I won’t set my sights too high

The Man In The Stands THE GOOD news is that we did not kick-off the new season today at home to MK Dons, last year's champions of League Two. Instead that particular indignity befell Leicester City; as thankfully our own showdown with MK this season is restricted to a cup game.

The Man In The Stands

THE GOOD news is that we did not kick-off the new season today at home to MK Dons, last year's champions of League Two.

Instead that particular indignity befell Leicester City; as thankfully our own showdown with MK this season is restricted to a cup game.

It's easy to forget just how close this club was to the oblivion of League One, and the fact we kick off this season in the Championship is a major testament to the achievements of Glenn Roeder, his staff, and the players who dug us out of that almighty hole.

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That is the major reason to be cheerful; others are less easy to find.

For while Neil Doncaster may talk of “the arrival of so many quality players”, and the more reality-detached of our supporters may be predicting a top six finish, The Man really can't see it.

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The overhaul of the squad, achieved in the most part by loan signings, means we simply can't expect this team to fall into place quickly. It will take time. The Man suspects we are in for a lower-mid table finish, which would not be a bad achievement for Roeder. Anything beyond that would be remarkable.

To put things into context, Bristol City have spent £2.25m on just one striker.

Forest, fresh out of League One, have done the same. Even Barnsley have spent more than £1m on a frontman.

I understand we might be holding back some cash for a big striker, but to date our biggest signing of the summer is the £400,000 we paid for David Bell, from Conference-bound Luton Town.

It would be totally unfair, almost ridiculous, to expect Roeder to gatecrash the top six with the budget he's had to work with, as well as the skeleton squad he inherited.

Given all the changes - if nothing else - this season will be an adventure.

Whether you are a Deliaist or a Cullumite (because let's be honest folks, the board has turned it into a childish popularity contest) get behind the team.



THE MAN does not want to write too much about The Land That Time Forgot in one column, but Craig Bellamy's antics at Portman Road can't pass by without mention.

I know it was in bad taste, I know it was wrong, but I love Bellars for it.

The Man knows Bellamy's reputation stinks throughout the rest of the country, but I have always liked him.

A cracking player who wears his heart on his sleeve. The Bellamy spat sums up one of the rare occasions when The Man is on the player's side, rather than the fans.

I think it is totally absurd that supporters think they can get away with hurling abuse at opposition players for 90 minutes, and then kick up a fuss if one of them reacts.

If you hand it out, you have got to be prepared to take it.

I was not at the West Ham game, but I'm prepared to bet that the fan in question did not say “go away Craig”, as he was quoted.

I'd imagine it was a lot more colourful than that.

And if so, Bellars should be entitled to have a go back.

I've been told by a reliable source that his exact retort was: “At least my missus is not a prostitute living in the murder capital of England.”

Very imaginative for a footballer, you have to say.

t Officials in Ipswich have confirmed East Anglia's worst-kept secret - that their town is an absolute dump.

A document produced by Ipswich Borough Council, and signed by the leader of the authority, admits in graphic detail the desperate lows to which the town has sunk.

The confessions were made in papers produced to try and win unitary status for the council, a status which gives the authority extra powers over how to spend 'public' money in ****land.

Whereas Norwich City Council's bid for the same status spoke of “greater efficiency” and “more local focus”; the council in Ipswich decided to reveal the true horror of the town in its (ultimately successful) attempts to shock central Government into giving the plans the go-ahead.

It said: “Ipswich is different from the rest of Suffolk.

“The town faces significant urban challenges with drugs, crime, health, deprivation and a significant and growing migratory population.

“Many of those in our communities are not able to achieve their full educational potential and have compromised health outcomes…

“Ipswich has been the focus of international media attention recently over the murders of five women in the town and an additional killing near a night club.

“Overall crime rates in Ipswich are significantly higher than those in the other six districts of Suffolk.

“The Home Office compares the crime situation in Ipswich with areas such as Salford, Sunderland, Gateshead, Stoke and Derby.”

The Ipswich powers-that-be weren't finished there folks…

It added: “The Strategic Assessment, November 2006, identifies the specific problem of Class A drugs in Ipswich.

It highlights the significance of heroin and crack cocaine within the profile of drugs, and indicates the recent emergence of methamphetamine in the market.”

To this day The Man has never met an Ipswich fan who still lives there, and this candid admission perhaps goes some way to explaining that.

Under the heading Ipswich is Different, read the council's confessions here: http://www.ipswich.gov.uk/NR/rdonlyres/528AD598-F72A-484D-8A65-8C3507801438/0/UnitaryIpswichExecutiveSummary.pdf


THE OLYMPICS had not even started, and The Man was already tired of hearing about human rights.

I'm not saying the Chinese don't get up to some despicable activities (like most other nation states past and present), but some of the protesters really get my goat.

These publicity-hungry people are never found protesting in North Walsham town centre about a lack of social care provision for the elderly, they always turn up in fashionable campaigns such as Free Tibet.

The Chinese have just lost 70,000 people in an earthquake, are thoroughly excited about holding the Olympics, yet some British plonker climbs up a lamppost to buy himself 15 minutes' of fame for a cause he's read about on the internet. An embarrassment.

I mean really, how we would like it if a couple of Chinese nationals climbed Big Ben ahead of the 2012 Olympics and demanded independence for Scotland?

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