Take a look at the date of my last blog entry and you’ll quickly realise it coincided with Ipswich’s 5-3 win over Barnsley on December 10th.
You’d been well within your rights to chant at me: “you only blog when you’re winning”. But, the honest truth is I’ve been holding off posting for the last six weeks as there’s been so many elements to the soap opera of this season, you’re just never sure if you’ll keep up with the latest twist in the plot.
Since that crazy second-half display at Oakwell, Town followed it up with an unconvincing 1-0 win against Derby, but then had to wait another eight games to record their next three points, an equally ridiculous 5-1 home win against league leaders West Ham.
Between those two headline-grabbing performances though have been some real concerning and alarm-ringing episodes both on and off the field. Where do you start? Paul Jewell’s ill-judged comments towards assistant referee Amy Fearn after the late defeat to Birmingham at St Andrews or the series of shocking defensive lapses to surrender winning positions against Blackpool and Leeds?
The answer is they’ve all contributed to possibly the lowest confidence rating among fans for more than 25 years. In the same week Simon Grayson has lost his job at Leeds United, it still astounds a significant number of Town supporters that Paul Jewell has survived in his post this long.
Personally, I would’ve sacked him after the defeat at Birmingham and the media frenzy that followed the next morning from his “to a man, but not a woman” comment.
I felt at that point in time, he had lost all ability to instill confidence in his players and that luck was clearly not going to be on his side. Those who watched that game will rightly tell you Ipswich dominated for long periods and were more than worthy of three points. The following game at Elland Road saw Town take a first-half lead then capitulate with three howling errors to give the hosts a 3-1 win. At this point, I couldn’t see a way he could possibly continue as manager. Before all this, Town had also managed to allow Forest to score their only six goals in nine games. Truly embarrassing.
But then, out of the blue, from as right field as right fields go, an astounding 5-1 rout of West Ham.
How the hell did this happen? Speak to regulars who watch home and away and they’ll tell you it’s down to selecting a group of players hungry to prove themselves when handed the opportunity. Luke Hyam, Andy Drury and Tommy Smith are just three players who’ve been out-of-favour for long periods, but now appear to be thriving on the chance of a continued run in the side.
In fact, Drury has been nothing short of inspirational since his return from a loan spell at Crawley. The League Two side seemed extremely keen to keep hold of him and it’s not hard to see why.
The midfielder played a key part in the build-up to the goals against West Ham and has also found the back of the net against Leeds. Hyam, given his first chance in a blue shirt by Roy Keane last season and then quickly discarded, is back in the engine room of midfield and this week earning himself a one-year contract extension.
Smith, for a long time on the fringes as a centre back, has undoubted potential and looks like being ready to take responsibility in the absence of other talismanic figures in the squad.
Jay Emmanuel-Thomas finally looks to have found time to stop tweeting and start scoring, inspiration no doubt for his much-anticipated collaboration with pop pal Chipmunk!
Sadly, Town could not renogotiate loan deals to bring back either Keith Andrews or Danny Collins, but I’m sure all fans wish the pair well as they move on to their respective new challenges. The sole capture this transfer window of midfielder Ryan Stevenson from Hearts will have disappointed many, especially when other deals seemed so close to happening right up to the final few hours. But, the West Ham win shows we have the players in the squad for a fight and a fight it will continue to be with relegation still a huge threat.
I just hope our next win comes well before the next blog entry, otherwise I’ll be writing to you again when we’ve scraped a win at Hull on March 10!
Written by Adam Williams, We Are Going Up’s Ipswich Town blogger
Adam tweets at @adam_j_williams