Filed: Monday, 30th January 2012
By: Preview Percy
Preview Percy's cough is so loud that the builders working next door to his care home have complained that they can't tell if their pneumatic drills are working properly. In between existing on a diet of Veno's, rum and his usual Werther's Originals he managed to put together a few words about this week's midweek visit to Suffolk. As usual John Northcutt provides the statistical background to the match....
Next we traipse up the A12 to Portman Road where Ipswich Town will be our hosts for Tuesday night’s 7.45pm kick-off. A word of warning for those travelling by train: not content with undertaking engineering work every weekend, the good people at Network Rail will be doing the same on Tuesday night on the main line back to Liverpool Street. The last actual train back all the way to London leaves Ipswich at 21.58. Although there are trains after that, they’ll be replaced by buses for part of the journey so those of you who turn into pumpkins after midnight may want to factor that into your travel plans.
Our hosts currently lie in 21st place with 28 points from 27 games. That’s one place and four points clear of Nottingham Forest who currently hold the less than coveted final relegation place. That may come as a surprise to those who saw them turn us over at the Boleyn earlier this season. A quick look at the current form tables shows that they’ve drawn two (1-1 at Leicester on Boxing Day and 2-2 at home to Blackpool a couple of weeks ago) and lost four (3-1 at Leeds, 2-1 at Birmingham, 3-1 at home to Forest and 1-0 at Reading) of their last six, which places them right at the bottom of the current form table.
They seem to have developed a propensity for shooting themselves in the foot of late. The 2-2 draw against Blackpool came after they were 2-0 up. They were also 1-0 up at Elland Road with 20 minutes left when ‘keeper McCarthy pulled off a decent-looking save that had but one minor flaw, that being it was some 15 yards outside the box. Following the inevitable red card, Ipswich collapsed to let in three goals in 15 minutes.
As a result of his “save” McCarthy, who is actually on loan from Reading, will miss this one through suspension, Ipswich, like us, having been unemployed this weekend. Arran Lee-Barrett came off the bench in the Leeds match and is likely to start against us, though ex-Hammer and late Pink Floyd keyboard player Richard Wright is another option for the goalkeeping berth. Wright was in the States last week having a trial with George John’s old lot FC Dallas but will be required for bench duties at the very least for this one.
They have been active in the current window. At the time of writing they are in the process of completing a deal to sign Ryan Stevenson from Hearts for a reported fee of £500,000. Stevenson once shared academy accommodation with John Terry during a spell with Chelsea’s youth academy, though whether this was the reason he only spent one year on the Pensioners’ books isn’t recorded. Returning to Scotland he spent time at St Johnstone and Ayr before ending up at Tynecastle. The midfielder has made the full Scottish squad but is, as yet uncapped. Assuming the deal was completed in time he’ll be eligible to play against us, though match fitness may be an issue as he hasn’t kicked a ball since before Christmas. The problem is the fact that Hearts have been a bit slow in paying wages of late – owner Romanov is expecting a postal order any day now honest. With a sprog on the way Stevenson was less than happy with this state of affairs and downed tools pending the arrival of a payslip. Although Hearts coughed up eventually, the player decided that he’d had enough of being messed about and elected to make the move down south.
They’ve also been sniffing around Portsmouth with a double bid for defensive pair Jason Pearce and Joel Ward being rejected by Pompey last week. A third enquiry for ‘keeper Stephen Henderson has not been confirmed. Of course the situation at Pompey is rather critical at the moment with the parent company’s administration being followed up with a petition for winding up from HMRC, who seem to have their hands full with football matters at the moment. The current situation coupled with the impending transfer deadline will test the nerve of the Fratton Park mob, particularly with the need to get pounds shillings and pence through the door before the window slams shut. Meanwhile it is to be hoped that some sort of solution to Pompey’s problems can be sorted out if only for purely selfish reasons – having done the double over them we’d lose 6 points if they went under.
With boss Paul Jewell blaming the defence for their current problems they homed in on Leicester & ROI centre half Sean St Ledger. St Ledger had a major bust up with Foxes boss Nigel Pearson and was allegedly told that he had played his last match for the midlands outfit and terms were agreed with Ipswich for a move to Portman Road. Then things went a bit weird. Possibly because of injuries elsewhere in the squad (though this hasn’t been confirmed anywhere) St Ledger suddenly found himself selected for Leicester’s FA Cup replay against Forest and the deal seems to have collapsed. Ipswich have subsequently turned their attentions to Falkirk’s Murray Wallace who, though highly rated, at 19 is probably considered to be one for the future.
Apart from the defence they’ve not exactly been prolific up front. Top scorer with 9 goals this season has been midfielder Keith Andrews. Andrews signd on loan from Blackburn earlier in the season and it was said that Ipswich had an option to purchase the player at the end of the loan period. However Andrews returned to the Chicken Farmers a couple of weeks ago and appears set to stay there.
This leaves the troubled Michael Chopra as top scorer still at Portman Road. Chopra has started few games of late, his battle with a gambling addiction meaning that he has seen as much of the Sporting Chance Clinic as he has of the training ground in recent weeks. Ipswich recently announced that they’d given the player £250,000 to clear his gambling debts, the details being revealed in a court case where some alleged drug dealers claimed that all the banknotes lying around their flat had come from Chopra’s repayment. With that sort of stuff on his mind it’s hardly surprising that his mind has been elsewhere of late, though he has been on the bench.
When we met at the Boleyn last year part of our downfall was due to the fact that we gave the freedom of the Boleyn to ex-Hammer Jimmy Bullard. It is not clear how much of an opportunity the midfielder will get to repeat the performance. Not for the first time in his career, Bullard is reported to have had a falling out with his boss, apparently annoying Jewell with his failure to relocate the Bullard homestead from Surrey to Suffolk. Bullard’s last start for the Tractor Boys was back in November, though he has come on from the bench on a number of occasions since then. Jewell has attributed some of his absence to a flu bug, something that one can sympathise with having been struggling with the damn bug myself for a few weeks now. Not that the editors here give a damn – they haven’t brought me so much as a packet of Lemsip.
Another ex-Hammer on the injury list has been Lee Bowyer. The goalscorer in the reverse fixture back in September has missed the last few with a groin strain. The original diagnosis was three weeks, and that was three weeks ago. However most sources are saying that he’s out of this one which, given his habit of scoring against us, would be a bit of a relief.
Talking of sickness and ill health our own injury list is improving to the extent that Matt Taylor should be available to take some part in proceedings for this one alongside Guy Demmel. Both players have been in full training took part in a Development Squad friendly last week. That gives us just about a full squad to chose from, not counting Stech and assuming Diop & O’Brien have recovered from their ailments.
It’s been an interesting few days on the transfer front. Firstly we had all those “Tevez to return” rumours, fuelled by a large number of people claiming to be in the know. Here at the rest home, Matron reckons that her sister in law’s gardener’s brother’s dentist once did one of Carlos’s fillings and he swears blind that a deal has been done. Me? I’m not so sure. Whilst a short nippy guy is precisely the sort of player we’ve missed since Bellamy was shipped out, I can’t help feeling that we might just be a few pence short on the wages front.
In other news talks were quite advanced with a striker called Eder who promptly did a Savio before returning to say that he wasn’t happy with the way negotiations had been handled and therefore wouldn’t be coming after all. I tried to find out exactly what had upset him so much but Matron’s sister in law’s gardener’s brother’s dentist doesn’t do his fillings so I’m none the wiser.
Happily, all the money spent by the club on shirts with the name “Eddie” written on the back wasn’t completely wasted as attentions were turned to the Brazilian Ze Eduardo who is currently on the books of Genoa. Ze Eduardo has been on the books of no fewer than fifteen clubs so far, ten of which have been on loan. However, assuming the deal goes through, this will be the first club whose name starts with “W” as he works his way through the alphabet.
It seems ages since the Forest match. That win came by virtue of a performance that was so sub-par even Mr Allardyce didn’t try to blind us with statistics to prove that it wasn’t. We could easily have been two or three down by the time that we got the sort of penalty that Liverpool seem to think is theirs by right when playing at home. Certainly the second half was an improvement with their ‘keeper having to make a few saves but overall the mood at the end of the match was sombre, despite the fact that the result took us to the top.
We’ll need to improve on the Forest performance for this one. Despite their lowly position Ipswich can be a dangerous side. Although we weren’t at our best at the Boleyn they thoroughly deserved their win, notwithstanding the lateness of the winner. Their current run won’t have done their confidence much good of late and this is something we’ll need to capitalise on early on. An early goal will do us the power of good – though if we get it it’d be nice to see us go try to double it for once rather than sitting back and defending it. If we can get that early goal I’ll take us to win 2-0 something that could extend our lead at the top if Cardiff and Southampton cancel each other out.
Enjoy the game!
When Last We Met: Lost 0-1 The fact that Lee Bowyer’s winner came so late did nothing to disguise a poor home performance.
Referee: Fred Graham The Stanford Le Hope-based Arsenal supporter was last seen doing our 2-1 home defeat to Burnley which, to date, is the only one of our matches he’s taken charge of.
Danger Man: Jimmy Bullard It would have been Bowyer, who always scores against us and would have done so had his groin not precluded his involvement. Otherwise, if Jewell has the sense to select him, Bullard will threaten from midfield if we allow him to like we did in the return fixture.
Daft fact of the week: Ipswich is the home of Mr Paul Mason. Mr Mason was once the world’s heaviest man. At his peak he weighed in at 70 stones. He’s had a gastric band fitted and now weighs a “mere” 30 stones. You lot can make your own Lampard jokes.
Stat man John: Northcutt's corner
Aug 1986 0-2
Aug 1992 1-1 Dicks
Aug 1998 2-2 Hudson Garcia
Aug 2008 5-3 Ashton 3 Bellamy Noble
Jul 2010 1-1 Cole
They Played For Both
Lee Chapman, Mark Noble, Craig Forrest, Kieron Dyer, Phil Parkes, Andy Nelson, Stuart Slater, Steve Bywater, Paul Goddard, Steve Whitton, Lee Bowyer, Richard Wright, Jimmy Bullard, Marlon Harewood, Matt Holland, Kevin Horlock
John Lyall had spells at both clubs as manager with the Hammers from 1974 until 1989 and at Ipswich from 1990 until 1994.
Please note that the opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, nor should be attributed to, KUMB.com.
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