And still the agony goes on

HOW much longer can this be allowed to go on for?

Derek Davis

By Derek Davis

HOW much longer can this be allowed to go on for?

Stagnant Ipswich have now gone two months and five league games without winning at what was once a virtually impregnable Portman Road.


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The inability to be able to beat decidedly average sides like Blackpool at home means the Blues are once again going nowhere under a manager who seems incapable of getting anything from a team he has built over three years and spending in the region of �25m in transfers and wages over that period.

It is little wonder that the Town players did not face the media to explain to Ipswich supporters why they flopped once more and instead goalscorer Tommy Miller and debut-maker Luciano Civelli issued statements through the club.

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Perhaps they don't have answers as to why they were unable to break down the Seasiders. Certainly they could not trot out the usual 'they had five in midfield' excuse, as Blackpool played DJ Campbell and Gary Taylor-Fletcher up front and in the first half had decent opportunities toad to Alex Baptiste's 28th minute goal.

Maybe the players could not explain the lack of real desire and passion needed to separate the good from the mediocre or perhaps they didn't want to go through the usual 'we are behind the manager and team spirit is great' routine that is wearing thin.

Of course with 42 points still on offer no player is going to publically admit the play-offs are beyond their reach, although the under-fire manager came close to conceding defeat.

He can see that his team, for whatever reason, is not playing well enough to be in the mix. He insists the team is much better than the one that finished 14th in his first season and eighth last year, but there is little evidence of progress.

For all his spending and signings, all much of a muchness, he still resorted to using Dean Bowditch as a second half substitute.

This is the same Dean Bowditch who has not been good enough to play in the Championship for Ipswich since he went on as a sub against Luton in October 2006.

While he will always hold an affectionate part in Town fans' hearts he doesn't represent progress in any meaningful fashion.

It can only be hoped that with this season all but over for Town, people like Jordan Rhodes will be given a chance once his loan spell at Brenford is up.

A glimpse of the future came in the form of Luciano Civelli who made his debut on the left side of midfield.

The Argentinean showed signs of what he is about, a physical presence not unlike Jon Stead and a willing worker getting back to help out but little evidence of being a winger able to get past the full back on the outside and proving crosses for the front men.

Danny Haynes on the right flank, starting after Jon Walters went down with stomach bug, got the otherwise apathetic Town fans on their feet with some exciting runs leaving Stephen Crainey in his wake.

It was a Blackpool defender leaving the Blues backline trailing behind that broke the deadlock.

The goal stemmed from a bog standard throw in, David Fox threaded a neat ball past Alex Bruce and through to the full-back Baptiste who sprinted past Ben Thatcher and finished with a drive inside Richard Wright's near post.

The already silent Town crowd were stunned but showed great restraint in waiting until the end of the match before venting their anger and frustration with the 'Magilton Out' banners and calls for the manager to go.

More might have been said earlier but for his old mate Miller who cracked in just his fourth goal of the season.

Bruce strode forward purposefully from his own half, fed Pablo Counago and was looking for a return ball but the Spaniard held it for a moment before cleverly laying the ball into Miller's path and he finished with a low drive that went on off a post.

It was Town's first goal in almost five hours of football, another sign that all is not well and while they flattered to deceive they never really looked convincing enough to scrape a win.

Amazingly for a squad packed midfielders bought by a former midfielder, Ipswich struggle to unlock sides that are hard-working, organised and honest.

Civelli almost marked his debut with a goal after a loose ball fell to him but Baptiste cleared with a back heel.

Counago was similarly denied in his 200th Town appearance when Fox cleared off the line from his header and ex Norwich City keeper Matt Gilks saved from a spectacular Stead overhead kick.

But all in all Town laboured to a draw over an industrious side without any real quality who might have found a winner of their own if Taylor-Fletcher had been more convincing in front of goal, while Bruce made a stunning tackle to take the ball cleanly 12 yards out as Campbell bore down on goal.

Blackpool have struggled to finish with all 11 players in their past three games and Town were fortunate not to have Ben Thatcher sent off after he committed a string of fouls after already being booked.

All in all not good enough and it just can't be allowed to carry on.

derek.davis@eadt.co.uk

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