By Giuseppe Muro
To say it’s been a difficult few weeks for Ipswich Town would be an understatement.
After a run of seven losses in nine games tonight’s Carling Cup Semi-Final opponents decided to part company with Roy Keane and move quickly to appoint Paul Jewell as manager.
Added to that, the Tractor Boys were thrashed 7-0 by Chelsea at the weekend.
So is this a good time to be facing the side from Portman Road? We spoke to Elvin King of the Ipswich Evening Star to get an opposition view on tonight’s game.
THE STORY SO FAR
Roy Keane came to Ipswich with huge expectations and there was tremendous optimism that he would bring the good times back to Portman Road. This season they won their first four away matches, including two in the Carling Cup, and were in the top three of the Championship in September. After winning at Sheffield United in November they went to sixth in the table but then lost their following six league games. They have only got four points from their last 27 and find themselves just three points off the relegation zone. They haven’t got going this season. You could argue that the squad isn’t as good as it was when Roy took over. They have shown themselves capable of doing well against the better sides in the division but they haven’t had the class to do it often enough.
THE NEW MAN IN CHARGE
Paul Jewell won’t be in charge for the first leg on Wednesday. That will be Ian McParland who was caretaker for the FA Cup game at Chelsea on Saturday. Paul was appointed on Monday but won’t officially be taking over the reins until Thursday, after the Arsenal game. He’s been staying away from the players and will be sitting in the stands making notes tonight. Jewell has been saying that obviously this is a huge game but the league is going to be paramount for the rest of this season. He wasn’t top of fans’ lists but I think they have accepted him. He is one of only three managers that has taken two separate clubs out of the second tier into the first. He took Wigan up, just ahead of Joe Royle’s Ipswich five or six years ago. I think the fans look upon him as having the pedigree and experience to take the club forward.
IMPRESSIONS OF ARSENAL
To be brutally honest, they would have stood a chance against West Ham or Birmingham but Arsenal is a different kettle of fish. Arsène Wenger seems intent on winning silverware this year and the Carling Cup offers a good chance for that. Over two legs it’s going to be very, very hard.
After 30 minutes it looked like it might have been Ipswich’s day but once Chelsea scored it was one-way traffic. Goalkeeper Martin Fulop, who incidentally let in seven playing for Sunderland at Stamford Bridge last season, made three very good saves at the end to keep the score down to single figures. It’s bound to have knocked the players’ confidence. McParland is saying that the game is behind them and they are looking to put things right against Arsenal.
It will be the first time Portman Road has had a near full house for some time. It’s an ideal chance to get the fans back on side because many have been voting with their feet, leaving Portman Road during Roy Keane’s reign.
CAUSE FOR CONCERN
They have got a number of injuries, unfortunately it will be a patched-up side again. Jason Scotland is their leading scorer but, as I understand it, he is struggling with a groin injury so he is very doubtful. You will be looking at young Connor Wickham who is only 17 up front and he has got a huge reputation. He will have a chance to show what he can do.