City defender Gary Doherty was in little mood to spare anyone's blushes ahead of this weekend's derby fixture – particularly when it came to events in South Yorkshire last weekend.
The manner of that 3-2 defeat to Sheffield Wednesday and, in particular, the way in which the Canaries folded like the proverbial pack of cards after the interval having played such a blinding hand before it, has merely heightened the air of unease surrounding Sunday's derby clash.
Depending on how managerless Charlton Athletic fare at Bloomfield Road some 24 hours earlier, it could only be goal difference that will be keeping Norwich out of the bottom three by the time Ipswich roll into view.
And with away trips to fellow strugglers Watford and high-flying Reading to follow thereafter, City's season is very much on a tight-rope. One more wobble now and the Norfolk club could be plunging headlong in the direction of Leeds and Leicester City.
Now is not the time for faint-hearts. Nor is it the time for any repeat of the Jeckyll and Hyde antics on offer against Wednesday. Not against the neighbours.
“We've got to get ourselves right,” said the 28-year-old.
“We were desperate in the second-half against Sheffield Wednesday. To go from world-beaters to rubbish in the second-half is disappointing – and something that we've got to put right.”
Mental strength, he warned, is going to be everything.
“Especially in a derby – think so,” said the one-time Republic of Ireland international, likely to find himself centre stage come Sunday lunchtime after Dejan Stefanovic's season-log injury and John Kennedy's one-match ban.
Which might have prompted a wry smile given that he was out of sight and out of mind for most of the summer and early autumn following that ankle injury sustained on the first tour game of Sweden. My, how the world has changed in four short months…
“You know that the cameras are going to be there, it's going to be a full house – so, yes, there's going to be a lot of pressure on us. Especially as we're not playing well at the minute.
“But that's up to us to get the fans on our side early in the game.”
Given where everyone north of the border is right now, repeats of last season's meeting when the Canaries found themselves 2-0 down at the break are best avoided. Particularly when there is no 'Tiny' Taylor on hand to launch a second-half fight-back.
Doherty – a veteran of both Spurs-Arsenal and Luton-Watford occasions – is well aware of what it all means.
“It's not just Norwich-Ipswich – any derby is massive for the fans,” he said. “But you do feel it on the pitch – that it means so much to everyone associated with Norwich. But, hopefully, like I say we can go out there and put on a great performance and get a great result.
“Because the feel-good factor if we win will be massive – and we've got two tough away games after that but we'll go into them with plenty of confidence is we get the right result on Sunday. It's just going to be massive.”
The fact that Ipswich are off in the distance both Championship place and Championship points-wise makes no difference, he said.
“I don't think so – not on derby day. I think if we win we can go five points behind them – and they've had a decent enough start. So it won't be all doom and gloom if we get the right result on Sunday – we'll go five points behind them and we'll be looking up the table again.”
Whether or not he leads the side outon Sunday is smething else for Glenn Roeder to ponder – the armband could yet go to Sammy Clingan. Or, indeed, Darel Russell. As Roeder himself admitted, there was the story of City's season in the fact that the club had already had four different skippers this year with the first, Mark Fotheringham, likely to find himself back on the bench again.
“It's been a great honour,” said Doherty. “And I've really enjoyed it. But the two lads that have been ahead of me [Russell and Fotheringham] in terms of captains are out of the team at the minute, so it's been nice for me to wear the armband.
“I've obviously thought about it [leading Norwich out on derby day] but it's something at the back of my mind at the minute. It's all about the result on Sunday. Not about who's captain.
“The game's so massive for us given the poor form we're in, it's just about making sure that we get everything right and put some smiles on people's faces.”
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