I was thinking what to call this report and I thought ‘bad day at the office’ had it covered. I also had the nasty suspicion I would have used it before this season so I did a quick search and guess what? I had used it for Ipswich away. That report had been garnered from a mixture of listening to the radio, reading reports , talking to friends and watching the highlights so, to be fair, it was a bit of a punt (yes that was deliberately spelled with a P, we’re not on to talking about Johnny Williams yet). Yet I watched all the game yesterday and it seemed an apt enough description. But given it applies to both Ipswich games perhaps there’s a bit more to it. I shall return to this at the end.
Where to start with this game? Unbridled optimism, that’s where. We came in to it on the back of two 2-0 wins. The Boy has recently started playing football. He broke his leg when he was three in a trampoline accident. It zapped his confidence, making him think everything would hurt and has left him with an unusual running style. I have never been able to teach him football and yet the coaches at his club have shown a remarkable improvement in him in only three weeks. They are miracle workers. They are also Brighton fans. So are a few of the dads. The feeling at Saturday morning’s training was that we were in for another win. So while they might be miracle workers don’t ask them for the lottery numbers.
On Twitter everyone seemed confident. There hadn’t been a doom and gloom thread on NSC for seemingly ages. On the train over it emerged that lovely Billy Davies was being smashed by his old club in the Brian Clough derby. There was a chance a win in the afternoon would put us in the playoff places. Plus I had my lucky hat with me. The hat that mesmerised QPRs millionaires in to a team that couldn’t shoot for toffee. Game on.
Also, there’s nothing like beer to raise your confidence levels. Different things need different beer levels I find. I am an excellent pool player after two pints. After three my darts skillz are at their peak (I’ll never quite forget that reverse 120 checkout with pike at the Three Jolly Botchers the second the last of the third pint of Old Grunter hit the spot). Five pints is necessary for me to talk sense and about eight is sufficient for talking to a girl or strangers which is why I spent most of my twenties single and friendless.
Two pints is ideal to give you confidence that Brighton will win a football match and so I took my seat knowing, just knowing, we were about to smash the Tractor Boys. Sure, after the first pint I had predicted a 1-0 loss but now I was at optimum. Oh dear.
Ipswich are big and organised, the sort of side we often struggle against. Each deficiency in our game was mercilessly exposed. I will now conduct my match report in the form of going through how our players were exposed (or not in just a couple of cases). PIG’s distribution was again terrible, two of his kicks could easily have set up another Ipswich goal. He was also at fault for their goal, showing a Brezovan-esque lack of wanting to come and claim a corner. Lingard was a powder puff, constantly knocked off the ball and panicking when clean through on goal because he could hear a defender somewhere. The real Rohan Ince was off helping Chuck Norris save the world so he sent along his twin brother Simon who spent the afternoon giving the ball away. Ulloa was constantly offside, either mistiming runs or making ones which were too good for the rest of the team. JFC was average. Again. Bruno played some sublime passes but also picked up another silly booking. Ipswich’s second goal came from an area that any decent right back would have dealt with.
Positives? Upson and Greer were mostly solid (but shame about the first goal). Andrews showed why he had replaced Stephens. But if you could pick out a MOM (and it was hard) it would have been Stephen Ward who looked untroubled at left back and regularly set Lingard away to get knocked over. Ipswich? You have to say they took their goals well and they rarely looked in trouble.
Afterwards I went down to the West Lower bar for the traditional putting the world to rights over beer. “It was Garcia’s fault” said friend one (though you could substitute the names Poyet and McGhee in his analysis after almost any defeat under those managers). Maybe today he had a point? Certainly for someone who is ‘obsessed by attacking football’ we don’t do a lot of it. I theorised that perhaps we don’t have players who are quite good enough to carry out the instructions of a manager who has spent more or less all his career around Barcelona and Johan Cruyff. This is Brighton not Brazil. Someone else said the same thing had been suggested of Roy Keane’s managerial career. What is certain is that, just when we seem to be on a run that will finally make a difference we blow it. We are inconsistent, frustrating and, at home, too defensive. Eighth place looks a certainty.
As I walked back to Falmer station after an entertaining conversation that had at least cheered me up another thought occurred. Ipswich had done the double on us and done it comfortably. Perhaps Mick McCarthy had our number. After all, if I was an Ipswich blogger I would have described the game as a good day at the office.