That I know not what the hell I’m talking about is clear to anyone who reads my MFW musings. Football predictions are not my thing and to have only just beaten random-score-generating Siri in last season’s score prediction table tells the story far better than I can.
There’s also my horror at Gareth Southgate’s decision to play Declan Rice and Jordan Henderson in the same midfield against a team ranked 60 in the world – a decision that actually worked out okay.
But if anyone still needs convincing, there was the piece I wrote at the start of last season where I was struggling with relentless toing and froing between both sides of the Norfolk/Suffolk border.
You know… the old, you’ve never won f**k all (oh how I love that double negative), which gets countered with we have more fans than you, and then opens up a ding-dong that usually lasts for the rest of the day and includes references to stadium-size, trophy cabinets, ‘mind-the-gap’, ‘rent-free’, family relationships and the number of digits on one’s hand.
Some love it, others (like me) hate it, the grown-ups remain indifferent, but most agree it can become very very tiring.
I digress though. The offending sentence in the piece, when looking ahead to Ipswich’s chances in season 2018/19, went something like…
“… as much as it pains me to say it, I happen to think Ipswich will do okay this season. Lots of City fans have gone big on the bookies’ and pundits’ view that they’re destined for a season of struggle but free of the limitations of McCarthy-ball and with a young, forward-thinking manager.”
Not content with that load of nonsense, I doubled-down with this little nugget…
“… my view is a squad of some quality loanees and good players from League One can more than hold its own in the Championship if it’s well managed.”
The only mitigation I can offer is that later in the piece I prophetically made reference to them taking the ‘Lambert route’ a full 80-days before the ruddy-faced one entered the blue planet, and I did say well-managed – a phrase clearly not in the lexicon of Paul Hurst.
Amidst the usual waffle and banality, the point I was trying to make is that, for all the squabbling and insults that ping back and forth cross-border, our two clubs are not too dissimilar. In fact, I went as far as to say, there are few other clubs in the Football League who share more similarities.
I still believe this.
My call for some ground rules to be established before embarking on any given period of Norwich/Ipswich banter obviously (and quite rightly) went unheeded but for the record, they were thus…
- Ipswich have won more trophies in Norwich in their history
- Norwich get bigger crowds than Ipswich
- Ipswich have a rich owner but are not a wealthy club
- Norwich don’t have wealthy owners and are a self-funded club
- Whoever finishes higher after 46 games is the better side
The last bullet point was obviously written based on both teams competing in the same division, and so on that basis, despite both operating on similarly tight budgets, City were the better team last season, although it didn’t necessarily look like it on September 2, 2018, when we drew 1-1.
But, it’s some leap of faith for any Ipswich supporter to suggest they were better than City in a season where we finished 1st and they finished 24th.
Of course, with City now in the top tier and Town in the third, there will be ample opportunity for the North Stand chorus to unleash their old favourite … singing the blues, when Ipswich win and Norwich lose.
It’s a given. They will.
And they’ll lap up every single second of us stuttering and faltering against those for whom the Premier League is home. For us right now it feels like a holiday cottage.
That’s not to say every day is going to be like last Saturday, when West Ham went all Man City on us, because I still believe that with some tactical tweaks there is a combination of players in this squad good enough to keep us in this league.
Equally, there will be more when Ipswich win and Norwich lose afternoons, for which we’ll pay the price. And you know what, I kind of get it. I don’t blame them. And if the roles were reversed I’m almost certain we too would be giving it large.
Given the bragging rights have been ours for so long now – for a whole generation of Norwich fans derby day defeat is merely a concept – it’s hardly surprising that those down south are going to make capital out of every hint of adversity. That’s how it works.
Time to take it on the chin.
If we’d been subject to those glorious going up, going down choruses of last season, we too would be fairly keen to reclaim some ground at every given opportunity. So let’s not be too hard on them, even if there is clear water between our respective divisions.
We enjoyed League One. They’re allowed to.
And whether we like it or not, they’ve made a good start and in the form of the James Norwood, Paul Lambert – or “Lambo” has he’s been christened – has possibly uncovered a 2019 version of Grant Holt. He has a long way to go of course before he reaches Holty levels of greatness but his ability to get the Junior Blues excited with his witty quips and odd goal have worked so far. Time will tell.
The desperate wish emanating from down Portman Road way, is that come next August both teams will again be lining up in the same division, and those who in blue who like to over-think the embryonic league tables will be heartened by what they see. But it’s early days and one really cr@p afternoon in E20 doesn’t mean we’re already preparing to return whence we came.
But Ipswich ripping it up in League One with 5-0 wins over teams of 18-year-old trainees (for example) shouldn’t automatically send us into defensive mode, where we head straight for our own box of favourite retorts.
Let them enjoy it. Don’t feel bad. They still have Cole Skuse and Mr Fist Pump.