Blues going same way as Norwich

JUST as coal miners used little yellow birds to warn against potential disaster, Ipswich Town fans are now peering at the record of the Canaries to see if the fate they suffered last season will be mirrored by the Blues.

Canaries have done it

- but now will Town?

By Francis Whittaker

JUST as coal miners used little yellow birds to warn against potential disaster, Ipswich Town fans are now peering at the record of the Canaries to see if the fate they suffered last season will be mirrored by the Blues.

Ipswich are still without a win after 11 games this season and are rooted to the bottom of the Championship table, and some supporters are starting to think the team could be following near neighbours Norwich City into League One come May.

A cursory look at Norwich's record last season shows that, although they were struggling, the doomed Norfolk club were faring better than Town are currently - winning two, drawing four and losing five of their opening 11 games in 2008/09.

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However, doubts had already started to emerge in the heads of some Canaries fans about their ability to stay in the Championship at that early stage.

Michael Bailey, football reporter for Norwich Evening News and lifelong fan of the team, said: “It was pretty split down the middle. There were a lot of people who were confident that we could turn it around but were just underperforming, but there was a small group who thought that we were in trouble and the worst was coming.

“We had a couple of false dawns including a 5-2 win over Wolves around this time last year, and from then on people just kept harking back to that as how we can and should be playing, but it just never came.”

Bailey said that the relegation worries really grew amongst fans during the festive season: “The fear probably came just approaching Christmas, we were really starting to struggle and there was a lack of motivation on the pitch - that was when people were worrying. Glenn Roeder was sacked in January, then in mid-January it really started to feel like things could go wrong. We had been struggling for a while and we started to think that this could be it.”

Although comparing the records of the two local rivals is unlikely to give much heart to Town fans, Bailey still believes the Blues can escape their current predicament: “They should be good enough to get out of where they are. They've got plenty of half decent players so they should be three worse teams in the league by the end of the season.

“Plus, they're bankrolled, so there's really no excuse!” he said.

While Ipswich have so far performed considerably worse that the three sides that eventually went down last season - all of whom like Town have tasted the dizzy heights of the Premier League recently - they can still take encouragement from teams who have turned a poor starts into a highly respectable end of season finishes.

Having taken over Sunderland after an abysmal start to the season in 2005/2006, Roy Keane himself notoriously fashioned his Mackems side into an outfit that stormed to the Championship title.

In December 2003, Iain Dowie took over Crystal Palace with the Eagles languishing in 21st place. However a run of 17 wins from 23 games saw the London club eventually scrape into the play-offs, beating West Ham in the final to secure a place in the Premier League.

And Sheffield Wednesday, bottom of the league in early October, eventually turned their season around to finish a highly respectable 9th in 2006/07.

However, all three of those teams had considerably more points on the board than Town do at this stage, meaning the Blues must start winning soon to stand any hope of emulating them.

STATS PANEL

ELEVEN DOWN Ipswich Town's record after 11 games this season

Won: 0

Drawn: 5

Lost: 6

Points: 5

Current league position: 24th

SINKING FEELING?

The records of recent Premier League clubs in the seasons they dropped to the third tier after 11 games.

NORWICH CITY 2008/09

Won: 2

Drawn: 4

Lost: 5

Points: 10

Eventual league finish: 22nd

SOUTHAMPTON 2008/09

Won: 3

Drawn: 2

Lost: 4

Points: 11

Eventual league finish: 23rd

CHARLTON ATHLETIC 2008/09

Won: 4

Drawn: 1

Lost: 6

Points: 13

Eventual league finish: 24th

LEEDS UNITED 2006/07

Won: 3

Drawn: 1

Lost: 7

Points: 10

Eventual league finish: 24th

LEICESTER CITY 2007/08

Won: 2

Drawn: 6

Lost: 3

Points: 12

Eventual league finish: 22nd

NOTTINGHAM FOREST 2004/05

Won: 1

Drawn: 6

Lost: 4

Points: 9

Eventual league finish: 23rd

THE GREAT ESCAPE

The records of those teams who have successfully turned around a poor start.

SUNDERLAND 2006/2007

Won: 4

Drawn: 1

Lost: 6

Points: 13

Eventual league finish: 1st

CRYSTAL PALACE 2003/04

Won: 4

Drawn: 2

Lost: 5

Points: 14

Eventual league finish: 5th

SHEFFIELD WEDNESDAY 2006/07

Won: 2

Drawn: 4

Lost: 5

Points: 10

Eventual league finish: 9th

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