Stop supply to Alan

GREAT occasion, shame about the result.Actually, the performance wasn't that clever, either, and to be blunt I was a bit disappointed with Ipswich at the San Siro the other night.

GREAT occasion, shame about the result.

Actually, the performance wasn't that clever, either, and to be blunt I was a bit disappointed with Ipswich at the San Siro the other night.

I know they were unable to field their strongest side, because of injuries, and I accept confidence must be low right now.

Inter Milan are Serie A leaders, while Town are bottom of the Premiership, and the gap was glaringly obvious for most of Thursday's game.

But aren't we forgetting something? Ipswich had a one-goal start and there was plenty of talk beforehand about not merely trying to cling to their advantage.

Sadly, though, it wasn't as adventurous a display as I had imagined. I really thought they would go out and give it a real go.

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I wanted to see them take the game to Inter, but apart from a promising initial flurry it was embarrassingly one-sided after that.

Until the last few minutes – and, let's be honest, Inter had done the job by then – there was too little fight from the Town players.

But I don't suppose I should moan too much. The Italians showed they are a very good side and only the top half dozen Premiership clubs would have made a game of it at the San Siro.

It was disappointing, however, to see Town contribute to their own downfall for the umpteenth time this season.

Unless they eliminate the defensive mistakes they are never going to be able to beat anybody at league level and I know what will happen if the likes of Alan Shearer or Craig Bellamy are presented with free gifts tomorrow.

Maybe the 4-5-1 line-up made sense on Thursday, but using Richard Naylor as a lone striker was a gamble that didn't pay off.

For a start, it's not his game, and secondly I'm far from convinced that he was 100 per cent fit. Actually, that goes for some of the midfielders, too, because Jim Magilton was ineffective after missing the previous four games with a thigh injury and Finidi George also looked a bit rusty.

It is easy to feel sorry for Town when they have been plagued by injuries, but I was definitely expecting more on Thursday.

Christian Vieri showed why he was once the world's most expensive player, although he also missed a couple of fairly straightforward chances.

But when you analyse his goals, they could have all been avoided. Poor old Titus Bramble showed his inexperience and questions must be asked as to how a player of Vieri's ability can run straight through the Town defence so easily.

It's just as well Vieri is still feeling his way back after injury, and that Matteo Sereni had a decent game in his homeland to keep the score down.

So Milan has come and gone, and I'm sure none of the supporters will forget their trip to the San Siro.

But the Town players, who also seemed a bit starstruck by the occasion, must come back down to earth with a bang tomorrow.

Unless they're up for a fight, a real battle, they will get no joy out of a Newcastle side who fully deserve to be flying high in the Premiership.

If I have a second favourite side after Ipswich I suppose it's Newcastle – for the simple reason that my old gaffer, Bobby Robson, is in charge.

And what a job he has done, keeping them up in his first season (they were bottom when he joined), consolidating last season and now putting in a real challenge to take them into Europe.

One of the reasons they are doing so well is that Bobby is getting the very best out of his players. They want to turn it on for the man, just like we did in the 70s and early 80s.

I heard Alan Shearer paying Bobby a glowing tribute at St James' Park last week after the comfortable Worthington Cup defeat of Ipswich.

What came shining through is that the Geordies really are united – all in it together and with the type of team spirit that carried Ipswich forward last season.

Your guess is as good as mine as to why Town are so different this year, but they really are a shadow of the side that took everyone by surprise by finishing fifth.

Actually, that could be the key. They were called shock troops last season, but now they have become predictable and opponents seem to have them sussed.

I don't want to be over-critical – they did us proud last year – but even George Burley said recently that he didn't know where the next win was coming from.

I sympathise with their injury plight, but we are constantly reminded that Town have a strong squad so they can't hide behind that excuse for too long.

I seem to be writing the same words every week, that Ipswich must stop gifting goals and start taking a better percentage of the few chances they do create.

It applies all over again tomorrow. Newcastle are a team in form, with no lack of self-belief and quality in every department.

Clearly, if Shearer receives the ammunition he is going to score. So Town will have to try to cut out the supply of crosses from either flank. He thrives on them – it was Ripley and Wilcox at Blackburn, now it's Solano and Robert doing the damage.

Rob Lee and Gary Speed are midfielders who can pick out the killer pass, while in Speed's case he has always been a player to get on the end of crosses.

There is also a chance that we might see Kieron Dyer coming on as a substitute, so Newcastle don't lack quality in depth.

Bobby has tightened Newcastle at the back and their keeper, Shay Given, is one of the best around. In the circumstances, I think the best Town can hope for is to take one point.

I'll go for a 1-1 scoreline.

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