Town taught footballing lesson
Many Town fans were quietly confident we could pull off a shock result at Old Trafford. But as usual, we were taught a footballing lesson by Utd, in a 4-0 defeat...
What a surprise, another defeat at Old Trafford. Ipswich haven't scored in this part of Manchester since 1992, and that never really looked like changing. I'm not even going to consider how many goals we have conceded in that time. Even up against ‘weakened' opposition, Town were unable to impose themselves at the hands of the Champions and slumped to their heaviest defeat since promotion to the Premier League. A four nothing score line is perhaps a little flattering to United, as the final two goals came in the final minute when the fatigue of playing two games in a short space of was all but too visible, but that's no excuse. Town's downfall, yet again, was conceding weak goals early on.
George Burley picked a 5-3-2 system with Martijn Reuser again being left out. He was joined by Jermaine Wright on the bench, and in came Fabian Wilnis coming on at right back, with Makin on the left.
Sir Alex decided to give us a sporting chance, and made nine changes from the team that played Lille. But even without the likes of Beckham, Scholes, Van Nistelrooy, Yorke and Veron, on their own patch, the Reds were still too strong. To be fair, most of the players that were brought in were season internationals, such is strength of their squad.
It started off so well for the Town. The first ten minutes gave us much hope, as we looked bright and dominated possession. Then, unexpectedly it all went wrong. It was Ronnie Johnsen of all people, to first penetrate the Ipswich goal. Sereni looked to have saved his free header from a corner, but the lino had other ideas, and adjudged it to be over the line. It was another crucial 50/50 to go against us, and having watched it again on TV, I still don't think it was completely over the line. You only have to look how close Sereni was to the post, and the angle he palmed it towards the corner flag, to see it would be breaking the laws of physics to be completely over the line.
With the Old Trafford crowd finally awoken, it didn't take long for Utd to get a second. This time it was the man who did the damage last year, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. Our old friend Andy Cole attacked the Ipswich defence and unleashed a testing shot that Sereni could only parry. McGeal had stopped marking Solskjaer, who followed up and tapped the rebound neatly into the net.
The two goals had well and truly knocked the stuffing out of Town, and the enthusiam disappeared from the players. The players looked deflated, as Utd easily kept possession and Town made little impact during the rest of the half.
The second 45 minutes was actually much better for Town. They took the game to the home team, and although they didn't often looking like scoring, it certainly didn't look like the score line would finish 4-0.
Burley eventually succumbed to everyone's wishes and brought on Reuser and Clapham, and the change immediately improved Town's attacking abilities. Wilnis was also substituted for Jamma, and by far Town's best effort of the match and one that deserved a goal, was when Marcus Stewart had a point blank header saved from Barthez. The striker shimmied in between the Man Utd defenders and got on the end of a cracking Jamma cross. Had that gone in, we may have made a game of it, but typically, it went straight at Barthez.
The home crowd were already streaming out when Andy Cole put the result beyond doubt. A misplaced Magilton pass was picked up and soon that man Cole was bearing upon Sereni, and banged in his obligatory goal. He must wish he played us every week.
To add insult to injury, a minute later Solskjaer cruelly made it four, as he scored what looked like a cracking goal from a tight angle. The Norwegian striker could have claimed the wonder goal it looked, but fair play to him, he later admitted it was cross that took a nasty bobble and flew in.
This result, although not entirely unexpected, is still a bitter pill to swallow. You begin to wonder just when we are going to get a break, as we are long overdue a bit of luck now. We really didn't play that badly, but things just aren't going right at the moment. But Utd are awesome, and the ball often just seems to stick to them. A lot of people love to hate them, but to be fair they do play the game in the right way.
We could have done without this game, not just because of the fact it was so close to the Torpedo game, but also because the Town players are in need of a lift, a confidence booster, and they were unlikely to find it here. Burley has now got a very hard job in keeping the player's heads up. The famous Ipswich ‘team spirit' that we all heard so much about last season, is really going to be tested now.
A couple of question marks do hang over Burley's tactics again. I can't understand why Reuser wasn't in the starting line up if he was fit. He plays with passion, energy, and also happens to be our most creative player. Clapham is now due a return, as he has looked good for the last two games when he has come on. Wilnis, I'm afraid, is still rusty. Finidi was again quiet, and just doesn't seem to be finding space. I'm not sure if that is the system's fault, or his own, but he's undoubtedly got the talent and we need to use it more.
It's still 'early doors', and while our position is very worrying, it's not panic stations just yet. A couple of wins will see us shoot back up the table, but we are now in a relegation fight, and it's up to the players to respond. But at least we've got the hardest game of the season out of the way.
From The Terrace