About Mick, Marcus & some things on analytics

This is a repost of a long post I wrote on the Ipswich fanzine ‘TWTD’ in the forum

A caveat before I begin; been ages since I posted on Twitter, and am far more active on Twitter – but a conversation or two over the last few weeks (and ITFC Twitter being overrun by crappy generic ‘fan’ accounts), I’m back here to get some long-read views out & maybe start a discussion which invariably will go off on a tangent.

First; Mick McCarthy – This season is the plateau where many are seeing how so much came good at once last season (albeit less so in the second half). I appreciate the functional style of play, and note that Leicester do it similarly (albeit, so much better) but this season has been a bit meh – so much, that I’ve not blogged about their #numbers all year – and probably won’t until the end of the season now.
What to do if ‘MM leaves for Villa’? Let him – He’s a good bloke, knows his skills and limitations, and for me the last few games have echoed his time with Wolves in the Championship. The draw specialists, who circled around mid-table for a while before hitting it right. If he doesn’t leave, in my eyes he has two transfer windows before parting ways at the end of next season – Barring any categorical disaster or success.

The main issue for me is this; The state of a) the squad and b) the ‘philosophy’ that is employed by Ipswich Town FC is tailored to these players by emphasising hard work, specific shooters and a firm back line. This year, Town have had issues with injury, but there hasn’t been a single XI who have backed themselves as THE best 11. And this is a shame really.
So, MM leaves and Manager X comes in – The state of this squad means ME should either hire someone similar to Mick, or slightly more modern than him in terms of style of play and type of player. This takes us to the train of thought of a ‘transition’ manager before settling on a new model of success after the transition has been completed.

And all of this takes the biggest commodity in football – Time. The disparity between the PL and Championship is growing year by year, and it’s becoming tougher and tougher to compete. But, shy of taking a huge gamble, risking relegation & pressing the reset button like our East Anglian neighbours, I don’t see any solution other than the two options; a go between, or a gamble.

I touted Nigel Pearson last night, not the most fashionable choice, but I was lucky enough to meet a couple of the Leicester analysts at the Opta forum, and the latter half of last season was Pearson drilling the team to work hard, power through and ensure survival – And it struck me to be akin to the MM model. Again, the caveat remains it would be a 2 year deal where he would move the club toward a more affable style of play, but this period for me would be key. First, to introduce and develop academy prospects and second, for the internal structure of the club.

I think Ipswich should move away from the white, British, between 45 and 55 years old with some sort of historic success in the Championship approach, and implement a proper strategy and a way of thinking to help advance the club. As some of you may be aware, I’m a fan of the anaytical approach but one which bases itself on championing coach knowledge to be combined with additional insights that data can provide. Average player positioning, on-the-ball actions & development of tactics, styles and such are all possible in conjunction with the right amount of data. And further, having the option of academy data really can help track progress of a player & further understanding. In my eyes, there’s so much that Ipswich could do better here – starting with *actually* having a presence in this at the Performance Analyst level, beyond simple video analysis & scoreboard stats. Norwich, believe it or not, have a remarkably structured platform for this, and are doing some annoyingly smart things with both data & their academy development. (And I wrote to Ipswich three summers in a row, asking to propose something/help in this instance with no reply – probably asking the wrong people)

So; my three take aways;
1 – If MM leaves, Ipswich have options but it would leave us in a lurch as the squad is neither here nor there at this point
2 – When the next manager comes in, the choice for ME is to either be radical with a new coach, a new coach + DoF, or a transitional coach while developing a new structure
3 – Modernise backroom/club activity to keep up with the modern age

Thanks for reading! Thoughts welcome.

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