2010/11 might have been another season of mid-table mediocrity for Ipswich Town, but if you believe this campaign will be quickly forgotten, think again.
For better or worse, this season has given us plenty of moments which we will surely remember for a long time. A topsy-turvy Championship campaign, a brilliant Carling Cup run (and a very short-lived one in the FA Cup!) as well as a change of managers have all gone into making the past year something of a rollercoaster ride for Blues fans.
So, what memories will we keep of this campaign? Here’s Part One of our look back at the best – and worst – of Ipswich Town in 2010/11:
10. Off to a Flyer (Middlesbrough 1-3 Ipswich, 07 August 2010)
Oh, those halcyon days…! It seems absurd now, but when Ipswich arrived at the Riverside Stadium on the first day of the season, Middlesbrough were considered favourites for the Championship title. Having started last season in such dreadful fashion and facing the toughest possible opening fixture, few fancied Roy Keane’s side to take victory, particularly after Scott McDonald gave Middlesbrough a first-half lead.
How astonished we all were therefore when Tommy Smith and Tamas Priskin turned the match around in the space of two minutes before Jon Stead put the gloss on an excellent first day victory. To beat the title favourites on their own turf sparked hope of a great campaign to come for the Blues, and sure enough they started amongst the early pace-setters.
Alas, Town’s form did not last, and what’s more, in hindsight that triumph was not as impressive as it might have seemed. Far from the look of champions, Middlesbrough slumped to a dreadful start under former boss Gordon Strachan and ultimately finished in 12th – just one place above Town.
9. Return of the Prodigal Son (11 March 2011)
Considering how unpopular his predecessor became with the fans, it seemed new manager Paul Jewell was keen to win over the Ipswich faithful as quickly as possible. Aside from good form on the pitch – which was forthcoming – what better way to assure popularity than bringing back a former favourite? After 12 years away from his hometown club, Kieron Dyer’s arrival on loan from West Ham United was hailed as the return of Town’s ‘prodigal son’.
All sentimentality aside, Dyer was hardly spectacular upon his return, with just 1 start and 3 substitute appearances in which he looked a shadow of his former self before Avram Grant came-a-calling to take him back to Upton Park. Even so, Dyer’s homecoming was undoubtedly one of the stories of the season. It was a moment many probably thought would never come, but there he was, running about in Ipswich blue on the Portman Road turf once again.
8. Six of the Worst (09 November – 11 December 2010)
The axe was never too far from Keane’s head after an awful first season at Ipswich, but having initially looked like turning things around with a great start to the 2010/11 campaign, it was this nightmare run that ultimately cost the Irishman his job. A 2-0 loss at home to Derby set the ball rolling before the tide began to turn in that controversial 3-1 defeat to Barnsley, where the home crowd’s disapproval of the Keane regime was evident for all to hear as they booed the manager and even cheered the opposition’s passes.
A 1-0 reverse at Hull followed before the ‘Nightmare On Carrow Road’ (more on that one later) ensured Keane’s name would forever live in infamy at Ipswich. Despite a cup win against West Bromwich Albion on 1 December, good form didn’t translate to the league as the Blues fell to a 3-1 defeat to Swansea, and not even a trip to bottom of the table Preston could yield a single point.
The six straight losses – not to mention 9 defeats in 11 – was the club’s worst run in well over a decade and plunged the Blues from 6th to 18th. With confidence shattered, the wheels had most definitely fallen off Ipswich Town’s promotion campaign – and indeed, Keane’s tenure at Portman Road.
7. The ‘Miracle on Ice’ (Ipswich 3-0 Leicester, 18 December 2010)
Those six defeats left Keane and Ipswich on the brink, and rumours were rife that the Irishman would be sacked if the Blues made it seven on the bounce in front of the Sky cameras against Leicester City at Portman Road. Things weren’t helped by an incoming snowstorm which decided to start dumping its load right there on the pitch as the game kicked off. Surely a recipe for disaster.
Remarkably however, Ipswich came out all guns blazing and put on their best first half performance of the season so far. David Norris netted the opener and Jason Scotland managed a rare brace to put the Blues 3-0 up at the break. The trouble was, the snow wasn’t stopping. Doubts were already swirling at the interval as to whether the players would re-emerge for the second half, with Sven-Goran Eriksson and his Leicester players no doubt badgering young referee Stuart Attwell to call the game off.
With the way things were going for Town at the time, nobody would have bet against Attwell doing just that to rob the Blues of their biggest lead of the season and deprive them of three points they desperately needed. Even when the players did return for the second half on a pitch which was now almost completely white, a slip by Richie Wellens prompted Attwell to take everyone off again after 58 minutes. However, groundsman Alan Ferguson and his team worked their socks off to ensure that the game could resume 10 minutes later, and Town played out the remaining half hour to secure their first points in nearly two months with a memorable 3-0 victory. It might have been a farce, but nobody will forget it in a hurry.
6. Seventh Hell at Stamford Bridge (Chelsea 7-0 Ipswich, 09 January 2011)
Sadly the ‘Miracle On Ice’ was in vain as defeat to Nottingham Forest on 3 January – Town’s 10th loss in 14 matches – resulted in Keane being shown the door 4 days later. As if to compound the chaos at Portman Road, this debacle then came just 3 days after Keane’s departure. With the manager given his marching orders, poor old Ian ‘Charlie’ McParland was handed the unenviable task of preparing the Town players for a daunting FA Cup 3rd Round tie away to defending champions Chelsea – and with just a day’s training together too.
Despite a battling first half hour at Stamford Bridge, Salomon Kalou, Daniel Sturridge and a Carlos Edwards own goal left Ipswich 3-0 down at half-time before Sturridge’s second, a Nicolas Anelka strike and a double from Frank Lampard condemned Ipswich to a humiliating 7-0 hammering – the heaviest FA Cup defeat in the club’s history. So bad, you might have been laughing… were it not a reflection of the diabolical state of Ipswich Town Football Club at the time.
By Darren Campbell
Don’t forget to check out Part II of this feature as we bring you the top 5 most memorable (or forgettable!) moments of the 2010/11 season.
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