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
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Ipswich Town lost 3-0 at rivals Norwich City in a fiery East Anglian derby yesterday. STUART WATSON reflects.
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.
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One year ago, almost to the day, Blues fans and manager were fighting each other on enemy territory.
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.
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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.
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.
How ironic that it’s taken a former Norwich manager – arguably their greatest ever – to get the blue blood really pumping again.
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.
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.
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.
But more recently, and just as relevant, were their struggles with a style change.
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.
It’s going to be exciting to see if he can build on that with a summer window and full pre-season.
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.
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.