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Kings of Anglia Issue 10 Magazine Offer

Stuart Watson's Sunday Verdict: Sometimes you have to go backwards in order to truly move forwards – Norwich City are the perfect example of that

PUBLISHED: 20:50 10 February 2019 | UPDATED: 20:50 10 February 2019

Flynn Downes faces off with Max Aarons as tempers flare again at Carrow Road Picture Pagepix

Flynn Downes faces off with Max Aarons as tempers flare again at Carrow Road Picture Pagepix

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Ipswich Town lost 3-0 at rivals Norwich City in a fiery East Anglian derby yesterday. STUART WATSON reflects.

Members of the two benches get involved in a fracas just before half-time at Norwich Picture PagepixMembers of the two benches get involved in a fracas just before half-time at Norwich Picture Pagepix

On the face of it, seeing your manager be restrained by a policeman is not something to be celebrated.

And on the face of it, losing 3-0 at your bitter rivals is not something you can take any pride from.

Yet there was, strangely, much about events at Carrow Road today from which Ipswich Town fans can take heart.

To truly understand that you need context.

Paul Lambert is in the Directors box after being sent off  just before half-time at Norwich Picture PagepixPaul Lambert is in the Directors box after being sent off just before half-time at Norwich Picture Pagepix

One year ago, almost to the day, Blues fans and manager were fighting each other on enemy territory.

MORE: ‘Do I regret it? No I don’t’ – Paul Lambert on his East Anglian derby brawl and a war of words with Farke

Mick McCarthy shoved one of his own players out the way in order to deliver an expletive-loaded up yours gesture in the direction of the away end.

How embarrassing that incident, a culmination of months of tit-for-tat barbs, happened right under the noses of the nearest and not so dearest.

Tempers flare up just before the final whistle at Carrow Road Picture PagepixTempers flare up just before the final whistle at Carrow Road Picture Pagepix

Yesterday, Paul Lambert was shoving a member of the Canaries’ backroom staff in the very same technical area.

If there’s going to be fighting, it may as well be with the rest of the world rather than in-house.

MORE: Watch the brawl that led to Paul Lambert being sent off on dramatic return to Norwich with Ipswich

How ironic that it’s taken a former Norwich manager – arguably their greatest ever – to get the blue blood really pumping again.

Luke Chambers urges his team-mates on at Carrow Road Picture PagepixLuke Chambers urges his team-mates on at Carrow Road Picture Pagepix

And for those that say Lambert’s actions were not befitting of the club, come on, get real. We’re not talking about punches getting thrown here.

This is competitive sport. The testosterone is meant to be flowing. This was simply the leader setting an example for his troops.

To hear the defiant noise from the away end and witness the fire among the away players in the second half was uplifting.

MORE: Ratings: Judge the stand-out Ipswich player but Blues struggle to contain Norwich in final third

Paul Lambert is held back as tempers flare up just before half-time at Carrow Road Picture PagepixPaul Lambert is held back as tempers flare up just before half-time at Carrow Road Picture Pagepix

And to focus on the fighting would be to forget about the football.

Ipswich played some good stuff. They ended the game with more possession and having produced more shots.

Yes, I know, there’s only one stat that matters. Three goals conceded and zero scored.

MORE: Stu says: Five observations following Ipswich Town’s 3-0 defeat at Norwich City

PP018 Norwich v Ipswich7PP018 Norwich v Ipswich7

Same old story. Play well for spells, but don’t really create enough, don’t take chances when they come and find a way to concede at least twice.

That’s why Town are heading for League One.

But Norwich are the perfect example of how sometimes you have to go backwards in order to truly move forwards in life.

The obvious reference is them dropping into the third-tier before building a powerful positive momentum under Lambert to secure back-to-back promotions.

Town fans at Carrow Road Picture PagepixTown fans at Carrow Road Picture Pagepix

But more recently, and just as relevant, were their struggles with a style change.

MORE: ‘We didn’t want to come here and be a team of shrinking violets’ - Lambert proud of his players in Norwich loss

Daniel Farke’s refusal to bend on his pass-out-from-the-back principles were being seriously questioned after an error-strewn 4-0 defeat at Millwall last August. Now look at them.

There have been some flat displays under Lambert, no doubt. In general, though, the Blues have been more fun to watch.

Flynn Downes faces off with Max Aarons as tempers flare again at Carrow Road Picture PagepixFlynn Downes faces off with Max Aarons as tempers flare again at Carrow Road Picture Pagepix

It’s going to be exciting to see if he can build on that with a summer window and full pre-season.

MORE: ‘We didn’t have the quality but they showed fight and that’s all us fans ask for’ - Town fans react to Norwich defeat

Would Ipswich be in this perilous position had they not rolled the dice last summer? Highly unlikely. Would they still be tediously treading water and suffering death by a thousand cuts? Probably.

Reverting to ultra-pragmatism would have been the easy thing to do in a bid to kick the losing habit, but the chances of constant relapse would have been strong.

Paul Lambert is held back as tempers flare up just before half-time at Carrow Road Picture PagepixPaul Lambert is held back as tempers flare up just before half-time at Carrow Road Picture Pagepix

Doing it this way, the hard way, will take longer but provide a far better chance of genuine long-term growth.

Hold your nerve and trust in the process.

You’ve got fight for the right to party. In more ways than one.

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