Same patience may be required for Roy

ON the eve of a season that promised so much Ipswich Town manager Roy Keane joked that he might need the same patience afforded to his worthy predecessor Sir Bobby Robson.

Elvin King

ON the eve of a season that promised so much Ipswich Town manager Roy Keane joked that he might need the same patience afforded to his worthy predecessor Sir Bobby Robson.

Few believed that this would be the case with anticipation so high that the Blues were ranked fourth favourites to win promotion from the Coca-Cola Championship this term.

But a hint that Keane might not have as much belief in his own managerial skills as his demeanour suggests is slowly but surely coming true.

Just two points from the opening six league games is a disastrous start for anyone with serious ambitions to reach the Premier League.

Keane whizzed Sunderland from the bottom to the top of the Championship in his first campaign of management in 2006/07.

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Things went awry after that and the football world is now looking at Keane with increased interest to see what the great Irish folk hero is really made of.

Marcus Evans, who gained such a publicity coup for himself and his company on Keane's appointment, must also be watching the situation closely.

There has been a sea change in how Ipswich works since David Sheepshanks handed over control to a man who has the wherewithal to see the Blues compete on an even financial footing with their Championship rivals.

Portman Road is now a much colder place to inhabit, and patience may be in short supply.

Ipswich have not been ones for making hasty decisions with Keane's most recent predecessor, Jim Magilton, given an acceptable three years to get things moving.

And Robson took many, many months to find his feet.

Robson began his first full season in charge at Portman Road - 1969/70 - with just one point from seven First Division games before the Blues beat Newcastle 2-0 on September 6.

At the time he was sorting out his squad in a similar way to Keane is at the moment, and two years later - in September 1971 - he was the subject of 'Robson Out' chants during a 3-1 home League Cup to a George Best-inspired Manchester United.

By the time Robson had overcome his well publicised player unrest, including fisticuffs with Billy Baxter and Tommy Carroll and began to get the best out of his players, he had been in the Town job for three years.

He then went on to magical things after being allowed leeway by then Ipswich chairman John Cobbold to find his feet in the job.

Keane will be seeking his first win at home to Nottingham Forest tomorrow to get his reign moving in the right direction but whatever happens against Forest, Keane will be sitting in a better position than Robson did at a similar stage in his Town career.Keane's position is still strong, but if he is going to deliver what he was brought in to do this season results must soon start to flow.

Pressure will increase dramatically next term, however, if the Blues still find themselves in the Championship.

Saturday's 3-1 defeat against an ordinary looking Middlesbrough bore the same hallmarks as previous poor shows this season - rank bad defending and impotency up front.

Box-to-box there was little difference in the sides and the corner count of 13 to four in Ipswich's favour shows the amount of possession they enjoyed.

In the sunshine at the Riverside Gary O'Neil gave the home team the lead after a mistake by Gareth McAuley in the 16th minute, and this was doubled in the 66th minute when substitute Jeremie Aliadiere netted also with a glancing header.

Aliadiere made in three five minutes from the end after leaving two defenders in his wake and scoring with a low shot into the far corner.

In the final seconds Jon Walters was tripped by Seb Hines and he got to his feet to net his third goal of the season from the penalty spot.

It was just a consolation but showed that Town did keep trying right to the end.

The visitors played some neat football at times, but there is still plenty of work to be done if the Blues are to start rising up the table.

Ipswich made five changes from the side that drew 1-1 at home to Preston a fortnight earlier with new signings Grant Leadbitter, Liam Rosenior and Carlos Edwards making positive debuts and the latter two looking capable of forming a potent right-sided partnership.

Jamie Peters came back in after recovering from an ankle injury while Damien Delaney regained his left-back place.

Out went Pim Balkestein, who was not even on the bench, Tommy Smith, Lee Martin, Liam Totter and Tamas Priskin. Young hot-shot Connor Wickham was on target for the Under-18's.

The opening goal stemmed from a dreadful mistake by Gareth McAuley, who was caught dreaming as he went to clear for Marvin Emnes to gain possession and cross from the right.

Gary O'Neil, who had been on the floor after appealing unsuccessfully for a penalty after a challenge by Delaney, got quickly to his feet to glance an unmarked seven-yard header over Richard Wright and into the net.

McAuley held his head as his team mates gave him telling looks while Keane stood impassive with his arms folded in front of the visiting dug-out.

In the 32nd minute, Ipswich had a good chance when a floated cross found McAuley unmarked after Pablo Counago had won a corner. From six yards the Town defender saw his downward header cleared by David Wheater from a foot in front of the goal line.

McAuley put the ball into his own net in first-half stoppage time after the ball had just crossed the by-line seconds before Wright made a stunning save to deny Adam Johnson a 20-yard goal.

Johnson went down the left flank in the 66th minute and his cross to the near post left both Rosenior and McAuley on the floor while substitute Jeremie Aliadiere wheeled away in triumph having sent a glancing header across Wright and into the net.

McAuley had a 74th minute header from a Lee Martin cross cleared by Johnson standing beside Danny Coyne's left-hand post as the visitors stepped up a gear in the latter stages. Edwards had a 25-yard shot fumbled for a corner by the diving keeper.

But Aliadiere made it three in the 85th minute after beating two defenders. He had created enough space to score with an angled right-foot shot into the far corner.

Walters sent Coyne the wrong way as he shot home to the keeper's right with a 94th minute penalty after being blatantly tripped by Hines.

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