Oh what a wonderful time of the year.
This beauty from Twitter user @Callis1987 sums up the sense of excitement, the buzz, the bewildered delight that is going around Ipswich fans right now.
Ipswich Town Football Club, lead by the world’s greatest Yorkshireman, Mick McCarthy and his trusted ally, Terry Connor are sitting second in the league behind Bournemouth, and ahead of Brentford. Let it soak in, like the gravy which will drown your cooked meat of choice tomorrow. I know that’s all I’ve spent this weekend doing (between things, and amongst stuff)
Not in my wildest dreams did I expect to be saying that, come Christmas. My honest belief was that we would be challenging for Top 6 once more, but never did I think we’d be flirting with automatic promotion. But lest we forget, there is an entire half of the season remaining, and it is a marathon – not a sprint.
But half a season gone, and for some wicked, bizarre insane reason, Daryl Murphy has perked up and become an unstoppable force. Scoring 14 goals in a season for the first time (bagged 13 for Ipswich last term, equalling his record from his time at Waterford), Murphy is in fine form after finally finding his position leading the line at the front of the Ipswich attack, with an exceptional foil in David McGoldrick. With Murphy’s hold up play and tireless running, McGoldrick can exploit the space with his vision, trickery and creativity. This has been developed further with the emergence of the excellent, mouthwatering talent in the middle of midfield of Teddy Bishop. Bishop has taken his opportunity by the scruff of the neck, cementing a spot alongside the ever-unfazed and patrolman, Cole Skuse.
Let’s talk about Daryl Murphy.
Here is his ‘statistical history’ from his time at Sunderland till now. There’s a loan spell at Sheffield Wednesday in the first season, but he played four games and did naff all. I’ve left it out. The most interesting thing is that he’s come back to us, but it’s the last two seasons where our man has begun to blossom. An Independent article today has Murphy speaking of the essential role that Terry Connor has played, and how he is high on confidence. Why wouldn’t he be? Top scorer in the Championship at Christmas, tucked inside now after spending the ‘peak’ period of a forward’s life being shoved out to the right/left flank. But he is settled, he is enjoying his time at Portman Road and we are witnessing a delightful late blossom. B-e-a-utiful.
Assists-wise, we have Paul Anderson (many of you know I have a soft spot for him – an incredible player who works so hard for the team, sometimes to the point where he looks on the verge of passing out) and Teddy Bishop.
Bishop really has been a revelation. His pass completion rate is an impressive 79.3% (third, behind Bru, 81.3%, Williams [smaller sample] 79.4% and ahead of Skuse, 77.6%) and he has 5 assists – the same as Anderson… (but Ando takes corners and free kicks, so provides the ‘assist’ for Berra/Smith). Given his assists per time spent on pitch, Bishop’s scoring contribution (Assists per 90 + Goals per 90) is actually the highest at the club – he is hauled off after about 60-70 minutes in every game he starts; which I guess highlights Mick’s management of the yoof.
A bit about Cole Skuse; and here is where I wish I could highlight the level of running that Skuse, Tabb, Murphy and Anderson get through in a 90 minute game. It’s simply incredible, and they are only now being valued en masse – Ando and Tabby Alonso were singled out by many as the men of the match, though a lot was emphasised on the ‘masterclass’ showen by Bishop.
46.025 passes per 90. Most Interceptions per 90 (destroyer) – 2.956. His role is incredibly simple, and was one which was deemed useless when Ipswich lacked the attacking intent in midfield (where Skuse himself attempted to start attacks). Now, he simple cuts out passes, puts pressure on opponents and is always available to receive and play to the likes of Tabb, to Bishop, to Bru. This role is massively underrated, his positioning is grand and does all the sweeping.
Kevin Bru has really come on as well. He’s a talented lad, and his 81% passing is top banana. He also puts in 3.5 tackles per 90 played, and similar to Bishop, turns and looked forward whenever he receives the ball. His job, is to make stuff happen – and he does.
The squad is really developing, and there is so much to be optimistic about. I’ve even been surprised and content by the Ambrose cameos.
I look forward to the Brentford game, and another top of the table clash which the boys will undoubtedly step up for. So it remains for me to say Merry Christmas to you all, and as always any comments and questions are welcome to my Twitter @Scribblr_42 and here’s to a 2015 where we will celebrate HUGELY late Ipswich return to the Premier League!