Win at Carrow Road? Yes we can! – Former Ipswich Town fans’ favourite Matt Holland

Former Ipswich Town skipper Matt Holland. Photo: Simon Parker

Former Ipswich Town skipper Matt Holland. Photo: Simon Parker - Credit: Archant

Win at Carrow Road? Yes we can!

That’s the message from former Ipswich Town skipper Matt Holland ahead of the Blues’ Championship play-off semi-final second leg against Norwich City on Saturday (12.15pm ko).

The bigger budget Canaries are now even bigger favourites to win the tie after their 1-1 draw at Portman Road, but Holland believes Mick McCarthy’s men can finish the job against the odds.

“I see absolutely no reason why we can’t go to Norwich and get the victory,” said the former fans’ favourite, who made more than 250 appearances for Town, leading them to play-off glory in 2000 off the back of three successive semi-final disappointments.

“I suppose Norwich will feel they have got home advantage and that they’ll have the crowd behind them. To be honest, I don’t see being at home second as that much of an advantage though. Sometimes that can bring unwanted added pressure.

“We’ve seen so many strange results in this division over the course of the season.

“Anyone can go anywhere and win.

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“Just look at the last weekend of the season when Reading won 3-0 at Derby. Norwich have lost at home against Brentford (2-1), Wigan (1-0) and Middlesbrough (1-0) this calendar year, while Ipswich have won at Watford (1-0).

“In the Championship teams are well equipped to go away from home, be organised, defend, fill the midfield and play counter-attacking football. Ipswich have certainly got that ability.

“In fact, they have probably got the ideal manager for this scenario in Mick. He’s tactically aware and sets his teams up to be hard to beat. This squad has got players that are willing to put their bodies on the line, who will do the unselfish jobs, cover their team mates and generally work hard for the cause.”

Holland, who captained the Republic of Ireland under McCarthy’s management, continued: “The bottom line is that anyone who comes up against a Mick McCarthy team knows they have been in a game. He’s a manager that doesn’t accept any passengers.

“I always found that supporters recognised – win, lose or draw – when they’d seen their side put everything in to a game. That’s why there is such a good relationship between the players and the supporters at the moment. They appreciate that these players leave nothing on the field.”

He added: “I have played in play-off semi-finals and they are nerve-wracking. I have played in derby matches and they are always nerve-wracking. I can’t imagine what a combination of the two is like.

“The atmosphere will be hostile, but I think there’s enough experience in that Ipswich dressing room to deal with all of that.”