No 40 million to spend this time
I wonder how many times we shall hear the words, “Roy Keane’s Ipswich” these next few months? One almost wishes for the speedy appointment of Alan Shearer at Newcastle in order to divert some of the press attention from the man of Cork. We shall examine Keane’s legacy and prospects in a future post, although the man does have a determined, winning mentality and many a Championship fan will be envious of the so-called Tractor Boys (an appalling, focus group led nickname imposed on the club as recently as this decade). The Irishman probably doesn’t have the money to splash out 9 million on Craig Gordon this time, so what does he have at his disposal?
I saw Ipswich twice last season and they played well on both occasions. The passing style that Suffolk folk have become accustomed to was still very much in evidence and I am a little baffled as to how they finished in such a lowly position. Although Jon Stead’s 12 goals from 19 games hardly amounted to a career resurrection, this tally was creditable for someone previously hailed as a couldn’t hit a barn door merchant. Pablo Couñago continued to raise issues for opposing centre backs with his habit of dropping deep into the hole, but it was only after the loan signing of the now departed Giovani Dos Santos that Ipswich began to pose a serious threat. Keane has been attempting to sign Daryl Murphy from his old employers, but will need more than that to ensure a healthy goals for column.
It’s in midfield where Town are usually most impressive but also where the problems lie. Their most heralded player is right winger Jon Walters. Brilliant throughout 2007 and 2008, this year has seen an alarming drop off in form – possibly due to his head being turned by transfer talk. With his season ending in March due to injury, he will now need to get his head down and impress the steeliest of gaffers. Elsewhere across the centre line, Owen Garvan has been occupying the column marked promising for some time now and David Norris works hard, but the boyband barnetted Lee Martin has silky skills and will fit well with the pleasing nature of the team’s style.
At the back, Ipswich have a collection of grenadier guardsmen types including Gareth McAuley, Pim Balkestein, Alex Bruce and the first of several possible recruits from Keane’s homeland, Damien Delaney. This mammoth backline has been left shorn of two decent full backs in Dan Harding (now at Southampton) and Moritz Volz. Town will need to supplement their current wide resources quickly – and given Keane’s addiction to the transfer market, there will be every chance of that over the next three weeks.