The Joe Royle Column

THERE was a little bit of Antipodean madness last weekend starting with Kevin Muscat on Saturday lunch-time and culminating on Sunday tea-time with Lucas Neill.

THERE was a little bit of Antipodean madness last weekend starting with Kevin Muscat on Saturday lunch-time and culminating on Sunday tea-time with Lucas Neill.

Muscat, and not for the fifth time never mind the first time, had a common-sense failure and stamped on Watford's Danny Webber.

Only he knows why he does these things. I'm told off the pitch he is a very affable lad and great in the dressing room but it is not the first time he has done daft things.

I'm sure Mark McGhee will be very unhappy with him having contributed to them losing the game after being level at 1-1 and probably on top.


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Then we saw Lucas Neill's tackle in the Blackburn game which we will give the benefit of the doubt. It was rash and possibly over-motivated but you feel for Jamie Carragher because there was no chance Neill was going to get the ball.

Graeme Souness and the lad himself have said it was not intentional and you have to believe them but it was a joint dose of Aussie madness.

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Lucas is a strong, competitive and committed player and it is a shame, especially for Jamie. I'm sure Lucas will look at the tackle and be somewhat embarrassed by it.

You can also understand Gerard Houllier's reaction and even though the lad apologised it won't make it hurt any less.

As for Milan Baros' break, there was no blame attached there, Marcus Babbel had made a fair challenge and these things unfortunately do happen in the game.

There was also a bit of madness in the Birmingham game with Darren Purse also getting red-carded after a similar sort of common-sense failure when he got carried away trying to get the ball back.

Birmingham had equalised and I imagine Louis Boa-Morte was a couple of strides away from being booked as it was for ungentlemanly conduct and Purse loses his head. While there was no malice it was stupid and I'm sure Steve Bruce was shaking his head at it all because he lost a player.

The referee had no choice in showing the red card and there had been incidents earlier on when he showed a red card. While we are always quick to criticise, we have to give credit where it is due and say he was absolutely right with all three cards. While we were all puzzled at the first one he was proved to be absolutely correct in that as well.

TALKING of broken legs all of us here wish David Johnson a speedy recovery. I know he was a popular player when he was here and he is someone I considered trying to buy when he was leaving here and I knew him very well when he was a youngster at Manchester United and when he went to Bury.

We know to our cost what a very good goal-scorer in this division he is so we wish him well.

WOULDN'T is be fantastic if a multi-billionaire fairy Godfather were to buy into Ipswich Town and pump millions into the club as Roman Abramovich has done at Chelsea and others are reportedly ready to do elsewhere?

Tradition is great and you have to have it. We spoke about West Ham's tradition in this column last week compared to Reading's and we have a great tradition here. But equally in our current demise a cash injection would be marvellous.

So if there are any Russians or whatever that want to help us on our way then please call.

We have seen at Chelsea it doesn't necessarily mean an overhaul of the club or a major exodus. I'm sure our fans would welcome it.

Having said that there are inherent problems as I mentioned when this first happened and keeping players happy is going to be a juggling act.

We have already seen with Damien Duff and Joe Cole making noises that players can get unhappy with squad rotation.

The manager must know what his best side is and when the big games, your Manchester United and Arsenal, are the opposition, that is when you play your best side and all the players want to be in that XI.

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