George Burley: Players must keep their cool amidst red-hot East Anglian derby day atmosphere

Former Town manager George Burley is among those who has paid tribute to Ted Phillips. Picture: CONT

Former Town manager George Burley is among those who has paid tribute to Ted Phillips. Picture: CONTRIBUTED - Credit: Contributed

Former Ipswich Town boss George Burley says both players and supporters need to keep their cool before, during and after Sunday’s East Anglian derby against Norwich City.

To add intensity to an already fierce regional rivalry, both sides occupy top-six spots heading in to the Championship’s home straight – Town still one point better off following Tuesday night’s 4-2 home win over Birmingham City.

Burley was the last Blues manager to lead the club to promotion to the Premier League, the Play-Off triumph of 1999/00 overshadowing the fact that Town drew 0-0 at Carrow Road prior to Christmas and then lost 2-0 in the reverse fixture in the middle of May.

“Like everyone else, I’m really looking forward to it,” said Burley, speaking ahead of Sunday’s televised fixture (Sky Sports, 2.05pm).

“Derby games are always special, but even more so when both teams are challenging at the top of the division. It gives it added spice.

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“It’s important to say though that, regardless of the result on Sunday, it will still be all to play for. I know supporters want the bragging rights, but the team that gets promoted will be the ones with the most to shout about.”

He continued: “It will have an intense feel given the circumstances, there will be a red-hot atmosphere and neither manager will have to gee the players up.

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“It’s so important that the players keep their cool. You have to stay calm and disciplined because one moment of magic or one brief lapse in concentration could prove to be the difference.”

While Town were beating Birmingham 4-2 on Tuesday night, Freddie Sears scoring an impressive two goals, Norwich were racking up their fifth straight win under new boss Alex Neil, coming from behind to triumph 2-1 at Blackburn.

“I don’t think either team can be seen as favourites,” said Burley. “Norwich have home advantage, but Ipswich had a good win on Tuesday night and are the team that has been higher in the league for most of the season.

“Freddie Sears looked a special player on Tuesday night. That sort of performance will give the whole team a lift going in to this game and may just give Ipswich the edge actually.”

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