Burley: Give Finidi a break
IPSWICH boss George Burley today leapt to the defence of star signing Finidi George.The 30-year-old Nigerian, who made an impressive start to his Town career, has been a recent target for brickbats from a section of the Portman Road crowd.
By Mel Henderson
IPSWICH boss George Burley today leapt to the defence of star signing Finidi George.
The 30-year-old Nigerian, who made an impressive start to his Town career, has been a recent target for brickbats from a section of the Portman Road crowd.
Burley said: "I have heard what some people have been saying about Finidi and it has been unfair. I am happy with what he has contributed so far."
But some supporters, along with observers from national newspapers and Sky Sports' Andy Gray, have suggested the Olympic Gold medal winner has not been pulling his weight.
Burley hit back: "Because Finidi did so well on his home debut against Derby, when he scored twice and played magnificently, everybody seems to expect him to perform like that, and be a matchwinner, every week.
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"It doesn't work like that, but Finidi is still our joint top scorer with three goals. To be fair to him, that is not a bad return, and he has also played a part in several other goals.
"But there's no doubt he has found the pace of the game in this country a lot more demanding than he was used to in Spain and Holland, where he played before.
"He is working very hard in training - his weight dropped by six pounds in his first fortnight with us - and there's no doubt the football he has played so far has taken a lot out of him."
George, a European Cup winner with Ajax in 1995, arrived at Portman Road from Real Mallorca on the eve of the new season in a £3 million-plus deal.
Burley added: "He was just the type of player we were looking for. He is a very good professional and we were looking for more goals from midfield, which we felt he could supply.
"Finidi had a terrific home debut and he has done well in patches. On Sunday against Leeds, for example, I thought he played some great stuff.
"It always takes new players time to adjust, but in Finidi's case he made an impressive start and that immediately increased people's expectations of him.
"Other players have joined us from abroad and taken nearly all of their first season at the club to settle in properly, so in that respect Finidi has done well.
"As I've said, he has contributed three goals from midfield and that's something we need more of. And he's our joint leading scorer, don't forget.
"It is not realistic to expect him to perform at his very highest level all through every game he plays, but he has shown glimpses of it and I am confident he will continue to improve."
Meanwhile, Burley will use tonight's home reserve clash with West Ham - kick-off 7pm - to give a run-out to several players on the fringe of his senior squad.
Ex-Norwich goalkeeper Andy Marshall has recovered from a back problem and will start his first Portman Road game - with ex-Town number one in goal for the Hammers.
Fit-again pair Tommy Miller and Sixto Peralta are also included in an Ipswich squad that also features Fabian Wilnis, Jamie Clapham, Pablo Counago and Richard Naylor, who have all made first team starts this season.
IPSWICH: Marshall, Wilnis, Clapham, Artun, J Miller, Beevers, Snowdon, Richards, Abidallah, Nicholls, T Miller, Peralta, Peralta, Counago, Naylor, Bent, Logan, Graaven, Bent.
WEST HAM: Forrest, Potts, Foxe, Soma, Newton, Johnson, Britton, Byrne, Garcia, Kitson, McMahon, Ferrante, Uddin, Clark, Cascione, Riza.