Saturday, May 22, 2010

End of Season Report

This blog is a tiny bit late. I have six very important exams coming up, so writing this on a Saturday night is a nice break from revision. So, Ipswich Town's season ended up being plain old nothingness. Even the papers couldn't be arsed with us. The national press were bored of Roy Keane, with the 3-0 defeat on the last day of the season conjuring up very little.

I have never witnessed such dire football across an entire season. In the odd match, yes (Southampton 2008/2009, Rotherham many moons ago) but from start to finish? Bleurgh. Yes, there were bright spots. That run after Christmas was very enjoyable. But apart from that, nothing really sticks out. We drew 20 games. Try and pick out your highlights from that.

So now we move on into late May, waiting for the pre-season fixtures to come out and the movement to begin in the transfer market. I heard that Stoke were impressed by Jon Walters' performance on the last day of the season. Well, someone had to be. By his standards, he's had a shocking season. But then, he was at his peak a couple of seasons ago and we held onto him thinking he was the key link in the side. We're not going to get Colback, but he faded out towards the end. In Norris and Leadbitter we have two similar players.

What needs to happen is the squad needs to be trimmed. Get rid of the rot. Even if you signed them last year. Try and get rid of them. Dress them up, make them look pretty. Tell lies. I don't care. Just make the squad smaller so there's a higher chance of selecting the same team next season. You know, a settled side, where they don't feel as though one bad game will mean a good two months on the sidelines.

The rot, in my eyes, does not include the Wrights. Yes, Richard Wright is knocking on a bit, but he seems far more stable than Brian Murphy. I don't know why Keane dropped Arran Lee-Barrett. He really helped out in the good times in December. Murphy may have a good kick, but most of the time it goes in an unintentional direction. And David Wright. I don't care if you go to Norwich. I won't boo you. You don't deserve it because you've given me some very happy memories over the years, like scoring the equaliser in my first away East Anglian derby. You've been treated like crap by Keane. So has Stead. I would love Stead to come back but at the moment he appears in the wilderness.

Having watched a rather exciting play-off final, it left me wondering. Why can't we play like those guys? Why do we have such a one dimensional outlook? We played well in the first half against Forest, yet in the second got trounced. Because Forest changed their game plan. We did not. 

I'm not one for calling for the manager's head. But if we start off where we left off again then it's going to be a long old season next time. June 17th the fixture list comes out. August 31st the transfer window closes. It's going to be a long summer, made even longer by the rumblings in South Africa...

Ah yes, the World Cup. Where the nation becomes insane and stories of foreigners hating the English flag/shirts begin to crop up to fuel xenophobia and make national pride soar into the unbelievable. "LOOK. I'M WEARING AN ENGLAND SHIRT" - Congratulations. Let me go express my joy with a sarcastic cheer. Everywhere you turn there's a flag of St George. They're sold in every supermarket, given in deals with tabloids and will probably be handed out on street corners should England do well. If not, you can probably pick one up at your local recycling plant when the inevitable crushing disappointment hits the country.

I highly doubt England will do well. But then I'm biased. I'm not a big fan of the national team and I'm very much a club before country person. This is because I'm
a) more Welsh, Northern Irish and Scottish blooded than I am English
b) not a big fan of the majority of the footballers that play for England. 

I'm happy to support the England cricketers. (Congratulations to them by the way. Top effort. Unnervingly good, but superb. I haven't had time to create an 'I'm overjoyed by this' blog, but will probably do something mid-July when the moaning about how none of the team are actually English comes to a peak) This is because they can be related to, you can talk to them easily and they seem like genuinely nice people. Out of the two England captains, Andrew Strauss and Rio Ferdinand, Strauss seems the type of bloke you'd like to have a beer with whilst discussing fine literature and laughing at some intricate joke. Of course, these are just terrible stereotypes. And probably make me sound like a crazed stalker.

So when June 11th comes round and the World Cup begins, I shall be watching, but as a neutral. I feel excited, like I was for Euro 2008, for the reasons of football. I have no idea who will win. I don't really care who wins. It's in South Africa, which is brilliant. Yes, it still has strong racial tension, but football can bring a nation together. It does in England. Non-football fans suddenly know who's playing in goal, what a winger is and why Wayne Rooney's left foot is so important. Ah, what a wonderful time it will be. All those expectations that will be dashed as soon as England kick off against the USA.

I have enjoyed all these adverts getting behind England though. They're a load of rubbish (yeah, Wayne Rooney's totally going to live in a caravan), but very funny. That Carlsberg advert, with "probably the best team talk in the world" gives me goosebumps. Especially the bit where they say, "For Bobby".

Anyway. This season saw a superb rant by a frustrated QPR fan. And I echo many of his sentiments (apart from the female journalists jibes. Cheers mate. Thanks for encouraging my dreams).
So, inspired by the QPR fan, here is what has made me angry over this season as an Ipswich fan enduring a torrid season. And what has made me begin to wonder whether I am falling out of love with the national game:

I hate Alan Hansen, Mark Lawrenson, Alan Shearer, Steve Claridge and every other ex-footballer who thinks they know everything about the game.
I hate how every single national newspaper were humping Newcastle's leg for the entire season and forgot that there were other teams in the Football League.
I hate the fact that Leeds seem to think that they're brilliant, despite the fact they finished second and were pretty close to cocking everything up. Again. 
I hate how Leeds fans will enjoy the previous statement.
I hate the fact the Football League has decided to make the gap between enternally Championship sides and yo-yo sides even bigger due to parachute payments.
I hate the New Wembley. 
I hate that the seats around the tunnel are always empty apart from at England games.
I hate that the press kick up a fuss about the pitch when a team they didn't expect to win wins. Blackpool and Cardiff got on with it. Millwall, Swindon, Rotherham and Dagenham and Redbridge will all get on with it. Man up.
I hate owners that think just because they're putting money into the club they have every right to run it. No. You don't support the bloody team, you pretend you do. 
I hate that you have to have money to be successful.
I hate that only limited numbers of people know what our club's owner looks like.
I hate that some Ipswich fans think we should keep Roy Keane as manager because he's famous.
I hate that some Ipswich fans think that being a family club isn't good. So you want scenes like at Luton? Good one.
I hate that flares are coming into British football. I'm sorry, when you hear a 5 year old on the phone to their father in the terraces saying, "I was scared for you dad", you know that something isn't right.
I hate how over-hyped the Big Four are. However, I have loved the demise of Liverpool this season.
I hate how over-hyped the last day of the Premiership was and yet Sky Sports didn't give a shite about League One, which was actually entertaining and had a higher chance of something unlikely happening. 
In fact, I hate how the Premiership is over-hyped every single season. "It'll be exciting this season. Honest. GET SKY SPORTS!"
I hate Clive Tyldesley.
I hate Peter Drury.
I hate ITV football coverage.
I hate seeing kids at Portman Road wearing Chelsea, Manchester United or Inter Milan hats, shirts or whatever else. You're at Portman Road. You're here to watch Ipswich Town. We may be crap, but at least you have the chance to watch us. 

I hate that Norwich have done well this season. (I'm bitter. Leave me alone)
I hate Robbie Cowling and his unbearable self-promotion. 
I hate the fact I don't have a season ticket anymore.
I hate that I haven't seen Ipswich win away since January 2009.
I hate the fact we're going to finish bottom half of the table again next season. Or worse.

But most of all, I hate that football has made me into a cynical, miserable and pessimistic 18 year old. Then again, I wouldn't have that any other way.
The end of an era as I kiss my season ticket and Ipswich Town's season goodbye. 
Miserable weather, miserable game, miserable season. 

Ah, that's better.