'Brilliant' Norwich still in with a promotion shot, says Derby's City favourite
©Focus Images Limited www.focus-images.co.uk +447814 482222
Derby County striker Cameron Jerome still believes his former side Norwich City can gatecrash the Championship promotion party this season.
The 31-year-old striker faced his old team-mates for the first time on Saturday following his January departure, as Derby held Norwich to a 1-1 draw at Pride Park.
Come Sunday, Aston Villa’s derby win over Birmingham had knocked the Rams out of the automatic promotion spots – and Jerome was not prepared to rule out another City encounter before the season is done.
“Who knows? There is so much football to be played – 15 games so if they go on a run, they’re more than capable of gatecrashing the party,” said Jerome.
“They’re not too far off it at the minute and with results going for them, they haven’t lost any ground.”
Likewise Jerome hasn’t lost any favour from his former club, getting a warm reception from 1,700 visiting fans as well as glad tidings from City head coach Daniel Farke, sporting director Stuart Webber and owner Delia Smith pitchside after the game.
“I’ve not long joined Derby, so the relationship is still healthy and strong with the club and everyone connected with it,” admitted Jerome.
“During my time there, I was always treated really good and even during the departure, it was always on mutual terms. So in that respect, it was nice to see some familiar faces.
“It’s just a shame we couldn’t pick up all three points. It was disappointing from our point of view, but Norwich were brilliant I thought, especially in the second half. They fully deserved a point.
“They had the penalty in the first half but other than that, I thought we were in control. They didn’t look too threatening. But the second half was totally different. I thought we looked a bit tentative and sort of sat back five or 10 yards, a little bit deeper in terms of our starting positions.
“They managed to get in good pockets and control possession, and put us on the back foot. It was disappointing in that respect, especially at home, when you expect to take the game to the opposition. But I think sometimes you can be caught in two minds, especially when you’re 1-0 up.
“I think we got caught out, so it’s a lesson learned from us and we’ll move on.”
Jerome knows everything there is to find out about the team he faced on Saturday – but still found time to praise the performance to City’s man of the moment.
“We dropped that little bit deeper in the second half and they managed to find their players in between the pockets, and he’s one of those players who operates in that area,” said Jerome of James Maddison.
“He can be quite elusive to pick up at times and he’s very good technically. For someone of such a young age, he showed great maturity to take the game by the scruff of the neck in the second half. He was probably Norwich’s standout player.”
It was a mixture of Jerome and Tom Huddlestone that sent Nelson Oliveira to the floor and earned Norwich their chance to equalise in the second half – the first goal Derby had conceded in five league games.
However, Jerome had a more positive impact with the first-half penalty that Oliveira saw saved by Rams keeper Scott Carson.
“To be fair to Scotty, I said to him ‘that way, that way, he always goes that way’ – but he said he knew that anyway,” joked Jerome.
“Against the penalty taker for a goalkeeper, it’s always cat and mouse I suppose. Scotty guessed right, luckily for us.
“But they changed penalty taker and Maddison slotted his away. Scotty has been brilliant in the past couple of games and he’ll be disappointed to have conceded, like we all are, but we move on.”
Derby are back in action on Tuesday with a trip to stalling Sheffield Wednesday.
• For the latest Norwich City news and opinion follow Michael Bailey on the following channels…