In another of our Coaching Diaries series, respected young coach Anthony Hudson analyses matches and training methods, reporting on his experiences and observations of the professional game. Anthony became the youngest professional football manager in the United States when taking Second Division side Real Maryland FC to the 2009 Playoffs and was nominated for Coach of the Year at just 27 years old. He has written for several coaching publications, holds a UEFA ‘A’ License (English FA) and is currently spending time at Tottenham Hotspur under the watchful eye of Harry Redknapp.

Here Anthony, who was present as Norwich City met Ipswich Town in the East Anglian derby, analyses the game and brings us a tactical breakdown of the match. 

Npower Championship
Norwich City vs Ipswich Town

28th November, 2010
1.30pm Kick Off
Carrow Road
Norwich executing a game plan and playing to their strengths…

A record crowd watched this very entertaining derby game at Carrow Road, with both teams having some ‘big’ players in key areas. As the game went on I felt confident that Norwich had a real solid game plan and played to their strengths; I enjoyed watching them play. With an all-round performance, I felt there were three main key factors that gave the home side the edge on the day: First, a centre forward willing and able to work both sides of the ball with quality; second, quality in the midfield and third, confidence and trust to play football, especially out from the back.


Norwich City (Yellow):

1. Ruddy 2. Martin 20. Barnett
22.  Ward 19.Lappin 7. Crofts
12. Lansbury 11. Surman 15. Fox
16. C Martin 9. Holt (captain)

Ipswich Town (Blue):

21. Fulop 35. Zuiverloon 5. Delaney
20. Smith 48. O’Dea 7. Edwards
8. Norris (captain) 6. Leadbitter 36. Colback
10. Scotland 16. Priskin

Norwich – Positive Football

Norwich striker Grant Holt must be a dream and nightmare for defenders – a dream if he is in your team and a nightmare if he’s not. What Holt did very well (which Ipswich’s Tamas Priskin fell short of doing), was to always make himself available to his defenders when they were under pressure. He ran (non-stop) from one side to the other; if a ball was played long into the wide areas, he’d be arriving, getting his body in the way, holding the ball up, bringing others into play, turning defenders or winning free kicks. And when his team didn’t have the ball he’d be chasing down defenders putting them under pressure and forcing mistakes. He was a huge threat and great to watch: Norwich fans must love Holt.

At the back, Leon Barnett (right sided centre back) preferred to knock it long, which was a success as he had Holt up there to make it ‘stick’ (and got support quickly). The left sided centre back Elliot Ward, was more comfortable on the ball and liked to play it out into the midfield, had a good touch, a good left foot and looked composed.

Going into the game I was interested to see how Norwich were going to deal with Jason Scotland (who drops in behind Priskin and causes problems in the areas between the midfield and defenders), but it was Norwich’s midfield that needed attention from Ipswich. They played some great football, and on-loan Arsenal midfielder Henri Lansbury was a real handful and extremely effective. Andrew Surman out on the left was a danger, especially when he came inside, at times playing as a Number 10. He had good feet, vision, was clever, a good passer and not someone you want left unmarked in that Number 10 area.

Main threats to Ipswich in the first half

Holt: In possession: Always making himself available up front.
Holding ball up, winning free kicks, bringing others into play,
running in behind defenders. Out of possession: Always
pressing defenders on the ball. No time to settle on ball.
Everything rushed, forcing mistakes.

Lansbury No.12 – Positive play. He found space
well and all his passing was forward, in between
  Ipswich’s lines. Surman No.11 – Coming inside and in
behind two centre midfielders. Difficult to pick up
and had real quality on ball. Always looks to turn
and face Ipswich’s back four. This was a real danger.

A simple (but huge) thing, and very clear to see; when Norwich won the ball they got a lot of bodies forward to support the man on the ball much quicker and higher than when Ipswich went forward. This allowed them to play football, with purpose, getting forward and creating problems for Ipswich.

When Ipswich went down the right hand side, play seemed to break down a lot, with Gianni Zoiverloon (No.35) either playing it long (without quality – at times due to pressure from Holt) into Priskin, most of the time into space which Norwich defenders dealt with; or in the air to Priskin who had little support with him. His right midfielder Carlos Edwards (No.7), tended to support the ball off his right back very deep. This kept Ipswich’s play in possession very tight/deep and made it easy to defend against.

Giving the ball away and looking disjointed

Right back – No.35 Zuiverloon passing was long into
Priskin who had little support. Main problem was
Edwards No.7 dropping too deep to receive ball. A
couple of times both he and right back were marked
by one defender. Too easy for Norwich to defend against.
This gave possession to Norwich far too easily and they
used the ball very well.

Norwich went 1-0 up. Long ball forward, no danger for the Ipswich centre back, but Holt came flying at him, winning the ball and tucking it away well. The ball should have been cleared sooner and even after this mistake the left back needed to come across quicker to support. 

One area Ipswich were dangerous from was set pieces, and after a succession of conceded free kicks Norwich allowed Priskin a free header and then Damien Delaney headed home for Ipswich, 1-1. Norwich again took the lead, 2-1; a great through ball from Lansbury outside the box for Holt to run on to, with Surman also creating havoc (coming inside) in the build-up. 


Norwich’s second goal summed up an area that was lacking with Ipswich throughout this game, especially at the back. Several times Norwich would win a header in the Ipswich box, piling pressure on to the goalkeeper. But what was disappointing was that after each bit of poor defending, nothing was said and players round the ball just got on with it. A great example was Holt winning a free header in the box; not one person said anything. It needed to be pinned down, so the next time, whoever was marking the Norwich man is going to work extra hard to make sure he sticks to his task. For the goal, both full backs were at fault, one for keeping Holt onside and the other for not passing the striker along (information to his centre back) or at least going with him.

Late drama before half time, and again it was the presence and pressure from Holt. What should have been another simple ball dealt with by the centre back Delaney was not as Holt put him under pressure and got in behind him, forcing the Ipswich defender to pull him back – and as the last man he was sent off. Poor play from Delaney, but credit has to go to Holt for his hard work and total commitment to his team.

Half Time Focus

Norwich: (Giving the team plenty of praise and trying to raise their game further)

1. They’re down to 10 men, move the ball quickly, get them chasing us, don’t drop the tempo.

2. They will most likely have Priskin up top on his own. Both full backs start pushing higher up pitch and join the attack. (Centre backs, stay alive, one mark, one cover)

3. Keep pressing their back four every time they get the ball.

4. Let’s be positive down their right hand side. The right midfielder is not the best defensively and the right back (first game on loan) didn’t want to head the ball that half. We can expose that.


1. Do things quicker at the back. Every touch you have, their forwards (Holt/Chris Martin) are on their way to put you under pressure.

2. Let’s tidy up set pieces. Who’s marking who? Be accountable.

3. Get the ball up to Priskin, get up quickly and support him.

4. Keep the score at 2-1 as long as possible. They will get frustrated, the crowd will get uptight. Stay compact, defend a little deeper, keep play down one side of the pitch. We will get our opportunities to score. Be patient.

As a spectator, it is extremely easy to comment from the touchline and give your own views. Injuries, illness, poor form in training, egos, attitudes, loans, formations, debuts, etc, are all things that go into picking the team and only the manager knows best. But from the outset it did very much appear, (scoreline excluded) that Norwich got this one right in the way they approached and played the game.

They controlled the early second half possession and at times the Norwich crowd started to get frustrated at the lack of opportunities created against Ipswich’s 10 men. Maybe they could have created more, but for me it was perfect because as they were knocking the ball around the back and in to the middle, although they weren’t creating chances, the home side were pulling/forcing the opposition to do some very unnecessary running and wearing them out which was opening up big gaps in their narrow shape.

Unnecessary Running

Although they didn’t create too much, Ipswich
defended very narrow and every time ball was
switched from side to side, the forward and midfield
were chasing back and forward and eventually
big gaps started opening up.

What could have been better from Ipswich, whilst they set themselves up this way in the second half, would have been to try a lot harder to keep the ball down one side of the pitch. Far too many times they were running from side to side and Norwich found it very easy to turn out and play the other side – effectively stretching them and allowing Norwich to play into big spaces. The extra initial effort to get to your man, stop him turning out, prevents a lot more running in the long run, as you end up chasing out the other side for longer, over longer distances, in more dangerous areas.

After quite a few changes to Ipswich’s back four, one being Carlos Edwards going to right back, Norwich found it easy to break their rivals down and scored two late goals. Edwards at right back? It’s a tough one, and again only the manager knows, but a sloppy free kick given away deep in his own half and then finding himself in the centre back position for Norwich’s final goal, where he stuck a ‘wingers’ leg out and dove in, allowing Wes Hoolahan to finish with ease. In possession Edwards looked unsure of when to get forward and when to stay back. It was definitely an area that Norwich found easy to expose.

Final Score 4-1 Norwich


The argument is always out there about playing football vs playing ‘direct’. I have to say, especially in the Championship where there are some top players – the best, most productive play I have seen is when teams try, with confidence, to play football. But everyone has to be on the same page and working as one, both with and without the ball. In this game, Norwich did just that and it’s great to see a newly promoted team, come up and play with such confidence. I’m sure the fans will be very proud of their derby display.