions so it was something we could live with. That said, our finishing is currently an issue which is being monitored.
With the FA rulings of homegrown players do Ipswich have a good youth system? We have recruited well and our Under-23s are certainly reaping the benefits this will hopefully bring players through to our first-team.
With the likes of Andre Dozzell, Luke Woolfenden, Tristan Nydam, Ben Folami and Flynn Downes coming through, we have a decent group of youngsters who will all have decent professional careers. It was a myth that Mick preferred old warhorses to the kids, as Tyrone Mings was one example of a raw prospect who blossomed in under his guidance. What we have not produced is a conveyor belt of youngsters who can attract high-money Premier League bids like Maddison and the Murphys. This is something I envy, especially with Jamal Lewis Max, Aarons and Todd Cantwell about to break into the team or having just done so.
So under new manager, Paul Hurst have you seen a different style in play or are you still looking skyward for the hoof-ball that bypassed your midfield? Will we notice a different Town?
Yes, you will. Mick’s model was based on frustrating opponents whereas Hurst’s is built around width, energy and taking the game to the opposition. We have seen it working in spells and it is easy on the eye, but it has not fully clicked for sustained periods at Championship level. There was plenty of anger among Town fans over a Daily Mail piece this week which misrepresented our start to the campaign with the lazy ‘careful what you wish for’ cliche for getting rid of Mick. We all recognized at the start of the season that this team would take time to gel and we are comfortable with this.
One downside has been the deterioration of our defending this season, especially at set-pieces. The sight of Jordan Rhodes, Timm Klose and Grant Hanley ambling into the penalty area for the first Norwich corner or attacking free-kick will raise the blood pressure of a few Town fans. Our wider defending in open play has generally been solid, but set-piece defending has been lamentable.
With City bucking the trend and adopting the Sporting Director and Head Coach model, do Evans and Hurst have a plan for the future of Ipswich Town?
This will never happen under Marcus Evans. When he first bought the club, he had all the hallmarks of the vain naive owner, bringing in a big-name manager in Roy Keane, blowing money on ill-considered signings and breaking the link with the youth system. In the decade that followed his understanding of the game has grown. He had a close working relationship with Mick (who I reckon taught him a lot) and it will be the same with Hurst. One of Evans’s great strengths is his long-term approach to the game and he won’t be swayed by an early-season wobble if he can see elements of the bigger picture falling into place.
I’m expecting NCFC to finish yet again mid-table with all the changes made. Farke now finally has his team and needs to start making his system work.
Some of our fans are not so patient though and are calling for a change in management already this season. We expect to be and feel we are a Premier League team (speak for yourself – Ed), it must be more frustrating to be an Ipswich fan, surely…
I am struggling to find the right formula of words for any Norwich fans “expecting and feeling that they are a Premier League team”, as you put it. Given the financial model and current rate of progress on the field, I wouldn’t bet on this happening this season. I go back to my earlier point about the money – operating without parachute payments in this league now is vastly tougher than it was 10 years ago.
This is not a dig, it is just an honest reading of a Championship littered with wealthier and more ambitious clubs than either of us are right now. That said, I do think that both our clubs are going about making progress the right way. The Brentford, Sheffield United and Millwall models of incremental progress under a clear playing style are the only way to compete in a ridiculously unbalanced competition if you aren’t prepared to throw money at a promotion run.
It’s not frustrating being an Ipswich fan in this context. Many of us would like to see Evans give our new manager some additional capital for this season as he beds in his new team, but he has consistently put in annual seven-figure investments to keep us competitive. Having owners unwilling or incapable of doing this would make me far more nervous…
How do you see your season going?
We will probably see each other next season. We will be happy with a lower mid-table finish and seeing our new-look side bedded in with a year of Championship experience for them under their belt. Paul Hurst is also cutting his teeth at this level so expectations are guarded. Despite our quiet start we’re not anxious – yet – about the campaign falling apart. There is enough good about the side for things to start coming together and you do need to be pretty woeful as a rule to get relegated.
How are the attendances? Are you only going to fill the ground on Derby day again? (City fans made many a jibe of the amounts of empty blue seats last season!)
It’s never good for attendances when the manager plays dull football and starts berating his own supporters, and Mick did play a part in the wider loss of faith among the fans last season. He said that things had “gone stale” earlier this month and this was reflected in our home crowds. Hurst’s arrival saw an increase in season-ticket sales and attendances will increase if our campaign kick-starts. It will also be interesting to see how City’s attendances track if you settle into life as a mid-table Championship team.
As I’ve mentioned the Derby, it could be 10 years of NCFC being unbeaten by your team this season. I did a poll on Twitter and 53% said they would be happy to take a loss against the Blues if we got promoted. With both teams struggling so far, how do you think you will fare against us on Sunday?
I predicted a 1-0 City win at Portman Road last season and can’t see this trend changing, although City’s confidence could be an issue if we score first. Both teams are capable of fine 20-minute spells, and both will probably have one of these in the game, but neither side can sustain this and this will make for a close game with the balance of play ebbing and flowing.
The key difference is that you have a more potent attacking platform and not just in Rhodes. Hernandez, Pukki and Buendia all make me very nervous, and then there are those set-pieces… Given that you are struggling defensively I can see us (probably Knudsen again!) finding the net, so objectively I can’t see past a 2-1 Norwich win.
Thanks again to Harry for joining us. Let’s hope football is the real winner 😉
Last time out, Bielsa’s Leeds ‘marched on together’ and right through Farke’s men. The pragmatists, who let heads rule hearts, saw it coming and we now have a three-way tie at the top of the prediction league. City’s ‘yoof’ sprang a midweek surprise at Cardiff to restore some pride and optimism heading into the derby but will that result seduce our panel into thinking that our dominance over the neighbours is set to continue or will the streak finally coming to an end?
Penney predicts: Let’s turn ten into eleven. No reason why we can’t. I’m going 1-1, whether my least favourite binner Cole Skuse plays or not.
Andy assumes: We’re playing against the law of averages as much as we are the rabble in blue. 1-0 Ipswich. Sorry.
Gaz (G) guesses: It has to happen eventually. Don’t take this the wrong way but using the theory of reverse psychology, I’m going for a 2-0 Ipswich.
Cookie concludes: Two misfiring and mediocre teams playing for whatever ‘pride’ lies from ‘The ‘battle at the basement’. Neither side will bear the thought of losing so I expect a cagey 1-1 draw.
Stew suspects: Whatever XI Daniel Farke puts out, they’ll be determined to emulate the Cardiff performance. The record continues… 2-1 to City.
The oppo’s opinion: I can’t see past a 2-1 Norwich.
Siri says: ‘Let me think…’ 3-0 Ipswich.
Join the ‘fun’ by adding your predictions in the comments below. We’re keeping track and will publish a regular monthly update with the ‘full league table’.