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Kings of Anglia Issue 10 Magazine Offer

Joe: I don't care about play-off final

PUBLISHED: 13:12 29 May 2004 | UPDATED: 04:55 02 March 2010

TODAY'S all-London First Division play-off final is a total turn-off as far as Ipswich boss Joe Royle is concerned.

It may represent compulsive viewing for a nationwide armchair audience, but Royle is unlikely to tune in as West Ham and Crystal Palace battle it out for the right to play in the Premiership next season.

TODAY'S all-London First Division play-off final is a total turn-off as far as Ipswich boss Joe Royle is concerned.

It may represent compulsive viewing for a nationwide armchair audience, but Royle is unlikely to tune in as West Ham and Crystal Palace battle it out for the right to play in the Premiership next season.

Royle admitted: “It's not sour grapes but I really couldn't care less who wins - in fact I probably won't even watch the game on television.”

The Town boss is currently at his holiday home in Majorca with wife Janet, enjoying a break before resuming his duties at Portman Road.

But for last week's play-off defeat at West Ham last week, he would have been leading out his team at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff.

Royle does not share the nation's amazement that a Palace side rejuvenated by a change of manager are so close to the promised land.

He said: “I'm probably one of the few people not particularly surprised by Palace's climb up the table.

“Their first win under Iain Dowie was at our place, when I seem to remember they were fourth or fifth bottom, and I recall saying it wouldn't surprise me if they ended up in the play-offs.”

Royle weighed up the two sides and added: “Palace have a terrific goalscorer in Andrew Johnson. He's a strong runner who puts his chances away.

“When you have someone like him having a season like he's having you're always going to be in with a chance. They also have bags of experience at this level.

“Tony Popovic has been outstanding at the back and in midfield there's the guile of Michael Hughes, plus the strength of Aki Riihilahti, who is steady, strong and wins more than his fair share of headers. It's a decent package.

“West Ham have a residue of Premier League players. I've always been a big fan of Michael Carrick - he would walk into any First Division team - and there's also the firepower of David Connolly, Bobby Zamora, Harewood and also Brian Deane, who is capable of coming on to do his bit.

“There are going to be two very different styles out there. West Ham's is slightly more considered, whereas Palace are more up and at 'em, more athletic.

“I slightly doubted the Hammers' authority at times when Ipswich played them and there's no doubt in my mind that Palace will give them problems.

“Iain will probably send his players out to swarm all over West Ham, a bit like he did for the second game against Sunderland.

“They'll be contesting every ball in the Hammers' half, trying to use their pace in wide positions and generally making sure it is a hard-fought game. Rush West Ham out of their usual style, if you like.

“On the other hand, Alan Pardew would prefer his players to slow the game down and let the likes of Carrick get on the ball.

“His centre-halves, Christian Dailly and Andy Melville, both have Premiership experience and have done well for him, but if there is a weakness it could be in the full-back areas.

“It's not really Hayden Mullins' best position, while Tomas Repka can be erratic. Considering he's defended in Serie A, he's still prone to the odd gaffe.”

Royle's Ipswich fared exactly the same against both teams in the regular season, losing at home and winning away.

But he believes the Hammers' side who ended Town's own Premiership dream deserve to be slight favourites.

“I think West Ham just have the edge,” he said, “but I wouldn't be surprised if Palace have their day. It's cup football and both teams would acknowledge they have had their bit of fortune along the way.

“It's their extra experience that edges me towards West Ham, but to counter that Palace have great enthusiasm and running power - and I imagine they're a side on such a roll that they probably think they can't be beaten.”

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