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Lowdown on Ipswich

Posted on 21 December 2001  - 12:00

Tottenham Hotspur (Spurs) Football Club is located in North London. The club is also known as Spurs. Tottenham's home ground is White Hart Lane. The club motto is Audere est Facere (To dare is to do).

Ipswich are in a spot of bother. Had, this time last year, you attempted to read the tea leaves and came up with the predicament the Suffolk outfit are currently in - you would more likely changed your brand of tea than headed down the bookmakers.

Last season Ipswich were the form horses, making a mockery of the theory that promoted teams generally struggle in the rarified air of the Premiership.

They finished fifth in the table, enjoyed an away wins record equalled only by the Uniteds of Manchester and Leeds, securing a well-deserved UEFA Cup spot as reward for their endevours. For a lengthy period it was more than conceivable that Ipswich would be lining up in this season's Champions League.

But that would be for later. A UEFA spot was to be celebrated and a higher sphere would be targeted in due course. Ipswich were on the up. It just hasn't quite panned out that way and simply remaining in the Premiership looks an objective that might just have them at full-stretch.

The 'experts' reason that the surprise element has now evaporated and teams now know what to expect from George Burley's side, working on the basis that season two is always tougher than the opener.

This may be true up to a point, but possibly does not explain such a dramatic decline - why a team who footballed with the best of them last term now appear to be a coupon banker for defeat.

More clues might be found in the personel changes around Portman Road. New faces were picked but have not neccessarily mixed. Names like Pablo Counago, Tommy Miller, Finidi George, Matteo Sereni, Thomas Gaardsoe and Ulrich Le Pen were added to the cocktail without perhaps enhancing the flavour of a popular tipple, while long-serving retainers like Richard Wright and Jamie Scowcroft decamped for pastures new.

The loss of Wright was one Ipswich did not wish to suffer. The young England goalkeeper is chasing a place in England's World Cup squad and felt his ambitions would be better served with a higher profile club.

His departure was a blow, but this has to qualified by the fact that his successor Sereni has been one of the plus points of the season and is a more than capable keeper.

Perhaps the real key to unlocking the mystery of Ipswich's current plight is the biting effects of injuries. George Burley was fortunate last season in being able to effect a consistency of selection allowed by not having to chop and change a winning formula due to injuries.

This enabled Marcus Stewart to make his mark on the Premiership, scoring 21 goals and having his case pushed for England recognition. Matt Holland was able to showcase his talents as one of the most capable and consistent midfielders in the business and Titus Bramble had scouts flocking to see the new central defensive kid on the block.

They were all performing within an established and well-rehersed system that did not suffer the winds of change too often. Bar the loss of Mauricio Taricco and Kieron Dyer, the nucleas of the side remained pretty much the same as the one that delighted Division One crowds during their quest to break the play-off jinx that saw them falter at the crucial hurdle for three seasons running.

It is a return to that battle Ipswich are now desperate to avoid.

Predictors of doom might just be a tad premature, we are not yet half way through the season, but Ipswich's one win so far does not make for encouraging reading.

Ipswich need to return to the brand of football that put Spurs to the sword during the last festive season. It shows how fickle football can be, it is now Spurs earning the plaudits for style and Ipswich now need to scrap.