Looking Forward



Premier League

Saturday 30th December 2000

Who would have thought that Ipswich would be around the top of the table come Christmas time ? Ipswich fans that's who !!  But seriously, I don't think even they would have considered their side as a top six team at this stage of the season, but full credit to them. They are where they are on merit and have played some decent football along the way.  George Burley has crafted a side likely to be comfortable from relegation, which was probably their first priority this season.

The forward line has been functioning very well, even without David Johnson scoring regularly.  Marcus Stewart has found the Premier League to his liking and Alan Armstrong marked his debut for the Town against Southampton with a double.  Scowcroft has also got three goals this season, while other forwards have been having a hard time of it.  Goals have also come from Holland in midfield and Wilnis from defence, where he plays alongside former Spur Jamie Clapham.  Many are touting him for the troublesome England left back slot and many would perhaps rather see him than Thatcher in that position for Spurs, but he is an attacking full back, who can also slot the ball away.

In the centre of defence, Herman Hreidarsson has lined up with John McGreal to provide a tall and powerful combination.  Standing in front of Richard Wright, they have stopped lots of the aerial attacks, while Wright remains one of the most promising keepers in the country.  Mark Venus has also been featuring in defence and has the knack for popping up at set-pieces and blasting free-kicks when they are in range of a strike on goal.  Youngster Titus Bramble had been interesting Spurs for about a year before he broke into the first team with a bang.  A big, strong central defender, he has the confidence of youth to move forward with the ball and has jumped into the England Under-21 set-up in double quick time.  Another White Hart Lane star, John Scales could be ready to return to first team action against Spurs after being out injured (don't laugh).  Gary Croft, now let off his electronic tag from prison), may feature if injuries are sustained.

The midfield of Ipswich's side is where all the hard work is done.  Matt Holland is a box to box player who can make things happen.  His prompting and coverage of the pitch would make him a real asset to any side.  Jim Magilton has been around for years and despite his Gazza mannerisms and approach to the game, can be very effective in terms of creating and taking goals.  Jermaine Wright, signed from Crewe Alexandra, has been a shrewd purchase, as he too can arrive in the box to get on the end of an Ipswich move.  Richard Naylor has had few chances this season, but as he proved in the play-off final last season, he has the temperament for a big occasion.

Without doubt, this will be a good match.  A lot will depend on what has gone before in the Christmas games running up to this fixture, but despite being painfully inept away from home, I think Spurs might just prefer to play against a team who try and play football than approach the match with a "points at all costs" mentality.

PREDICTION : -  Ipswich Town 0  Tottenham 1

For more information on the opponents and their history, including full result history of matches between the two teams, click here.



Ipswich Town 3  Tottenham 0   -  Saturday 30th December 2000

Weather : Cold, bright.
Crowd : 22,234
Referee : M. Messias (York)

Scorers : Ipswich Town - Goals: Stewart 9, Armstrong 62, Clapham 88.
                 Tottenham - None.

Ipswich Town : R. Wright, Bramble, Hreidarsson, Wilnis (McGreal 82), Venus, Holland, Reuser, J. Wright, Alun Armstrong (Johnson 80), Scowcroft, Stewart (Clapham 85).
Subs not used : Branagan, Croft

Tottenham Hotspur:  Sullivan, Campbell, King, Thelwell, Perry, Anderton, Korsten (Rebrov 80), Clemence, Sherwood (Davies 80), Leonhardsen, Doherty.
Subs not used : Walker, Gardner, Chris Armstrong

Humiliation is the only way to describe this latest away defeat at Portman Road.

George Graham apologised to the Spurs fans after the game for the performance. The apology was justified, the performance abysmal. George should also apologise for his team selection. I know he has some injuries, but based on the principle if they are fit enough to sit on the bench then they are fit enough to play there can be no explanation why he started with Doherty and Korsten up front and Rebrov and Armstrong on the bench. Gary Doherty is a young player of some promise. He will not develop and learn his trade by being thrust into this Spurs team to play alongside Korsten. Willem Korsten has yet to prove he is a Premier Division footballer. He does not jump, is one paced and looks totally disinterested in what is happening. His only attribute is a good left foot shot, but he rarely works to get himself in a position to use it. He is lazy and made a negative contribution to the Spurs cause in this game. Rebrov clearly needs to familiarise himself with the pace and physical nature of Premiership football and he won’t do that on the bench. So George, for the second consecutive game, you got it wrong tactically.

Ipswich are a well organised team who work together and for each other. Against Spurs they were given the space they required. There was hardly a tackle made in anger. There was not one yellow card, nor was one justified. If Spurs are to change their away form they need to start by competing and getting stuck in. They played this game like they did not care. Perhaps they don’t care. The manager George Graham is certainly unpopular with the fans. The skipper Sol Campbell refuses to talk about his future and looks likely to leave the club at the end of this season. Not what I would describe as inspirational leadership. One of our most capable players Darren Anderton is also out of contract in a few months time and has yet to agree his future.

Ipswich’s first goal came early in the first half. Thelwell was exposed by Holland and caught the wrong side. The cross came in and found Ipswich attackers queuing up unmarked to put the ball away. Stewart obliged. Strangely enough Ipswich did not add to their tally before half time. Spurs did not have a single goal attempt in the first half.

The first attempt on goal from Tottenham came after about 55 minutes. It was a feeble effort by Doherty from the edge of the box, which Wright saved easily. It was memorable because it brought a standing ovation from the Spurs following. This was followed by a Spurs chant of  “Shot on target, We had a shot on target…..” and then a chorus of “Can we have another shot?” Not ideal encouragement for the Tottenham team, but an accurate reflection of the frustration of the Spurs fans.

Just after the hour came the inevitable second Ipswich goal. Again the Spurs defence was exposed as Armstrong steered in a low cross. Eventually Korsten had a left foot shot which Wright easily saved, but Ipswich were in total control and they hit the woodwork twice, including a spectacular overhead kick by their centre half Titus Bramble. The third goal came from substitute and former Spur Jamie Clapham. He had only just arrived when he found himself unmarked with an easy tap-in. This was after a clear offside that the Assistant Referee missed leading to the cross. The disappointment was it didn’t really matter. The scoreline could have been worse but for some good saves by Sullivan.

The Spurs players left the field dejected. They need to have a long hard look at their performances and toughen up and play with pride. The next away game is at Orient. Defeat there is not beyond the realms of possibility for this side and would be a disaster for the club. With Sugar now out of the firing line the fan's wrath is all aimed at George. He needs his players to play for him. 


Eric the Viking


Second Best


Another ineffectual display away from White Hart Lane really showed up the deficiencies of the Tottenham team who were comprehensively out manoeuvred by the home side.  Ipswich were faster to the ball, better passing throughout the game and their players moved intelligently off the ball.  After yesterday's demand by Stephen Carr for Sol Campbell to declare what his intentions were, I don't think it will be necessary for him to reveal exactly where he will be on New Year's Day or who with.  This Spurs team is going to win nothing.

Too many players who appeared to be in good form last season are struggling desperately this time.  Perry is less than half the defender we always faced when up against Wimbledon.  Sherwood is a shadow of the player he was last season as he gives away possession, misses tackles and ambles about the pitch.  Leonhardsen runs around, but to little effect.  Anderton was guilty of giving the ball away on many occasions today and his crosses were rarely onto a white shirt.  Even Sol himself might have lost some of the potential suitors for his hand (and feet) with a display which saw him lose his man for two of the goals.  GG will point to the fact that we had to play a lot of youngsters because of the injuries suffered recently, but the real problem lies deeper than that.  Their relative inexperience is not an excuse he can use to pass off another disappointing performance.  It comes down to the basics not being employed by the team.

Korsten came in to partner Doherty up front, with them looking like fish out of water for the majority of the match.  Korsten looks like he is the sort of player who expects things to fall to him rather than have to make them happen, while Doherty might well turn out to be a better centre half than forward - his touch certainly seems more suited to the position further back in the team.  King was a spectator for most of the time as the ball by-passed him, with clearances hit forward more in hope than accuracy and when he did get into the game, there were precious few options for him to use the ball.  Thelwell had a tough task, especially in the first half when he was left unguarded on their left wing, where they capitalised on the man out of the play.  Davies was given 10 minutes or so at the end when he came on for Rebrov, but neither had much opportunity to do anything of note.  What Spurs need to do, is dig in and battle with the other side away from home.  Then when they get the ball, make space and use it - something that Ipswich did all game.

Going one down in 8 minutes didn't help, but the Ipswich players were queuing up at the far post to score when Stewart scrambled the ball in past Sullivan.  From that point the outcome was virtually assured as Tottenham never looked like opening up a hard working unit who were unlucky not to be more than one up at half time.  In the second half, only the bar stopped Spurs being taken to the cleaners, but even then two more from Alun Armstrong and Clapham finishing low crosses into the box made it a comprehensively depressing day out (aren't they all) for Spurs.  Even the fact that there were two offsides in the third goal can't disguise the fact that Spurs were never in it.  What they need to be is more like Ipswich.  Not too many intricate passes, but play the ball in to feet and get up to support the player with the ball.  One of their most dangerous players was Hreidarsson in the first half.

For all the supposed skill and experience in the Tottenham side (even with others out), there was little on show and it was a shoddy showing that can only damage all the hard work done at home.  It is down to the manager to make Spurs hard to beat, even if they are not going to win away from home.  I know there is no magic wand, but we are getting rolled over by virtually everyone and we still have some very difficult away games to come.  By starting to get a team who can work hard would be a good start, but they must play for each other and work together to hold the ball and open up the other side.  If the video of this match is played back on Monday morning, they should watch how the Town players did it.

Benny The Ball


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