Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Ipswich Town FC; the finest football team the Championship has ever seen?

In my state of drunk-with-happiness-following-our-amazing-3:1-win-over-Brighton I made a very bold statement to the researchers at BBC 5 Live's 606:

'Ipswich Town are now the best team in the League'

Clearly I was a little overexcited. But, you know, the more I think about it the more I'm convinced I'm right.

Sam Allardyce was the third manager this season to make the following statement: 'Ipswich Town are the best team we've played so far'.

Ten points from 12 sounds great and it's certainly a statistic even the most faithful of Town fans were expecting. But what's even more impressive is how that compares to the top teams in the league: of the top 6 clubs, none have earned as points as us from the last 4 games.

Position Club Points Form
1st Southampton 6 Beat Watford and Birmingham
2nd Middlesbrough 6 Beat Palace Away and drew other three.
3rd Derby County 7 Beat Forest and Millwall
4th West Ham 5 Beat Peterborough and drew two.
5th Brighton 1 Just one draw after very good start.
6th Hull City 8 Didn’t lose in September.

Consistency is key, and it seems that not only have we found our pace - but it's good enough to rival the teams at the top of our league. Early on in the season I voiced my rejection of fears online that the top teams were running away already and we'd never catch them. Thanks to this great run, I have been proven right.

What's interesting when you look at these statistics is the games these top teams are winning - they're defeating clubs like Forest, Watford and Peterborough. Without wanting to appear disrespectful, these are not difficult games and seem even less impressive when compared with our run of a draw and two wins against Middlesbrough, West Ham and Brighton.

The one team who do make a good impression on me are Middlesbrough, they haven't yet lost this season. That's a fantastic situation to be in and it's that kind of consistency that will win out at the end of the year. However, there is something to be said for the fight that needs to appear within a team following a bad run of results: Something Town have shown in abundance.

And that is another reason I believe we are the best team in the league. When we lost to Peterborough I was loud and clear about my disappointment that the players had given up so easily and that they weren't even getting on with each other. That just isn't a problem anymore.

On Saturday we were gutted to lose the chance to make it four clean sheets in a row - but the character the boys showed to make a come back from that disappointment was excellent. What's more the celebrations following the goals showed they are happy together now. It's something that's impressed other Town fans too, I asked what the highlight of the game was:

@Beazerblue Chopra giving Jewell a hug after one of his goals. Shows good spirit.

@S_BaileyITFC Chops ran straight to Jewell after his second goal and bear hugged him!

@Seanie_S I agree, that was my highlight too!

@83missy Somehow that hug ended up as a mass bundle. Team spirit!

@dc96 Sonko/JB chest bump after 2nd goal.

(Something I've still not seen so if anyone's got a video link please send it to me!)

@clarky_7for19 For me it was something special seeing Sonko tower above everyone for his goal.

@Felstedboy Jimmy going to greet a fan in the disabled section during the warm up. You could see it made his day, tear to eye and lump in throat moment.

Which brings me to the next point I would like to make: the signings we've made this summer are also making us the best team in the league. The return of Craig Mackail-Smith to Portman Road this weekend reminded some that there had been small amounts of rumours that Ipswich were interested in buying him. Some Twitter voices even commented that they thought it was Jewell's biggest mistake not signing him. But, I'm hoping the result on Saturday proved them wrong.

Chopra, Jimmy, Bowyer, Andrews, Sonko, Collins, Cresswell and Stockdale. It may have taken a few games for them to gel, but can you imagine an Ipswich team without them now?!

We now have the best midfield since the days of Mattie Holland, experience and determination with a great ability to read the game (thanks to the now irrepressible Grant Leadbitter).

Our defence looks more solid than it has since Tony Mowbray and Mark Venus ruled the back line. Sonko and Collins finally provide fans with a bit of reliability, while Stocko is a great acquisition both in and out of Portman Road following ANOTHER call up to the England squad.

Whilst the Chopland partnership continues to work it's magic, with 7 goals in four games and Chops finally reopening his account for the Blues we can look forward to a better goal difference this year, I feel.

Meanwhile, I do not doubt for a single second that Chops will reach his 20 goal target this season, and the outpouring of Twitter love for the hit man when he scored his first on Saturday shows the Blue Army are believing that too!

I will reiterate what I have said many times before: we will not win every game, even if we make the play-offs we still may not go up (an experience we're all far too familiar with) and there will still be days where things don't go to plan.

But the important thing is keeping the faith. According to Paul Jewell, the support the fans showed when we went 1:0 down on Saturday lifted the players.

And there you have the final reason Ipswich Town are the best in the league - we have the greatest fans. We are the twelfth man this year, and we will be the difference between making it into the top six and sticking around the midtable.

In Jewell We Trust.

For anyone who's interested in hearing me spread the Ipswich Town positivity message here's the link, I'm at 1 hr 29 minutes on the 6 second challenge!


dc96 said...

Pompey will be my first game since near the start of the season and hoping they can keep it up. If we stay relatively injury free and don't lose the loans then I think we're in with a really good shout. The Bullard effect in the dressing room is obvious.

Amy Downes said...

I believe that is why Paul Jewell has been looking for more loans: so we have a back up in case of injuries or losing one of our many loan players... or prison. It's a nice club to play at now though so perhaps the loanees might chose to stay?