Friday, April 22, 2011

Ipswich 1-.... I can't even bring myself to write the score.

I've had a good twelve hours to calm down. I had a night out with my friends and have slept for most of them, but today, I feel like an old, beloved pet has died. I've also just made the mistake of going on BBC Sport, so now that feeling of wanting to cry has returned. So please forgive the following blog, as I am emotionally unstable and am likely to go into a rant at some point about Grant Holt.

The only football match I have ever wanted to cry about was back in 2005. I was 13, had been having a pretty naff year at school due to bullying and going to a different school to all my friends. I remember the night of the 18th May like it was the day before yesterday. We'd fought back from 2-0 down at Upton Park to be at 2-2 on aggregate. I knew what a loss would mean, our key players would leave because they wanted, and deserved, Premiership football. We'd finished third, there was an optimism around Portman Road, finally, finally after relegation in 2002 we would be heading back to the "Promised Land" of the Premiership.

We ended up laying down and allowing West Ham to win 2-0 on the night. We lost 4-2 on aggregate, West Ham had a trip to Cardiff, they beat Preston 1-0 and they've been in the Premiership ever since, whilst we've been languishing in mid-table since that killer blow. After that loss to West Ham, we lost Shefki Kuqi, Darren Bent and Tommy Miller.

Whilst you may not believe it now, between them they scored about 40 goals. It's something we've never recovered from
. Since the 2005/06 season, we've cemented our place as a mid-table Championship side, doomed to spend seasons in obscurity, which, compared to clubs like Charlton, Southampton and this season, Sheffield United. In a way, it's a kind of achievement. An unwanted one, but an achievement nonetheless.

So, that was the last football match I've wanted to cry about. Until last night.

As you can see from the two previous blog posts, I was actually feeling optimistic, which is rare for me. I was sucked into the pre-derby hype. I believed we were a changed side, a better side, a side with confidence, pride and passion. What turned up at Portman Road in the blue shirts last night was the first time I have felt ashamed of my football club.

Yes, I still love Ipswich Town, and will be off to Swansea to cheer them on again, I'm still immensely proud to call myself a Tractor girl, I still clapped them (quietly and with a scowl on my face) as they were going off. But everyone who wasn't in that dark corner of the Cobbold Stand at Portman Road expected a better performance than the absolutely humiliating one yesterday. You thought Carrow Road was bad? It had nothing on this.

I must give credit where it's due, Norwich have got together a decent side. They deserve to be up there. They exposed our weaknesses, kept Wickham quiet and hit us on the counterattack. But in a way, for all that, we were the ones who caused our own downfall.

First goal, Arran Lee-Barrett couldn't stop a cross and instead put it in the path of Surman. Second goal, McAuley somehow hit it into the back of the net. I think the fourth or fifth goal, we had two players inexplicably unable to tackle one player. Josh Carson had given the ball away, something that all the players had done all evening. We did the fancy stuff outside the box, but had nobody, NOBODY, in the middle, so instead had to faff about outside it and waste a glorious opportunity by taking Cesc Fabregas' advice and kicking it over the bar.

The defence has always been questionable this season. The Middlesbrough game was an example of how much of a disaster it can be. Yesterday, at some point during the second half, Carlos Edwards had the ball in the box we were defending, and instead of booting it up field, he decided to run towards Lee-Barrett, then try and run round two Norwich players. He nearly lost the ball in a dangerous area.

We left people unmarked, we passed the ball to a yellow shirt far too many times after being in a good run of possession. There were no hard tackles, the closest we got to passion was Darren O'Dea mouthing off at the lump that is Grant Holt.

Holt was looking for a fight. He was also always looking for a free kick. In the first half, and this is why I will never think of him as a good player (and it's not because he plays for Norwich), he was battling with O'Dea or Carson (I couldn't tell as Holt was behind them and I don't really know their haircuts), and Holt grabbed onto the back of the Town player and as soon as they got the ball, let go and tumbled to the ground so theatrically that he should be in the Royal Shakespeare company. He didn't get a free kick, because the referee actually had his wits about him. He gave our players shoves in the backs, sly elbows and pretty much convinced me that the man is an absolute disgrace. So I'm so pleased that the absolute tosser didn't score against us last night, although it provides me with very little consolation.

So what do we do now?

Well, firstly, the players need to take a long, hard look at themselves. They need to realise just how much they've let the fans down. To lose 4-1 away to your fiercest rivals was embarrassing, to lose 5-1 at home to them is almost unforgivable. And to do it in such an abysmal fashion?

Secondly, Paul Jewell needs to give the fringe players a chance. He needs to play a formation that suits his players. He needs to realise that Jason Scotland is not the answer to our striking problems. We've got three games left, we're safe, we might as well give them a chance. Jaime Peters, Luca Civelli. I don't think Luke Hyam's injured anymore and the same with Shane O'Connor. At least give them a shot to see what you've got next season. It can't do any harm.

Thirdly, Simon Clegg. You are taking the piss. You CANNOT complain about the fact Roy Keane stayed in the job for too long when YOU are the chief executive and it was YOUR decision, along with the owner, to keep him in the job for so long. You get no sympathy here. You also get no sympathy for your statements regarding the players contracts. I know he's not a normal chief executive, but our club has become just a mass business opportunity. Ticket prices are hugely inflated (adult away fans have to pay at least £30. Preston vs Ipswich is hardly the Championship fixture of the century), the communication with fans seems to be poor and if I'm honest, the heart of the club seems to have gone. The owner claims to be a fan, yet very few people know what he looks like, whether he's a true fan or just using our club as a strewd business opportunity. And sadly, I think it's the latter. Since his takeover, nothing much has happened. Magilton got sacked two years ago. What's honestly changed?

And finally, the fans. Last night I saw people get kicked out of the Sir Bobby Robson Stand for fighting with each other. Some fans greeted the cattle driven Norwich fans with taunts, which was expected, but then on the way back to the coaches and stations, they stopped people with young children getting home. Arrests were made and people behaved like idiots. Yeah, I'm disappointed and angry, but I'm not going to go and try to fight someone. I saw people kick seats, which almost broke. My language last night was appalling, but in the atmosphere that greeted me in the North Stand, it was difficult to keep a cap on your emotions. Not everyone behaved like animals though. At the final whistle, I stood with the group of people I was stood with all match and looked around the lower tier. Everyone had the same face I had. Disappointment was in the eyes and no smile was present. We were heartbroken, not because of the play-offs, that was a pipe dream anyway, but because of how easily we'd just laid down and handed our rivals victory, and probably promotion on a plate.

So, like I said, I'm off to Swansea on Monday. Today, however, like many other Town fans I'm sure, I'm wallowing in disappointment, avoiding all media sources that have football on it. So, mum, turning on Sky Sports News so I have to endure a drunken Delia Smith singing is really, really not appreciated.

No comments:

Post a Comment