Saturday, 18 February 2012

Keep calm: but get a little bit excited!

What a joy it has been to wake up to hundreds of Twitter messages wishing Sir Bobby Robson a Happy Birthday.

Having something all Town fans can pull together to celebrate has been a rare occassion this season and I am really glad to see it happening.

It's not just today, though. Slowly but surely it feels like the family of Ipswich Town is getting itself together and enjoying supporting the team again.

A little under a month ago I checked in with the boys during their visit to Elland Road - a game that had me feeling there was nowhere left to turn for ITFC and only hard times lay ahead.

But, the following three games saw Town earn 9 points from a possible 9. Suddenly, instead of looking over our shoulders at the relegation battle, we seem to be calmly striding our way back to midtable mediocrity.

There's no denying these last 3 wins have been an incredible turning point for the boys, but - in my humble opinion - this is what we've been working towards since Forest scored that winning goal against us in the dying minutes of the game. Twice.

A little while later Town played well against Birmingham City, seeming to have learnt somewhat from their mistakes in the recent run of defeats. To lose again in the final minutes of a game we thoroughly deserved to win was heartbreaking.

By the time West Ham came around, though there was serious discontent off the pitch (due to a lack of player purchases during the January transfer window) the players at least seemed up for it. Finally they showed us the team we've been waiting for for months. Winning 5:1 against the team who are top of the league was a phenomenal result and brought some much needed joy to the long suffering Blues fans.

But, to take these improving performances and grind out a win at relegation-battling Coventry was a far more important result for me. The Ipswich from earlier games of this season would've succumbed to last minute nerves and missed that chance that lead to Chops' late winner (most likely, they would have then watched the ball go straight up the other end of the pitch and into the back of their own net instead).

I am so pleased to see the boys finally overcome their nerves and have a little faith in themselves. It's about time they started fighting for the win and showing the rest of the league what they're made of.

And so we moved on to a rather disappointing day last weekend, when the match against Middlesbrough was called off. Having made the trip from Barnsley to Suffolk myself, I will never forget the way my heart sank when the referee was called over for a discussion with his fourth official. I had really been enjoying what I was seeing: for the first time since the second half at Barnsley I was given an insight into what Paul Jewell must be picturing for his side.

A team that were playing with passion, intelligence and a mutual respect for each other. JET was superb, Tommy Smith was playing with a new found confidence and Martin was - as usual - a key part to every move we made. It felt there was more organisation to the side, and finally they are playing well as a team as a whole.

The following win against trouble-hit Portsmouth on Tuesday night was yet another example of a side in control... And so Pompey once again lead us to a great record of four games unbeaten - just as they did earlier on in the season.

But with these four wins in a row comes the pressure of keeping that going, and it unnerves me to consider what that might be doing to the side. I truly believe that they are now showing the strength to deal with that, but what will help them with that is YOU.

Regular readers will know that the positive atmosphere is something I've long cited as a contributing factor to Town's better performances. That support from the crowd was clearly evident at Portman Road against West Ham and I honestly feel it has gone a long way to helping the boys start to turn their season around.

What I'm trying to say is: whatever happens today, back the boys. Win, lose or draw these recent results have been exactly what we've been hoping for. Please show them the support you have done so well in demonstrating in recent weeks and remember: football is meant to be fun!

Though we must not to get too far ahead of ourselves with the wonderful recent results, I want to also give you a nudge and say 'go on enjoy yourself a bit'. After all: it's quite fun being an ITFC fan.

In Jewell and the players, but most of all the Blue Army we trust.

Happy Birthday Sir Bobby, I hope you're watching today's game too!

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