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Talk of the Town - an exclusive weekly look at Ipswich Town
ESSEX COUNTY STANDARD TOWN CORRESPONDENT MATT PLUMMER DELIVERS HIS WEEKLY THOUGHTS ON THE NEWS FROM PORTMAN ROAD: In the end, it was a bridge too far.
Ipswich’s Carling Cup adventure is over and so too are their hopes of Wembley.
At least they did themselves and their 9,000 travelling fans proud with a brave and industrious performance at the Emirates.
Town were great, for an hour at least, and as the clock ticked I dared to dream.
Arsenal were rattled and, at one point, it seemed the impossible (or what many deemed the impossible) might be on.
Two goals in three minutes soon put paid to such positivity, although one at the other end would, of course, have meant extra-time.
I think most of us knew the game was up at that point, though.
Town’s best hope was to protect their lead from the first leg, something they made a great fist of for 60 minutes.
Damien Delaney and Gareth McAuley were outstanding at the back while Mark Kennedy used all his nous and experience to revel in the holding midfield role, protecting the back four.
After going behind, though, you sensed it was always going to be a tall order to get back in the game.
I can’t think of any genuine goal-scoring chances and if you levelled one criticism at the side, it would be their lack of creativity.
That might be harsh, given the phenomenal opposition, but I don’t think they would have scored had the game lasted until midnight.
As we know, scoring goals has been an issue all season – although thankfully not against Doncaster on Saturday – and that’s why I’m so pleased Jimmy Bullard is on his way to Portman Road.
To me, it’s a cracking signing, albeit only on loan, because the midfielder is undoubtedly fit to grace the Premier League.
He’s a class act and a creative force, not least with his set-pieces, and he could provide just what the team is lacking at the moment. Assuming he stays fit.
Paul Jewell managed Bullard at Wigan and, having sealed the deal yesterday, it’s a real coup heading into Tuesday’s match at Derby.
Jewell has really impressed me in his first fortnight in the job.
I feel he can do a very decent job for the club but, more than anything, I really like him as a person.
It’s still early days of course, in terms of his relationship with the local media, but he strikes me as extremely down to earth, affable and jovial.
Chalk and cheese with former boss Roy Keane.
Talking of managers, I thought Portsmouth’s Steve Cotterill was out of order when he stated David Norris wants to join Pompey.
The word is that a £250,000 bid has been turned down for the Town skipper.
Cotterill is an experienced man, though, and it was wrong and unethical to publicly talk about a player under contract elsewhere.
If Norris wasn’t such a consummate professional, it could have turned his head and distracted him heading into the Arsenal game. The issue does raise a valid point, though, and that is the number of players whose contracts expire in the summer.
On one hand, you could argue it might be a good thing.
Jewell has a chance to seriously assess his squad, releasing some players but tying down the ones he wants to keep.
It means he’s not handicapped by a group of players on long and lucrative contracts.
On the other hand, the situation raises genuine fears that the team could be ripped apart.
The nucleus of Tuesday’s team could quite feasibly move on and it would certainly be a blow to lose top players like Norris and Gareth McAuley.
Either way, the problem clearly needs addressing as soon as possible before the vultures start circling around Portman Road.