On this week in Town’s history: Lisbie felt like a ‘piece of meat’ and Keane’s men hit rock bottom
- Credit: Ashley Pickering
Football writer CARL MARSTON recalls a week in Ipswich Town’s history, this time from 11 years ago when Roy Keane’s men hit rock bottom
There is just one position separating the Ipswich Town class of 2009-10, and the current Town set-up, although it is a big one position!
Paul Lambert’s men are currently flying high at the top of League One, in 45th spot on the Football League pyramid.
Exactly eleven years ago, Town were in the doldrums and yet still one place higher in the pyramid – Roy Keane’s men were propping up the rest of the Championship division, in 44th spot on the ladder.
In fact, by the middle of October Town had still not won a league match, despite the normal August start to the season as opposed to this year’s delayed start due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
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I was covering Town week in, week out, during the Keane era, and mid-October, 2009, was not a happy time for anyone.
In fact, I spent most of this week, from 11 years ago, writing endless stories of struggle and depression, even though there wasn’t actually a match between October 3 and October 17 due to the international break!
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For instance, a dismal 2-1 defeat at Barnsley, at the beginning of the month, had prompted me to pen a story in support of Keane, under the headline – ‘Keep faith with Roy.’
Such stories usually pre-empt a manager’s departure, although on this occasion Keane did survive, even though his team had failed to win any of their first 11 league matches to set a new unwanted record as the worst start to a campaign in the club’s history.
During this week, in 2009, Town were five points adrift of safety, and without a fixture until a home tussle with Swansea City on October 17.
I wrote at the time: ‘Now is not the time to give up on Roy Keane.
‘When he was appointed as Jim Magilton’s successor in April, Keane set a target of bringing Premier League football back to Ipswich in two years.
‘He therefore deserves a chance to fulfil that ambition, however desperate the current position seems to be.’
In hindsight, I was probably wrong, just as Town’s hierarchy no doubt lived to regret Keane’s appointment to the hot seat.
But at the time, it’s important to remember that there were no chants of “Keane out” from supporters, and no calls to “sack the manager” – not among Town fans at least!
Later this week, from 2009, I wrote a story which summed up Town’s current plight, concerning striker Kevin Lisbie, who had been farmed out on loan to neighbours Colchester United.
Lisbie was set to be recalled by Town, with a possible move to another club on the cards during the January transfer window.
This had incensed the striker, who had not even heard from Keane. He was in a fiery mood when I telephoned him that week.
“I see that Roy Keane has said that there are a few clubs interested in me, but the problem is that I’d like him to speak to me first,” blasted Lisbie.
“I’d like Roy to call me. I knew nothing about this recalling me, so it’s a horrible way to find out.
“To be honest, I feel like a piece of meat. Roy sent me out on loan without even seeing me play one game.”
As it happened, Town did not in the end recall Lisbie from his loan stint at Colchester. He stayed at the Essex club and ended up their top scorer with 13 goals.
Better news arrived on October 14, 2009, with keeper Asmir Begovic’s arrival on loan from Portsmouth. Begovic was set to stay until at least January, but in the end he only played six games for Town over six weeks, before being recalled by Pompey due to an injury to keeper David James.
Even so, Begovic can be regarded as one of Keane’s better signings.
The Bosnian international made his debut at the end of this week, 11 years ago, in a 1-1 home draw against Swansea City.
Town again played well in patches, only to see their poor run extend to 12 league matches without a victory to remain at the foot of the Championship table with a mere six points accrued.
Pablo Sousa’s Swansea took the lead early on, Craig Beattie running onto Angel Rangel’s through ball to fire past Begovic on seven minutes. Town equalised just seven minutes later, Pablo Counago and Jaime Peters exchanging a one-two with the Spaniard coolly slotting home.
But Town could not find a winner, which prompted me to write a story at the end of the week confirming that Keane’s men were now the only club from the 92 Football League and Premier League clubs to be without a win.
Even dreadful Darlington, bottom of the whole League, had managed to break their duck!
TOWN: Begovic, Rosenior, McAuley, Smith, Wright, Peters (sub Martin, 73), Leadbitter, Trotter (sub Colback, 90), Quinn (sub Wickham, 61), Walters, Couagno.C