Royle thanks boo boys
IPSWICH boss Joe Royle today revealed a key factor behind his team's recent form surge.Royle said: “When we lost at home to Millwall last month it was our third defeat in a row and there was a huge wave of negativity out there.
IPSWICH boss Joe Royle today revealed a key factor behind his team's recent form surge.
Royle said: “When we lost at home to Millwall last month it was our third defeat in a row and there was a huge wave of negativity out there.
“We were dismissed in some quarters - by sections of the media, by fans who booed us off and by people who wrote letters to the papers.
“There is nothing worse than being written off, but we decided to use it to our advantage. We just told the players there is no greater feeling than to prove people wrong, which is exactly what they have done.”
Town's subsequent form - five wins in six league games - has made them favourites to capture a coveted play-off place.
But nothing will convince Royle that the end-of-season knockout phase is beneficial from a football point of view, even if he can fully understand the commercial reasons for their introduction.
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He said: “I simply don't see how a cup competition at the end of a 46-game league season is right. To be honest, it doesn't make any sense to me.
“But I didn't make the rules and if we're in the play-offs, fine, I'll definitely take it.
“It's just that the team promoted via the play-offs starts with a distinct disadvantage next time. Their season lasts three weeks longer and they can't even begin to get a pre-season schedule together.
“They need to know what division they are going to be playing in. If it's the Premiership, they don't want to arrange pre-season friendlies against Premiership teams.”
Royle has savoured success via the play-offs, when his Manchester City pipped Gillingham in a dramatic Second Division final five years ago.
But he was keen to point out: “I've seen both sides of the system. I was one of the first managers to suffer, in fact.”
Royle was referring to the 1986-87 season when his Oldham side finished third in the old Second Division, seven points clear of fourth-placed Leeds.
But when the two teams met in the play-offs it was the Yorkshire outfit who edged into the final on away goals, after winning 1-0 at Elland Road and going down 2-1 at Boundary Park.
“It didn't seem fair at the time,” said Royle, who is setting his fifth-placed team only one target during the remainder of the current campaign.
“We must go out and try to win every one of our final four games,” he added. “Two wins and a draw could do it, while three wins would give us a super chance. But four wins will definitely do it.”
Meanwhile, Richard Naylor confirmed his return to fitness with a starring role in last night's 1-0 win over Fulham that brought down the curtain on another season of reserve football at Portman Road.
Naylor, back after a broken toe, earned victory for Town, who will now finish their campaign with away trips to Portsmouth, Leicester and Southampton.
His 80th minute clincher apart, the club's longest-serving player confirmed he is ready to play his part during the First Division run-in and beyond if, as expected, Ipswich qualify for the play-offs.
Naylor was impressive in defence with two well timed tackles and, when he was pushed up front in the second half, he twice sent efforts against the woodwork before eventually turning in Alun Armstrong's low centre.
The Ipswich team was: Price, Mitchell, Barron, Santos, Diallo, Naylor, Flack (Kamara 73), Reuser, Armstrong (Elliott 87), Craig (Boardley 73), Bart-Williams. Subs not used: Collins, Clarke, Supple.