Players must take blame too

AN irate and distraught Ipswich Town chairman David Sheepshanks today fired an unprecedented broadside at players after Saturday's 4-1 relegation clash debacle at Bolton Wanderers.

By Dave Allard

AN irate and distraught Ipswich Town chairman David Sheepshanks today fired an unprecedented broadside at players after Saturday's 4-1 relegation clash debacle at Bolton Wanderers.

"We are seemingly going down without a fight, without a whimper," he retorted.

The head of the board at a crestfallen club that are close to being doomed to the drop from the Premiership said: "As much as I'll take my responsibility, and the manager George Burley and the coaches will take theirs, the players have to accept their responsibility for this awful performance."


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Some Blues fans left at half time with their team trailing 4-0. Sheepshanks raged: "The fans showed more passion for the cause than some of our players."

He described his feelings about the game as: "a mixture of bemusement and anger."

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Third from bottom Town now need an almost miraculous run to avoid the drop with three of their remaining games being at Arsenal and Liverpool, also at home to Manchester United. Middlesbrough are the other visitors to Portman Road.

Despite his misgivings about the situation, Sheepshanks insists that all is not lost.

He said: "I was quite candidly shocked at the way we capitulated at the Reebok Stadium in what was our most important game of the season so far. I'm very reluctant to criticise players but at this level there is no such thing as a free ride.

"Frankly, with one or two exceptions, the passion for the cause wasn't in sufficient evidence. I felt sorry for George Burley as I sat in the stand, bemused at what I was watching. It was a mixture of bemusement and anger. I felt as sorry for George as I did for the 3,000 fans who travelled to support the team."

The 49-year-old Blues supremo went on to give his thoughts on the hopes for survival.

"On the basis of Saturday's performance you have to say that our chances are slim. But, taking pride in the club as I do, I just hope that the players do the same. If they can use such an appalling display as the one on Saturday as a catalyst to turn things around then there is hope.

"With four games and 12 points left, it is not just mathematically possible to stay up, but still in our own hands. If we can show the energy and desire that we showed against Chelsea then we can still stay in the Premiership.

"I feel passionately devoted to this special football club. And I can't bear to see it in the position it is in just now. At the start of the season no one could have believed this.

"While I believe that at the end of the season the worst three in the division go down, I also feel frustrated at the moment in that I don't consider that we are in that worst three.

"While there is a lot of anger and upset at the moment, there is no talk of giving up. We have got to fight for our lives in the last four games that remain. We have got to play to our strengths. A happy outcome is still possible."

The chairman concluded his post-Bolton horror-show statement by saying: "We have a collective responsibility. The manager, coaches, players and all the staff have to do everything in their power to turn things around no matter how hopeless it feels today."

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