North Stander: ‘This is the worst Norwich team in years, I believe we’ll beat them’

Ipswich Manager Paul Hurst watching the warm-up at Hillsborough Picture Pagepix

Ipswich Manager Paul Hurst watching the warm-up at Hillsborough Picture Pagepix - Credit: Pagepix Ltd

One of football’s oldest sayings is that luck evens itself out over time. If that’s really the case, then we’re due a huge dollop of good fortune pretty soon. Hopefully it will arrive next Sunday when the Canaries come to Portman Road!

Ipswich Manager Paul Hurst watching the warm-up at Hillsborough Picture Pagepix

Ipswich Manager Paul Hurst watching the warm-up at Hillsborough Picture Pagepix - Credit: Pagepix Ltd

If the red card against Villa was highly debatable, then the one on Saturday was utterly ridiculous. As many have already said, if well timed tackles like that warrant dismissals, then no game will finish with 22 players on the pitch.

That ludicrous decision probably cost us a point, and the anger of Paul Hurst is perfectly understandable. When things are going against you...

But we mustn’t let the red card blind us to the very real issues facing Hurst’s new team.

It is still August, only five games in, and there is absolutely no cause for panic. But there are problems which need addressing pretty urgently before we get too much further into the season.

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Let’s start at the back. We’re alarmingly vulnerable at set-pieces, with the vast majority of the goals we’ve conceded coming from corners or free-kicks. I don’t know whether the problems are organisational, or a case of individuals switching off at the vital moment. A combination of the two, I suspect.

But whatever it is, it’s a fatal weakness in the Championship. Most teams won’t have the ability to cut us open with sublime passing, but they’ll be licking their lips if they think we’re soft touches at set-pieces.

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Staying with the defence, Bart has come back from the World Cup looking much less secure than in previous seasons. We desperately need him to rediscover his best form.

Then there are problems at the other end of the pitch. With the departures of Waghorn, Garner, McGoldrick and Celina, we’ve lost a load of goals from the squad. It’s very similar to the summer when Bent, Kuqi and Miller left the club.

Back then, we tried to replace them with Nicky Forster and Sam Parkin. Not a resounding success. This time round, it’s Ellis Harrison and Kayden Jackson. Both of them are trying to prove themselves at Championship level, and we all wish them well.

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But, just at the moment, we look painfully goal-shy. We create very few clear-cut chances. Ideally, a proven Championship goalscorer will walk through the doors at Portman Road this week. Oh, and another central defender as well.

If all of the above sounds rather negative, it’s not meant to. I remain a huge believer in the Paul Hurst revolution. Of course it’s a gamble. Taking a bunch of lower league players and giving them a chance to make their way at a higher level carries a significant element of risk.

Yes, it could all go horribly wrong. There’s always the possibility that individuals will find the step up too challenging, and the team just won’t come together as an effective unit.

But we must have confidence in our new, straight-talking manager and how exciting it will be when – and I use that word deliberately – most of the arrivals do make the grade. Don’t forget, we’ve played only five games...

The fact that we’re bottom of the table and are still looking for our first win might not seem the ideal way to be preparing for a visit from our friends from across the border. But in a slightly weird way, I think it sets it up nicely.

As I said at the beginning, surely Lady Luck will smile on us before too long, hopefully starting next Sunday. This is the worst Norwich team for years, and they were taken apart by Leeds on Saturday. Their confidence will be low and their manager is under pressure.

Wouldn’t it be good to go into the international break on the back of our first derby win for years, out of the bottom three, and above the Canaries in the table? I for one believe it will happen – with or without the assistance of Lady Luck.

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