Have you been thinking who could, or should, be player of the year in this season of underachievement? Wonder no longer, for if there were doubt before, your mind should now be clear. Not for the first time, and probably not for the last, Carlo Cudicini saved us deep in carrot crunching country.
There were more than a few of us puzzled by today’s team selection. I could understand Manu being out, as he seems to play one then rest one at the moment, but Lumpy on the bench with Joka in his place and Stanic starting again? Eidur dropped for Mikael I could live with. I suppose the thought was that Ipswich would be gagging for the win and we needed a solid holding player in midfield. Well we were half way there. Ipswich were poor, very poor. We were worse at times and just occasionally better. To give Joka his due, as he does take a large amount of stick, after a quiet first 15 minutes or so he had a very good game. One might even say outstanding by his own standards.
Jimmy had one of those days when all he could do was moan. He was caught in possession more times than I can remember and blamed everyone else for his poor performance. The first 45 minutes saw us muster basically nothing. A few shots on target, if that is what you could call them, but nothing that really challenged the ’keeper. They were no better until we were caught wide open at the back and JT, clearly thinking the Ipswich player was a bouncer, decided to give him a shove in the back. Penalty, and sadly no doubt about it. A solidly hit shot was once more brilliantly saved by Carlo.
During the half time break, and I beg for your forgiveness here, I committed a crime so awful that I hesitate to repeat it — I cheered Rottenham. Sorry, please forgive me, I promise to attend confession tomorrow and it will never happen again. The only excuse I — and in truth a few hundred others — can offer is that they were beating dirty, filthy Leeds. Whether that will be excuse enough when I reach the Pearly Gates, only time will tell.
Second half, little change. Lots of possession, lots of neat little passing and then it all fell down once we got near their penalty area. Jimmy switched to moaning at the hot dog seller as he had already had a pop at everyone else, and a bore draw seemed the only possible outcome. Sadly, Ipswich had not read the script, boring though it was, and thankfully Carlo had been up all night studying his lines. A well-taken free kick was somehow, once more, kept out. Then poor defending left George with a chance. Thankfully Carlo got his legs in the way and turned the ball away for a corner.
We made some changes, finally — Zenden on for Stanic (many cheers echoed around), Eidur for Mikael (should have been Jimmy) and Lumpy on for an out of sorts SDB. It made little difference at the end, apart from one effort from Jimmy that was well saved by the Tractor Boys’ ’keeper. A draw was probably a fair result, although if I was an Ipswich fan (and had straw coming out of my ears) I think I would have felt hard done by — until I opened another bottle of Badger juice.
So a little further away from dirty, filthy Leeds and finally laid to rest any claim we might have had about a Champions League place. Although, in truth, that little trough was hit some time ago. We cannot rely upon the Leeds scum slipping up any more and with games at Blackburn and the smog monsters to come (neither a happy hunting ground) we may yet pay the price for failing to pick up three points here. We shall see.