The View From Churchmans

Ipswich Town home match reports from just another season-ticket holder


Ipswich Town 2 Coventry 1

Well, not the best quality football, but an exciting game which was
fascinating for the tactician and showed the best and worst of this current
squad. I loved it.

So Joe’s got his formation sorted, and now he needs to sort out the players
who are going fit into it, and who want to be a part of the new regime.
We’re witnessing a major rebuilding exercise now. So far he’s only about
halfway there, with four or five outfield players having risen to the
challenge, but if he can keep the points coming while this restructuring
takes place, we’re going to be alright.

If we’d have asked each other on the list last month which five players
would have come through under Royle to form the bedrock of a new team, I
guess Hermann would have been in most people’s predictions, but I doubt if
many people would have chosen Gaardsoe, Makin (at left centre-back!), Darren
Bent and Counago as the others. But on yesterday’s performance, those five
were in a different class to the rest of the team.

Think about where those players are, and two obvious holes spring to mind:
the entire midfield, and the right-hand side. We looked horribly exposed
whenever a dithering McGreal and an absent Fab were attacked, and the
midfield were confused as to their roles and totally lacking in cohesion.
Coventry could, and should, have had two or three in the first half (eight
goal attempts to our five) and this was almost totally due to their ability
to pick the ball up in the middle of the park and tear into us unchallenged.

Still, Joe’s doing all he’s presumably been charged with doing: rebuilding a
team which has been falling apart for over a year, and doing it quickly.
We’ll surely see some departures in January, because there are players who
don’t seem to have their hearts in it, players who are working hard but not
delivering, and players who I just can’t see fitting into things tactically.
We’ve still got way too big a squad: there’s no way that – long-term –
Wright or Miller will accept being out of the team, and nor do they deserve
to be. And you have to wonder if Ambrose’s absence is down to the fact that
his big-money departure is already sorted, and the club simply can’t afford
to risk him now.

In the meantime, we should be very grateful for the points…

Some ratings:
(1-5 for effort, 1-5 for achievement)

GERRARD 7 (3/4): Three terrific saves, and a much more commanding presence
in the box than Marshall has been over the past six months. The effect this
had on the confidence of the defenders in front of him shouldn’t be
underestimated. A shrewd loan, I just wish we could keep him.

WILNIS 4 (2/2), McGREAL 4 (2/2), GAARDSOE 7 (3/4), MAKIN 7 (4/3),
HREIDARSSON 6 (4/2): Fab just couldn’t get into the game coming forward in
the first half, and simply vanished whenever Coventry came forward, leaving
our slowest defender completely exposed. In the second half he was told to
stay back and help out, but consequently our 5-3-2 went quite out of shape,
more of a four-and-two-halves-3-2. That said, McGreal didn’t help his cause
much by spending much of the first half appealing for decisions rather than
getting on with it (as Coventry’s attackers were busy doing). What can you
say about Gaardsoe? We thought Titus was a Jekyll and Hyde character, but
Thomas has transformed from a total liability into Mogga in less than a
month. Extraordinary – totally in command in the centre throughout. Makin
had a terrific game in a position I just can’t get used to, and although he
gave the ball away for their goal, it was more the result of some
uncharacteristically stupid passing around in front of the goal from Matt,
which simply shouldn’t have put Chris under such pressure. Hermann charged
around with fantastic commitment and aggression, and sure, not much is
coming from it, but he’s number one on my team sheet at the moment just for
his inspiration to the others.

MAGILTON 5 (3/2), HOLLAND 5 (3/2), CLAPHAM 4 (2/2): Worryingly poor right
across midfield. Matt has a good excuse for being a little off the pace
following his ridiculous 24-hour journey home from Greece, but Jamie was
simply awful in the attacking midfielder’s role. Jim played well for half an
hour, then fell away badly, coming back to life for some reason when Pablo
came on (and nearly scoring the goal of the season).

Darren BENT 7 (4/3), ARMSTRONG 5 (3/2): Alun’s trying his best but he looks
very fragile and far too static at the moment. The difference in movement
once Pablo came on was astonishing. Darren put his heart and soul into
things, and is back, big time. He also seems to be providing a bit of an
aerial threat too – not exactly Duncan Ferguson, but perhaps enough that Joe
can look at playing Pablo instead of feeling obliged to have a big man up

Sub: COUNAGO was electrifying, as any late sub up front should be. He woke
up the ground, the rest of the team, and made the winner. Full marks.

The REFEREE let a lot go, and I’m all for that, although it defeats me why
he then decided to award us the dubious free kick which resulted in the
winner. Similarly, the linesman down there who’d given everything against us
all afternoon, decided not to flag Pablo offside when he scored, although he
easily could have done so.

The CROWD 7 (4/3) were good again, although were quick to get ratty when we
lost our way in the second half. But when it was loud, it was loud!

We’re in a real state of change, but things are definitely progressing.

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