Today marked the return of East Anglia’s most fiercest rivalries – from the day the fixture list came out, eyebrows were raised and hands rubbed together at the prospect of playing Norwich City so early on after their relegation from the Premier League, and bringing them to Fortress Portman Road for a bout of revenge suffered during the Canaries’ romp from League 1 to the Premier League under Paul Lambert. Those were dark days under Jewell, though the past three games have begun to swing a minority toward a ‘Mick Out’ campaign – which I am *wholly* against.
Ipswich lined up with a standard 4-4-2, with Tabb continuing on the left wing and McG replacing Sammon up front. The visitors continued with their 4-2-3-1, as Bennett came in for Garrido. Bennett’s game didn’t last very long, consequently resulting in 7 minutes of added time.
Mings and Tabb were under the most pressure in the first half, with Mings caught out a few times though Berra and Smith were more often than not aware of the danger and there to stamp it out. Town were most promising when Hyam pressed and tackled high up the pitch, or when Anderson was working on the right wing, playing it off into the middle. The issue came when the route one was played up to the strikers, which killed the momentum that Ipswich may have had.
In Skuse, Ipswich have a HUGELY no frills centre-mid. Too often so far this season since the Fulham game (where I thought the midfield *seemed* well balanced, albeit against a youthful and inexperienced Fulham midfield – even then, Scott Parker ran the show) Skuse has gone missing, or got the ball and quickly passed it off. For a player of his standard, too many wayward passes are made, and not often enough has he turned to look for Hyam, Anderson or Tabb – Three players who’s job in this team is to find McG and Murphy and to create the opportunities. The pass to assist balls just weren’t there.
The goal came from sloppy play, and it was a really soft goal in the end. Grabban doesn’t actually do much – he didn’t last term, and hasn’t so far from tweets and from feedback from Norwich fans who I have talked to. He’s purely a man who gets into the box, and scores. Also takes a decent penalty. Other than that, he didn’t offer too much. But he put the chance he received away, and suddenly Norwich were ahead following the first corner kick.
There wasn’t much attacking play from Ipswich, if I’m honest. A half-chance here, some good work there – other than the Murphy header (which on another day he would have put into the far corner), there was just a few chances of note.
Fair play to Norwich though – didn’t need to get out of first gear, and were very assured and organised. They’ve retained a lot of their Premier League stars from last term, and recruited well with the likes of Grabban, Jerome, O’Neil and Lafferty. Hoolahan, a player who I’ve always admired, was the Man of the Match, but Alex Tettey was excellent for me. Under Neil Adams, Norwich have become much more organised, every player knows each other’s game and they kept their shape extremely well. Michael Turner was a rock in the defense, emphasising that Norwich had nothing to worry about the tall and physical Ipswich Town side.
For Ipswich, the bright sparks were Mings in the second half, he got forward well and linked up in a good way with Hyam. Tabb found himself shifting too far infield for a wide player in my eyes – which resulted in Ipswich being far too narrow. Henshall provided width when he came on. Skuse went missing, which leads me to think there has to be a better way of utilising him. It leads you to wonder what else Wordsworth had to do to impress Mick. Safe to say, there must be other factors in the decision.
Gerken is a player who I’ve not been convinced with from the off. Flapped at Fulham, wasn’t great against Birmingham and today should have done better with the goal. Bialkowski again might now be the solution, but this has to change. The stat that we’ve had 9 different keepers in the last 10 derbies is astonishing. I wish we’d had more faith in Loach.
On their day, McGoldrick and Murphy would have been able to put a shift in, and nick a goal each to win it for us. But they were against a very, very organised Norwich side, a team with Premier League experience, coupled with a David McGoldrick who just isn’t 100% yet. Is Conor Sammon the answer? No he’s not. Doesn’t score many goals, all I can see him doing is running around, closing down and bringing others into play. I am a big fan of big Frank Nouble, and am disappointed he’s been told he can go.
With Wordsworth and Nouble shown the door, and Sammon brought in on a season long loan – what other options to Ipswich have? Jack Collison has been training with the club, and Hyam talked him up in a recent interview. Darren Ambrose may be set for another return to Ipswich, though I like the player, fans are doubtful that he is the answer to our problems. Owen Garvan has been talked about again and again since the pre-Jonny Williams days and he is an option for getting the ball forward, a trait Ipswich sorely are lacking in the middle of the park. The same mantra is on every Town fans’ lips – we need reinforcements in the middle of midfield, and please sort out the goalkeeping errors. What a shame Ipswich were unable to secure Stephen Henderson from West Ham.
The image I’ve put together above is how I’d like to see Ipswich line up. This isn’t due to the whole “3 at the back is now cool” trend – I’ve been crying out for this since this time last season (albeit then, it was Hewitt and Cresswell on the wings. A bit better than Mings/Parr)
For this system to work, Skuse will be utilised purely as a link between defense and midfield, and a destroyer of attacks. His interceptions last term were excellent, and this is where I think he can excel. Anderson’s work rate is fantastic, and he would be able to go up and down the pitch for 65 mins I think – and Mings or Parr can work on the opposite wing.
The best part of this formation is that it is interchangeable – should something change, you can revert to a 4-4-2 with Tabb/Ambrose out wide of going to a diamond with Anderson through the middle. Hyam I think has great potential as a energetic presser, who gets the ball and looks forward – to his CM team-mate. I’ve listed Tabb here, but Ambrose, Collison and even Garvan can be his partner. Get the ball to the front two, and push up in support. With the wing-back/defensive wingers forward, Smith and Chambers can cover the wings, whilst Skuse can slot in as a temporary centreback. Hell, Skuse can cover at right back if needs be.
I don’t think this will ever happen, but it’s nice to see that there could be a future for Skuse in the heart of ITFC’s midfield.
Finally, a word on the owner. Marcus Evans has, in my eyes, lost interest in this club and the managing directors are leagues behind the other clubs in both revenue generation, club organisation and out of touch with the fans. There really needs to be a passionate go getter in charge who has the best interests of the club at heart.
As for Mick, he’s the best manager out there, and stability is the best thing for this club. Let’s not forget we’re only a few games in, that the Championship can change in just a month and a half and that we have bright youngsters like McQueen, Bishop and Wyatt coming through in the academy. A few reasons to be cheerful, I think.