Northstander: McGoldrick and Celina HAVE to start in derby clash with Norwich

David McGoldrick with a first half chance saved at Sheffield United. Picture: PAGEPIX LTD

David McGoldrick with a first half chance saved at Sheffield United. Picture: PAGEPIX LTD - Credit: Pagepix Ltd

Next Sunday’s derby now assumes even great significance after Saturday’s disappointing result at Bramall Lane, writes Northstander Terry Hunt.

Of course, every Town fan wants to experience victory over our local rivals for the first time in more than eight years. That goes without saying.

But there is a bigger picture. The Norwich match could also act as a real litmus test for the rest of this season.

So far, there’s a clear pattern. We can beat the strugglers without too much trouble, but consistently come up short against better teams. If that continues it will mean only one thing - mid-table mediocrity.

If we lose against the improving Canaries, then the slide to our favourite position of 15th will begin to look inevitable. That, in turn, could see the return of negativity among the supporters and more games when the stadium is half-full. Tedium, in other words.

The much more positive scenario is this. We beat Norwich, the team gains belief that it can compete against the better teams, and we fans are given a huge boost of confidence. That, in turn, could act as a springboard to something rather better than another mid-table finish.

I’m not daft enough to think we have enough quality to make the top six. But a realistic aspiration would be that we bounce around between seventh and tenth place, with a tantalising chance of squeezing into the play-offs. Oh, and playing entertaining football into the bargain.

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For me, and I suspect for many diehard supporters, that would represent acceptable progress and value for our season ticket money.

What I don’t want to see is the ultra-pragmatic McCarthy reverting to type, picking teams and tactics with the prime purpose of nullifying the opposition. That simply hands over the initiative and, when we concede a goal, we don’t seem able to respond.

That’s precisely that happened at Sheffield United. Next Sunday, I want our manager to pick a team which really takes the game to Norwich, straight from the kick-off. That means both McGoldrick and Celina have to start.

Let’s give it a good go. A repeat of the thrilling 3-2 victory the last time we beat our friends from over the border, back in 2009, would do nicely.