Thursday, 19 May 2011

Transfer window? More like supermarket sweep for Town fans!

Interesting theory on Twitter this week: davegoods reckons there's seven places to fill in the Ipswich Town first team this summer. Quite a task for our PJ.

I think you've got to consider even more than that. Our starting 11 could literally be anything next year: and trying to figure out who it will be is proving to be quite exciting!

Firstly, there's the ongoing saga with Jimmy Bullard. This story has more twists and obstacles than the A14 and it seems unlikely to be resolved any time soon. Word has it he wants to stay, Paul Jewell has said he wants him to stay, and we know already how much the fans want him to stay... yet there's still now word on an actual contract.

For me, it's all a bit too 'been there done that': remember Frannie Jeffers? The man was a legend at Portman Road for a few months and my god we wanted to sign him permanently. But when it came to the crunch he chose Sheffield Wednesday and the bigger wage packet. At the moment I don't see Jimmy playing in Blue and White next year. Sadly.

But what else does the boss say? Jewell's told reporters he's after a proven scorer - Hallelujah! He says the type of player he's after is Watford striker Danny Graham: the Championship's top scorer this year with 27 goal in all competitions. I fear we'd be shooting out of our league with this particular line of enquiry because there's reportedly Premiership interest too. But I like the way Jewell's thinking:

'I want a striker who will do anything to get a goal. We haven't got that devilment, that type of player who will kick his granny to score a goal'.

Isn't that exactly what the Town fans have been wanting all along?! My confidence in Jewell grows a little bit more every day, thanks to comments like this. It does make me wonder how different things might have been had Keane left at the end of last year and given Jewell some time with 2010's summer transfer list.

Speaking of strikers, there is, of course, the rejected bid for Billy Sharp. Here's a striker with a good reputation in the Championship, who has shown signs of that 'anything for a goal' attitude. There's plenty of time for Town to come up with another bid, but again the rumours of Premiership interest may get in the way. Isn't it annoying?!

Then, there's also talk on fan site Those Were The Days that we're targetting belgian midfielder Germinal Beerschott. He's a very tall midfielder who's been capped for his country. Even if it's not true it serves as a reminder that Paul will have his fingers in pies we've not even thought of. So trust the big man I reckon.

With all these rumours flying around I was feeling a bit dizzy, so I turned to twitter and the ITFC Tweeps! 'If you were PJ who would you spend your pocket money on?' The response was a full blown shopping list from dave_harrison, though as he said it was 'more fantasy football than realistic football'.

Bullard, Goodwillie, Sharp, Coppinger, St Ledger, Montgomery, Westwood, George, Boyd .

Now, defender St Ledger's a very interesting idea that I've not seen anywhere else yet. We were linked with him in January but it was decided that the requested £2.5 million was too high. A strong defender with experience in this league and a good reputation could be just what we need with our McAuley heading to pastures new. Perhaps that asking price will have gone down now his club Preston have been relegated?

Join the Town Tweeps and follow me on Twitter @tractorgirlamy

Elsewhere, I've just discovered which kicked up some more 'realistic' ideas. Blogger Lewis suggests Shaun Derry; a midfielder who came close to a deal with us last summer but financial issues put a stop to it. Lewis also ponders the possibility that, now QPR have been promoted, Derry's 33 year old legs and stamina would be better suited to the Championship than the Premier League. Lewis also comes up with Sheffield United defender Nick Montgomery. Another player with a good reputation... previous to this year anyway! However, I am reliably informed by my boyfriend (a life long Blade), Montgomery's a true United-ike, most likely, would want to see them back up to the league they've just been relegated from.

Of course all of this speculation will come to nothing if Clegg and Evans don't back Jewell with the necessary finances. I do get the impression they understand that is what's needed to get out of this league. But, will they deliver on that? Was the lack of support from the board the reason Keane left? Did he just feel he wasn't given the money? Were McAuley and Norris not simply looking for a move to the Premiership? Could there have been more to it, more going on behind the scenes than we know?

We'll find out soon enough; but I am reminded of what one fan said on Twitter in response to shouts for 'Clegg out'. What is everyone worrying about? The football season still hasn't finished; there's plenty of time.

So, bearing all that in mind, who would I pick? Any of the above and more besides.

For me though, the important thing is not who the players are but how well they gel together next year. Town have to enter August with a confidence and total desire to win every game. In the pit of my tummy I'm getting the same feeling I was getting in the mid nineties - that we were at the start of something good. It may take us a few years to get there. It may take us four attempts to win the Play Offs. But one day we will, once again, be Premier League.

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Was 2010/2011 just the season we'll soon forget?

If this was a school report it would probably read: 'Town have tried hard through this difficult year, but they must do better next year'.

Roy Keane this week told reporters, 'my only regret is that I signed the contract before I met the Chief Executive. I won't be doing that again' ( My opinion: if he found it that difficult to work with the board at Ipswich he should have left. But c'est la vie and we seem to be happily drawing a rather thick black line under that particular chapter of Ipswich Town history. Time to move on.

The introduction of Paul Jewell as the new boss could not have been more different to the media hype of Roy Keanes entrance. Keane was practically brought to the club with a fanfare and fireworks; followed by a promise that he would get the club promoted within two years. A promise that was inevitably left broken.

Whereas the conference with Paul Jewell seemed much more calm: here was a familiar face with a reasonable reputation in the Championship, who's outlook on the coming season was somewhat more realistic: 'We all want to be in the Premier League but if you go in and you're not quite ready you can be eaten alive...Promotion is definetly the long term goal' (

Town fans breathed a sigh of a relief... that's what we've all been saying!

Having come to a team who had lost ten of their last 14 games (including a 7-0 FA Cup defeat at Chelsea), Jewell's magic seemed to work immediately when we won the next three games on the trot. Something Keane had never managed.

But Town fans remained cautious, wary of getting too excited too soon, and press reports of us making the Play Offs were mostly laughed off. The inconsistency of the following results served as justification for the scepticism.

Whilst one minute the team were experiencing the highs of a wonderful Carling Cup run and an unexpected win over Leicester in extremely heavy snow. The next minute they suffered some seriously awful lows: the game at Carrow Road being the best example. They never seemed to be able to settle down and find some form.

Such is the nature of the Championship, to be fair. From game to game you never know what the result is going to be because any club can win on any day. It's what makes it exciting and it's why I love it. But, sometimes you do think you'd give up that excitement for a bit of consistency.

And that's what I wish for next year; some consistency and good form. To know that we put our all into every game and did the best we could. I'm not sure that can be said for many of the games this year.

Game of the Season:

For most people there's no question: it has to be beating Arsenal 1-0 at Portman Road. What a special night for everyone involved with the club.

Another game worth noting is the 3-0 win over Sheffield United: the day the world discovered Connor Wickham thanks to that goal!

But for me the Game of the Season was Doncaster away. I've been wanting to go to the Keepmoat stadium for years as it's less than half an hour away from where I live. I arrived on a really miserable night huddled in my car before kick off eating a packed lunch tea. But the atmosphere among the Tractor Boys was electric; still reeling from the recent win over Arsenal. That mood seemed to transfer to the pitch as the boys ruled Yorkshire for the night. 6-0 was a thoroughly deserved scoreline thanks to the organised football and pure passion from a team that actually looked hungry for a win for once. Of course Connor was on fire too, which helped a bit!

Player of the Season:

Part of me wants to say Connor for that hat trick alone.

And a personal favourite of mine is Jamie Peters; who earned standing ovations when he was brought on as a sub for the last four or five games.

But my final decision goes the same way as the vast majority of Town fans who voted overwhelmingly for loanee Jimmy Bullard. It's been a long time since we've had a player who can single-handedly change the attitude of the whole team. From the moment he joined us in January we were transformed into a team that looked like we could win any game, and more importantly like one that wanted to.

So, Mr Paul Jewell: Please do whatever it takes to bring Jimmy to Portman Road permanently. I'm sure he's tempted by the lure of the Premiership and its larger wage packets; but if he came to Town he would instantly become a living legend, a name to go down in history, quite simply - a god.

Chant of the season:

Once again so many that deserve a mention:

My personal favourite was 'Barnsley's a s****hole, I wanna go home'. To which my response was, it's alright for you mate, I AM home!

Then there's the befuddling 'shoes off for the town' which I still don't totally get, but enjoy how much it confuses the opposition fans!

But the number one spot goes undoubtedly to a chant that we apparently 'borrowed' from Newcastle. It rates up there with 'Finidi, ohhhhh, Finidi ohhhhh, he comes from Africa, he drives a big tractor' and 'Matteo Sereni he comes from Italy, Matteo Sereni, better than Wrighty'. Hopefully it's one we'll be singing for many years to come...

'Oh Jimmy Bullard,
You are the love of my life,
Oh Jimmy Bullard,
I'll let you sleep with my wife,
Oh Jimmy Bullard,
I want curly hair too'.

Quick thank you to my Dad for sorting me out with Naaaarwich tickets this year, buying me the new away shirt when I couldn't afford it and remebering to call me on that emotional night against Arsenal.

And also to my sister who joins me on many games in the North as she is a fellow long distance fan. But she mainly deserves a mention for singing the above song at the top of her voice in Leicester train station!