An accusation one could not level at the NPower Championship, is that it is predictable. Whilst last season’s top two, in Newcastle and West Brom, were streets ahead of the field, the reminder of the division was a topsy-turvy mix of teams doing the opposite of what was expected of them. Blackpool, considered relegation certainties, were promoted via the play-offs. At the other end of the scale, Roy Keane’s Ipswich Town, to give them their proper title, failed to win any of their first 14 games, coming a lowly 15th. This was after we were subjected to a summer of countless synopsis’ of the Tractor’ Boys prospects claiming Keane knows “what it takes to get teams out of this league”. He almost did, but not into the league expected. Even with all the potential pitfalls, Middlesbrough seem to stand above the rest in my eyes in the race to the Promised Land.
My attention on Saturday evening was drawn to the Coca-Cola Championship, or Division 2 as it was called up until BSkyB came along, and the clash between recently relegated West Bromwich Albion and Ipswich Town. Roberto Di Matteo and Roy Keane faced each other as players on numerous occasions during their careers, with one particular incident in the Charity Shield in 2000 leading to one of the 11 red cards Keane received during his Manchester United career. I was very interested to see how West Brom were adapting to the drop down a division, and observe Keane’s work in progress at Ipswich. What I saw surprised me greatly.