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[Blog] The Homer Simpson of the Championship
Written by TheBoyBlue on Wednesday, 17th Aug 2011 15:47

I never thought I would leave Portman Road having seen Ipswich ship five goals and feel any kind of positivity, but strangely last night I did.

For nearly half an hour last night it felt like the old times. You know, when we had players giving their all, when you felt every foray forward would result in a Town goal? The place was rocking in a way that it has been far too rarely in recent seasons.

That kind of performance and it will be an exciting season here. And in Jay Emmanuel-Thomas and Michael Chopra, supported by Lee Martin we have our best looking attack for years. Literally years.

But here come the inevitable negatives that have to come after another huge defeat on home soil. JET and Chopra are going to have to score shedloads of goals. Actually shedloads. Because for all the potency of our frontline – providing Chopra stays fit and Emmanuel-Thomas sticks to his promise of being his unplayable best week-in-week-out – our defence is so slow, so static and so unwilling to get stuck in that we are going to have to outscore the opposition at a rate that would have made even Kevin Keegan blush.

Granted Southampton were superb but even that is another stunning indictment of how stale things have got at ITFC. The way they tapped the ball around, moved for it, made runs, got back was light-years ahead of anything we could dream of seeing the boys in blue achieve this season and on the basis of last night any season soon.

Yet this is a team up from League One. Another team that has come in and given us a footballing lesson, just like another certain promoted team last season.

We’re fast becoming the Homer Simpson of the Championship. We’ve got used to watching others come in and get promoted ahead of us whilst we’ve spent years plugging away unsuccessfully. Norwich. Blackpool. Swansea. Wigan. All teams that have come up from below us and gone onto the Premier League whilst we make the task seem a whole lot harder.

Judging by last night Southampton will probably soon be joining that list and from the noises I’ve been hearing from others, Brighton are far more likely to reach the promised land before we ever do. If we ever do. Brighton?! You remember that team that were playing in a ramshackle playing field? The type of place that we mocked Naaaaridge for having to go a couple of years ago?

That’s before we consider just how far behind others we are. Can any of you see us finishing above Leicester, West Ham, Birmingham , Middlesbrough, Cardiff or even Blackpool?

There is hope, of course. This is football, despite how far removed it has become from its original appeal. But we need to move forward and fast. The attack is there for us and whilst back-up will be needed (God forbid that any of the aforementioned three get injured for a long period) we need to make sure we have the first eleven covered first.

Midfield may come good and Keith Andrews popped up with the kind of finish that has been so lacking in recent years to get us back into the game. Most urgent is the centre of defence. We have to either spend big money on proven ability or get someone young and hungry from the lower leagues. Or both.

Another failed Premier League ‘star’ or someone ageing and injury-prone won’t do. We need someone who has pace, is prepared to get stuck in, can dominate in the air and also distribute. Sadly both Smith and Delaney were lacking in all departments last night and whilst Smith may come good, the slow, cumbersome Irishman seems a lost cause without McAuley beside him. It all seems so obvious, but no one seems to be addressing the issue with anything but words at Portman Road.

Meanwhile, we need fans to stay on side. The crowd was tremendous last night and showed how team and fan can work together. We nearly got back a seemingly lost cause. Now we need to do it for our season before that is a lost cause.

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Garv added 16:19 - Aug 17
Inspiring stuff! A random observation, Andrews reminded me of Miller the way he smashed his goal in last night, he could become very useful.

ncharles added 16:25 - Aug 17
"Most urgent is the centre of defence. We have to either spend big money on proven ability or get someone young and hungry from the lower leagues. Or both."

We should go for both! We have some money, good facilities and the basis of a good team so an audacious big bid for who we want from league one or the championship. The sort of bid that most chairmen would struggle to refuse. Maybe offer cash and add a couple of loan players as well.


WonkyZombie added 16:29 - Aug 17
So bloody glad that some ITFC fans still are thinking sanely. Yes, definite work to be done and Centrebacks are needed pronto but the attack and midfield are contenders in my opinion.

All is not lost.

Chicago_Blue added 16:39 - Aug 17
I must admit, it's annoying seeing teams in the Prem who were on a par (or below) with us not so long ago; the likes of Norwich, Bolton, Wolves, Wigan, Stoke, QPR and Swansea. Heck, I remember only about 4 years ago us playing Swansea at home in the FA Cup and it being a fairly big tie for them. Now it would be the other way round. We've stood still, that's for sure. Even looking at the Championship, there are clubs who have enjoyed some Prem seasons since we last did; the likes of West Ham, Blackpool, Reading, Watford and Burnley.

tractorboy2434 added 16:57 - Aug 17
I have been saying that wqe needed youth and pace for 3 seasons, but there is still no sign of it, its time for Evans to employ a manager that knows what he is doing and back him with the required cash or sell the club to someone who will.

Enough is enough, time for action Mr Evans, over to you, or maybe, just maybe you are'nt really that bothered about success as you say.

CaughtInTheBrambles added 16:57 - Aug 17
Can't we just have Gareth McAuley back, or have him cloned.

To play two left sided defenders in the centre of defence last night was a recipe for disaster and so it proved.

Our twenty minutes of dominance was due to the introduction of Martin and JET, the latter looking superb and just the ticket whislt the former was far more effective on his right side.

There are two worries here though: 1) where an earth do we get a McAuley replacement (I would actually look at the lower leagues for a cheap right sided centre back with experience rather than upwards for a player not good enough to make a Prem squad and therefore either young or possibly past it) and 2) I am getting worried about Jewells tactical nouse, his press comments afterwards were to me so off the mark (in complete contrast to Roy Keane who was always so spot on) seem to suggest he cannot see the obvious mistakes he is making.

This was what made me feel so negative (and anyone that knows me would be shocked to hear that).

Mind you, I had the last laugh, a summer of unemployment has left me with no Season Ticket. My new work may leave me with no time for football since evenings and weekends may be set aside for client liaision and work, at least for the next quarter. So as I left, I jokingly pitied my fellow fans who would have to witness what I now fear may be a poor few months, whilst I can pick and choose my games based on work requirements. (I was of course only half serious)

Infineteregress added 17:58 - Aug 17
Good, incisive and rational blog. Agree with pretty much all of it. I just hope PJ does as well!

Kuqicoo added 18:38 - Aug 17
Good blog...i think the first 20 minutes of the second half was the most exciting game ive seen at PR for a while. I can see positives...and in a way i think we needed it to happen as it showed up our shortcomings big time, namely an incredibly shaky and slow defence and uncreative midfield.

Andrews looked good, so too JET and Chops. I still have faith. Though I still wish we had kept Norris and lost Leadbitter, and kept Macaulay and lost Delaney but never mind!

SuperRonnieFearon added 19:02 - Aug 17
what a great blog - refreshing to see some positive common sense.

HARRY10 added 19:05 - Aug 17
The danger is there appears little else in the tank should we get an inury or two or any suspensions. Always a likelihood at some point(s) in the season. We will then go through the usual rigmarole of shuffling the team, playing players out of place etc

What concerns me is Jewell's policy of signing 30 something ex Premier League players. It may keep us up this season but it does not smack of any squad building or any real long term planning. Could that be the reason why we are not bringing in hungry, young ambitious players from the lower leagues or why Murphy, Norris, McAuley walked away from PR ? I'm not too sure which is cause and which is effect here. We were promised so much with Fulop and Scotland yet like others they failed to deliver. Are we about to see another season of failed promises ?

If we are not to continue, as the blog states "watching others come in and get promoted ahead of us" then Jewell needs to grasp that the squad is pretty much of his making. He has been here long enough, with almost two transfer windows and a contract year ending between, to have moved out the players not required and brought in those he did want.

Attacking young players like Carson, complaining to anyone who will listen that players are not giving enough is not what is needed. He is here to manage, not moan. Keep that to the dressing room and/or the training ground. Six months should be long enough to identify who 'is up for it' and who is not. If he hasn't done that by now then maybe it is him who is not up to it.

brogansnose added 19:06 - Aug 17
Agree with much of the blog but it does beg the question, why does it take a set of proffessional footballers a half time going over from the manager to egt motivated. Certainly PJ changed the tactics he got so wrong for the first half but the team , with the exception of Chopra and Cresswell, could have least put a bit of effort in in the form of tackles or marking. Woeful.

Vexorg added 20:17 - Aug 17
Sorry, switched off at Lee Martin praise. Total assists and goals while at PR anyone?

bluesandbooze added 20:49 - Aug 17
We have to stop living in the past.

Our glory days are just a memory (if you are old enough to remember)

We must stop assuming that we are somehow better than many other teams.

We are not.

Its OK to mock a Brighton, but they have left the Withdean, they have a super new stadium, they have more season ticket holders than us, they are on the up.

We are stagnating, how long have we been in this division? when did we have any excitement apart from last seasons league cup ( a competition that some of our more blinkered fans derided until we actually did well in it)

We face a very tough season against superior teams.

I fear it will be a while until we can look down at some of the teams that have recently passed us.

TractorRoyNo1 added 22:50 - Aug 17
why did he wait until we were three down before he changed the team?

Lammy added 23:16 - Aug 17
good blog at 3-2 I still thought we could win it. We really needed JET on from the start

hamster153 added 00:46 - Aug 18
Think your to negative saying there play was years ahead of us when it wasn't. Our defending was shat that's the reason we lost. Our play and set pieces were good and we looked dangerous going forward. Ipswich fans put a downer on everything!

Lombokblue added 01:24 - Aug 18
Good post.
The centre back problem is not new. We gave away plenty of goals with Mcauley. Buying a quality player will always improve the side but if we can't get one then how about a bit of organisation and a settled side. Try someone young and hungry from the young and hungry players sitting on the bench. Give Ainlsley a few games


TheBoyBlue added 12:37 - Aug 18
That was largely my point bluesandbooze. In the time that we have stagnated and gone backwards in the Championship, teams like Brighton have taken themselves from a far lower point and sorted themselves out. They are frankly a better and even bigger team then us and yet very recently we would mock them.

Although the purpose of my article was to put a positive spin on things, I think it’s fair to say that Southampton’s play was light years ahead of ours hamster153. Whereas their whole team moved and passed quickly and accurately we were slow and cumbersome apart from JET, Chopra and Martin. We can barely string a pass together, let alone play like they did on Tuesday.

SWBlue86 added 12:54 - Aug 18
Excellent blog. I would be more than happy to stay in this division if it means that we see attacking football back at Portman Road. We had some excellent seasons under Big Joe Royle when we were strong going forward and more than just a little bit suspect at the back. I'm sure most town fans would rather see us with a strong forward line and weak defence compared to the other way round which we have had in the last few years. We have some excellent forward thinking players and I can see in the next few months there will be plenty more 3-2's, 4-3's or even 5-2's down at PR.

blueherts added 14:53 - Aug 18
Fact is only Coventry ( 11 years) have been in the Championship longer than us (10 years) consecutively .... As you say teams have gone down regrouped and come back far stronger and this seems to be an increasing trend .....Good Blog

Tillz9 added 22:00 - Aug 18
You sum up how I felt leaving that game

Sospiri added 06:33 - Aug 19
I finally got a chance to review the highlights. Highlights can't tell you everything about the game, but they do reveal why we conceded. My view is that, although Smith and Delaney looked rather static, they were basically beaten by a team playing effective pass-and-run, rather than any great errors on their part. I DID think Edwards was at fault for the first goal - didn't challenge at all for the header, and for the 5th (or 4th - there were so many!) - when he was out of position, and the guy got away from him. I know this is only limited eveidence, but I think we need a GENUINE right back with a leap and a physical presence - not a winger doing his best, and a team that can pass and run at speed like Southampton, not loiter on the ball as we seem to do. And I think the midfield needs to step up.
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