The View From Churchmans

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

MATCH REPORT

Inter Milan 4 Ipswich Town 1

We came to Milan, we saw a big stadium, and we failed totally to conquer our
own nervousness. The team stood around like they didn’t deserve to be there
for eighty minutes, and in the end, it wasn’t the occasion or the devotion
to the cause which finally got some of them going, it was getting a little
bit angry after the constant Italian diving, niggling and generally
irritating play had gone just too far. Why George (or the occasion, or the
magnificent support) couldn’t have inspired them to start playing earlier I
do not know. It’s like you can sleep through the loudest alarm call in the
world when it’s really important, but a little spider crawling across your
hand eventually and unexpectedly wakes you up.

And had they not taken the edge off a desperately gutless display with that
final ten minutes’ activity, there would have been a very angry 8,000 people
going back to Suffolk rather than a very disappointed 8,000. As it happened,
and not for the first time, they just took the edge off what might have been
demands for heads to roll.

It actually started quite brightly. Despite the bulk of the enormous Town
support having been forced into the pit which was the away section up to two
or more hours before the game, the support was incredible. We lined up with
the 4-5-1 some of the listies have been suggesting, and for a while, the
Jim-Jermaininho-Matt trio in the middle of the park looked to be one of the
most effective things we’ve produced this season. We created 2 or 3
reasonable chances, and there was real optimism on the terraces that we
might nick something.

Then the defence was caught asleep with a stupid goal, heads dropped, the
wide players went AWOL, Jim became Ray Wilkins again, and it became all too
obvious that there wasn’t going to be the heart-and-soul commitment of the
first leg which had made up for being, let’s face it, not in the same class
as one of the best sides in the world (and there’s nothing to be ashamed of
there).

You can’t make half a dozen defensive blunders against Inter Milan and
expect to get a result. And so it was they just toyed with us for most of
the game, with Vieri picking us off every time a mistake came. It was all a
very sad way to end a wonderful experience for the supporters (and, I guess,
for the players, although you wouldn’t have known it by many of their
apparent attitudes). Now, I think, the real work begins.

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

SERENI 6 (3-3) made a couple of good saves, but I’m unsure if
miscommunication with the defence was a problem with at least one of the
goals.

MAKIN 5 (2-3) put in a slightly more solid performance than on some
occasions recently, but fairly uninspirational with little adventure.
BRAMBLE 7 (3-4) was magnificent in the air at times, and whilst a couple of
passes were overambitious, only one was potentially disastrous, and although
his partnership with Veno must be at fault for some of the damage, I don’t
think he was directly responsible for any of the goals. VENUS 4 (2-2) was
very disappointing in what might be the last major game of his career, and
one which he was clearly looking forward to beforehand. Several mistakes and
several complete disappearances which led to killer chances for Inter.
HREIDARSSON 6 (3-3) rarely got the chance to get creative, but in a
four-man-defence against the Serie A leaders you wouldn’t have expected him
to any more than you would Makin. Reasonably solid at the back, but I keep
thinking I’d rather see us build a defence around him and Titus in the
centre now.

FINIDI 4 (2-2) for fleeting moments in the first half looked “the man most
likely to”, but it was never much more than “likely to” really. Didn’t get
given the ball enough at a time when he could have made a difference on a
good day. HOLLAND 6 (3-3) was quiet, that’s really the most which can be
said. The ironic cheer which greeted his headed effort towards the end
showed he’s as likely to have a go as anyone now, and he even got involved
in a small altercation, but then nobody’s questioning his commitment. WRIGHT
7 (3-4) was perhaps one of the brightest aspects of the evening, looking so
much more at home in the very centre of the midfield, and even more so in
the centre of a trio which as a formation showed promise. MAGILTON 5 (2-3)
just didn’t deliver the inspiration when we needed it most. On a night where
we wanted players to die for the cause, his non-event of a performance hurt
more than almost anyone’s. CLAPHAM 3 (2-1) was, quite simply, awful. How
badly does he have to play to be substituted? Playing badly, and needing far
too much time for everything, was bad enough, but what was worse though was
to see him bottle out of challenges too.

NAYLOR 4 (2-2) was not up to the job. He said on the radio he’s not been
getting the opportunities and he was disappointed enough to be considering
leaving, but being given the role of the lone striker in a 4-5-1 in one of
the club’s biggest fixtures for years, he can never complain again. He was
totally, utterly out of his depth and even fluffed a chance presented to him
on a plate. I love this guy. But enough’s enough. At the level we’re now at,
Richard isn’t good enough.

Subs:
ARMSTRONG 7 (4-3) before last night, when compared to Naylor, would, in my
opinion, have been considered much of a muchness. I’ve changed my mind
totally. Alun showed commitment to the cause, and actually delivered some
results too. On a night when there was little to be proud of, Alun can hold
his head up. COUNAGO 5 (3-2) did his normal run-around-a-lot and achieve
bugger all (except giving the ball away again and again) thing. Not good
enough. PERALTA 6 (3-3) was OK, but we’d have expected more on an occasion
like this. Was he fit?

The REFEREE was a real bottler. Totally fooled into giving two or three
free-kicks, one of which led to a goal, and might have produced two reds
towards the end, particularly for the deliberate handball (after which he
bizarrely allowed the wall to stand about 5 yards from our free kick). The
GROUND was a real s***hole, at least the away supporters’ cage was. A very
big s***hole, but nonetheless, a s***hole. Fences obscuring the pitch, crap
seating (although it was great to stand for 90 minutes again!) and no chance
of getting any decent food, a hot drink or any souvenirs. I don’t think they
even had a programme. San Siro, no thanks.

But hey. It wasn’t all bad…

David SHEEPSHANKS 10 (5-5) was once again the saviour of the day with this
wonderful appearance after the game, appearing on the terraces conducting
the crowd and keeping spirits up when we wondered if they’d ever let us out.
This man is an absolute god, and in PR terms worth millions to the club. If
he left tomorrow, I think he’d have to go down as one of the greatest
characters ever associated with Ipswich Town. But there’s more to come, I
know it.

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