And freeze we did. If I was one of those people who think it’s wicked to turn everything into a website address rather than an actual description, I’d say that it was

Gladly, I’m not.

It was disgracefully cold.

Anyway, it’s a bit of a shame that while we were all freezing anatomically in the stands, the players did the same for lots of the match –  only metaphorically. There were many poor touches and a lack of urgency, in the first half especially.

To be honest, that’s the main criticism I have – now for the cliché: We did what all good teams should do and won when we didn’t play very well.

It’s true though, there were some pretty dodgy performances out there. But the good thing was that this was balanced with some solid ones too. McIndoe, Barnett and Bell were all off the pace for most of the game. But Clingan was influential, Freddy is oozing confidence, and Stephen Wright had his best game of the season.

One thing I’m not very pleased about is the over-the-top criticism Leon Barnett though. Let’s put this into perspective for a minute; during our 3 match winning streak, Barnett was an ever present. So, there shouldn’t have been such surprise why he was brought back into the team. He couldn’t play against Portsmouth, but before that game him and McPake had been playing very well and forged a good understanding.

Yes, everyone can see that he had a very nervy game. I’m not denying that. But it’s too easy to jump on the bandwagon after one bad performance. I didn’t hear anyone saying that he was “the worst defender they’ve ever seen” during the winning streak.

Basically, just get a bloody grip. He had a mare, but he’s had plenty of good games too.

I suppose what makes this reaction seem even more strange is that on the pitch at the same time you have a player like Michael McIndoe who has consistently put in below-par performances this season.

He’s missing the edge he once had, and he’s just not a threat for us. Can’t blame anyone for this, because it happens – he was worth a punt given how he has performed against us in the past, and having a left-sided player on the left does give us good shape. But if you’re analysing his individual performance this season, it’s been a dramatic fall from grace for him. I read about how the opposition pick him out as a threat, but what does this actually mean? If he was playing against us this season, we’d do the same. I’m sure he loves the compliment, but it’s all based on reputation, rather than form.

What spoke volumes was that Carl Baker came on and managed to have more of an impact on the match in his 10 minutes, than McIndoe has in the last 10 games. Nice to have options on that side now.

Generally, it’s quite clear that we weren’t brilliant. But there were positives which we must take to the next game.

– How clinical we were in the first half to punish their lack of cutting edge. That’s such a vital quality.
– We looked far more likely to create opportunities than we did month or so ago.
– Clingan, Gunnarsson, Best, and Eastwood showed how good they are technically, and matched this with determination. So important.
– With everyone now fit, it’s great to see some options and real competition for places.

And I was very pleased to hear Coleman keeping their feet on the ground afterwards. Yes, we won and that is great which he acknowledged. But I think he’s realised over the last few weeks that we can’t accept a return to nightmare performances of November. What we have to do is make sure we don’t make the same mistakes again. We can’t play the same way against Ipswich – one thing Roy Keane demands is that they always win the physical battle and show more desire than the other team.

If we do that, and continue to show the footballing qualities of the last few weeks, we should be beat Ipswich. And we have to be looking to beat them if we’ve got any ambitions of pushing our way up the league.

Rather coincidently I read Roy Keane’s autobiography the other day. Whether you love him or hate him, the man is a winner. I’d recommend reading this if you want to get inside the head of someone who understands how you achieve in football. Also if you want to know why I waffle on about the importance of ambition and attitude, Roy Keane(‘s ghost writer) explains it in way that a mere spectator like me never could.

I’m considering sending a copy to our boys before the Ipswich game.

But first, the small hurdle of Portsmouth in the FA Cup to negotiate …

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