Ipswich Town boss’ play-off experience could be key against Norwich City, says Bryan Hamilton

Bryan Hamilton

Bryan Hamilton

Former Ipswich Town favourite Bryan Hamilton believes Mick McCarthy’s nous could prove to be the Blues’ joker in the pack, ahead of their play-off showdown with Norwich City.

McCarthy has lost five of six play-off scenarios he has managed in, including semi-final defeats with Millwall, Sunderland and Wolves in the second-tier.

Neil, 33, meanwhile, won promotion to the Scottish top flight, via the play-offs, with Hamilton Academicals last season. The Scot has revitalised the Canaries’ season and almost won automatic promotion, but Hamilton says history will count for nothing in the nerviest of end-of-season lotteries.

“The key could be Mick McCarthy,” said Hamilton.

“Alex Neil has done a really super job at Norwich, got the team going and, for a time, it looked as though they might go straight up.

“I am not being detrimental to Alex but the Championship is a new experience, having come from the Scottish Premiership.

“Mick has vast experience, been in this situation before, and has got the know-how.

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“That might be crucial.”

Norwich finished third in the regular season, eight points in front of the sixth-placed Blues, and did the double over Town this season.

Hamilton, left, thinks the Canaries have the edge in terms of quality, but has urged Town fans not to focus on previous meetings.

“Norwich will be disappointed not to have gone straight up and all of a sudden the teams find themselves in a three-game league,” he added.

“Norwich still have Premier League DNA but it’s a knock-out situation now and is as much about the mental side of the game as anything. From an Ipswich point-of-view all that matters is how they perform, if they play as well as they can, you can’t ask for anything more.”

Hamilton, who played and was assistant manager at Portman Road and also had a spell in charge of the Canaries, added: “I like Norwich as a club and have a lot of friends there and have great respect for the club.

“But I have lived and worked in Ipswich, have some great memories and have a terrific relationship with Town.

“On this occasion I want Ipswich to do well but I would have liked to have seen Norwich go up automatically.”

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