The View From Churchmans

Ipswich Town home match reports from just another season-ticket holder


Ipswich Town 1 Manchester City 4

Dear oh dear oh dear. What an absolute and utter embarrassment. On the
surface, this was one of those performances we saw quite regularly before
Christmas, half an hour of trying to play football, then it all starts to
come apart and by the end it’s more or less a shambles. But there was more
to this one than that. I don’t think it was as simple as the cup not being
our priority and all that. I’ve thought about not just the overall
performance, but various other clues, and come to the conclusion that
indeed, the players were sent out with strict orders to play it about a bit
whilst not, repeat not, running any risk of injuries, cautions and the like.
But the unexpected bit was, they didn’t like it one bit. There was plenty of
frustration showing by the end, but it wasn’t with each other (as it so
often has been towards the end of a bad performance), it was quite
undirected. And I have *never* seen Matt so dejected and miserable for his
parade lap at the end (and I was at that Norwich game).

I guess the hope was that City might not play to the top of their game, in
which case some nice pass and run, a few good breaks, and we were home and
dry without any risks. Trouble was (and how could it be otherwise?) they
were really up for it, and very impressive, especially in midfield. And
without getting stuck in, we were never going to beat that. For the likes of
Matt, it must have seemed like he’d just been told to go out and throw the
match. He’s an honourable guy, and it must have hurt. Badly.

So, Mr Sheepshanks, if we can’t have our money back, can tickets for these
kind of games in future be issued with statements saying “This seat may be
subject to a view of Restricted Effort” or something? It’s only fair.

And I’ve mentioned before this *stupid* tactic of Burley’s, when he wants to
bring on a forward or midfielder to replace a midfielder, instead of doing a
straight swap, he brings off a full back instead and makes an existing
midfielder play full back for the rest of the game. Tonight he did it TWICE.
George, if you wanted to bring on Armstrong for a midfielder, take the
b****y midfielder off, don’t take Wilnis off and make Jermaininho play at
full back. If Wright’s a better full-back (which patently he isn’t), play
him there from the start. And if you want to bring on Le Pen on the left,
take off the left midfielder, not the left back!

Otherwise, the formation leaves little to be commented on, standard 4-4-2,
the only contention probably being whether it was right to play Peralta out
wide to give Jermaininho the chance to play in the centre with Matt. It
didn’t really work, but I thought it was worth the try – Jermaininho is
usually a lot better in the centre, and Sixto might well have been more
flexible and might have played well out wide.

Oh and one more thing – against one full-back (Pearce) who’s near
pensionable age, and another (Wright-Phillips) who’s not by any stretch of
the imagination a full-back, we should have been taking them to pieces. As I
said before, how embarrassing.

Some ratings:
(1-5 for effort, 1-5 for achievement)

MARSHALL 7 (3/4) communicated well and made several good saves. He let in
four goals, yet was one of the bright spots of the evening. Enough said.

WILNIS 4 (2/2) had his chance and really made very little of it, dodgy in
defence and ineffective going forward, and on more than one occasion looking
a little disinterested. MCGREAL 5 (3/2) made a couple of howlers but was
stretched by the unpredictability of the defenders either side of him.
BRAMBLE 4 (2/2) was a living definition of the term “agricultural” for much
of the match; for every decent interception he made there was at least one
example of him being taken to the cleaners, there were too many errors, and
the distribution was poor, as ever. On the other hand, HREIDARSSON 7 (4/3)
seemed to be about the only player in the side to show any commitment.
Perhaps he misunderstood the instructions (and perhaps *that’s* why he had
to be substituted)…

PERALTA 5 (3/2) just kept running into trouble, and created very little.
HOLLAND 6 (3/3) had a shocker by his standards, although was still the best
thing in our midfield. Pedestrian at best, I never thought I’d see the day
when Matty would pull out of a tackle, but tonight I saw it. WRIGHT 4 (2/2)
was as apprehensive and hesitant as the rest of them, and worse, hardly
anything came off for him all night. REUSER 4 (2/2) was much the same,
choosing to throw away the best chance of the evening. His corners were
awful, and only a couple of nice cut-ins kept reminding us that you never
know, he’s always capable of something. Not tonight.

STEWART 5 (3/2) was well off the pace again, although there were signs in
the first half (albeit fleeting) that he and Bent may be able to work
together, and he certainly looked sharper as things went on. Gave up on too
much though. And for a striker, his goal-attempts tally was criminally low.
BENT 6 (3/3) gave up on even more, but at least produced a goal out of
somewhere. Can do so much better though.

Subs: CLAPHAM 6 (4/2) actually worked really hard, but to absolutely no
effect whatsoever. ARMSTRONG did very little other than miss a great chance
at 1-2. And we all realised we’d forgotten LE PEN had been on when he got
the ball near the end. Can’t remember what he did with it.

The CROWD 3 (2/1) were way below par, we had nothing to inspire us to
improve things, and we were totally outsung by the Mancs. A performance as
embarrassing as the team’s. The REF could have been much worse – come on,
this is Graham Poll we’re talking about here (I was at Arsenal v Newcastle
the other week, trust me) but the complete mistake which presented them with
the corner for the first goal was a shocker.

I just hope for Burley’s sake that by the end of the season we’re saying
“thank goodness we didn’t have the, er, distraction of a Cup run” and not
“everything collapsed at the club after that Man City debacle in the cup”.

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