The View From Churchmans

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


Ipswich Town 1 Rotherham 2

Looks like the Coventry result may have been a bit of luck rather than the
sinking ship having been brought under control. That said, for the first
quarter of the match we played the best football seen at Portman Road all
season, but it was obviously built more on confidence than technique,
because as the deserved goals failed to materialise, the inspiration drained
away, and when we’d given a second away to produce a travesty of a half-time
scoreline, it was all downhill from there. In the second half there were few
ideas, far too little commitment and far too much frustration.

Given the raw material, I think Joe Royle is making a brave attempt at
trying something different. The formation is radically different from
Burley’s last year or so, big opportunities have been given to three or four
players, and there’s certainly the seeds of something good in there. But
it’s a risky lineup which is going to struggle to keep a clean sheet, and
therefore goals are a must. Darren Bent is missing a Johnsonesque number of
chances, and Pablo, for all his flashy footwork, is rarely testing the
opposing keeper.

We played an out-and-out 3-5-2, with Hermann and Fab playing as wide
midfielders and rarely getting back (or needing to). This meant the three
defenders were widely strung out, requiring a hugely commanding performance
from the one in the middle (which happened) and a lot of ground-covering
from the other two (which was probably too much to ask). Despite having the
numbers in midfield, the main tactic was for Gaardsoe to fire 40m balls over
them and out to Hermann racing forward down the wing, and although that part
was extraordinarily successful, it then ran into one of two problems: either
Hermann couldn’t do much with it (thanks to the basic problem of him being a
centre-half, not a winger), or (if he received it on his head rather than
his feet), there was no much-needed support around him. It speaks volumes
that Rotherham surely could have put a stop to this tactic, which carried on
through the whole ninety minutes, but seemed to choose not to.

Against other teams, on another day, we’d have got the breaks at the
beginning and run up a cricket score. But both the tactics and the mental
state of the team at the moment make it all a high-risk strategy, and when
it doesn’t come off, it’s a morale-sapping disaster. A nice try Joe, but
there’s a lot more work to be done.

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

GERRARD 6 (3/3): A quiet afternoon, hung out to dry for their goals by
defensive mistakes. Nice to see defenders leaving balls to the keeper
knowing he’d be there though.

McGREAL 5 (3/2), GAARDSOE 8 (4/4), VENUS 5 (3/2): I can’t think how Gaardsoe
could have played much better – this performance had everything, and I’m
only knocking marks off because all the defenders have to take a little
responsibility for two goals being scored. Commanding in the air, strong in
the tackle, and (assuming he was only doing as he was told) fired those long
balls out to Hermann all afternoon with uncanny precision. If even just two
or three other players can rise to the opportunity Royle’s given them as
well as Gaardsoe has, we’ll have one hell of a team. On the other hand, the
widely strung-out defence stretched the older guys to their limit, and at
times beyond, and I doubt they’ll have enjoyed having all that space to

WILNIS 5 (3/2), MAGILTON 5 (2/3), HOLLAND 5 (3/2), CLAPHAM 4 (2/2),
HREIDARSSON 6 (4/2): I am completely sick to death with Magilton’s attitude,
which is now just disruptive to the whole team. When he keeps it under
control, we play some beautiful football, but no player summarised better
the way the whole thing fell to pieces over the ninety minutes. For the
first part of the match he was at the heart of everything. By the end, he
was irritable, niggly and just petulant. When we were awarded a free-kick
towards the finish, a team-mate rolled it to him and he hit it forward first
time …then had the gall to complain when the ref made him take it again
because the ball hadn’t been stationary. Some supporters might see the
constant lip towards the officials, opponents and even team-mates as showing
some sort of “commitment”. Crap. The only thing which makes me nearly as
annoyed is the way Matt is being asked to fill-in everywhere as some sort of
stop-gap, rather than building the team around our best player. He looks
quite unhappy at the moment, something I thought was a temporary reaction to
Burley being sacked but which has gone on too long for it to be just that.
Jamie was crowded out and (yet again) totally ineffective, Hermann did his
best but I’m not sure the experiment’s working, and Fab didn’t get involved
enough at all. Great finish though.

Darren BENT 6 (3/3), COUNAGO 5 (3/2): Darren won more in the air than he had
a right (or need) to, and worried their defence with his speed, but failed
to get enough on target. Pablo dived all over the place as usual, so when it
came to the one clear foul on him (which most of the ground correctly called
as a penalty), the referee refused to give him the benefit of the doubt. He
controls and brings the ball away well, which really lifts the crowd as he
surges forward, but rarely makes anything happen from then on. There’s a lot
more work to be done before he’s a top-class striker.

Sub: AMBROSE was given half an hour but was unexceptional in a more central
position, then completely anonymous when moved out wide. I still think he’s
got the creativity in him we’re lacking, especially as we’re carrying
Clapham at the moment, but there are forces at work of which we mortals do
not understand. ARMSTRONG trod water for ten minutes.

The REFEREE was almost breathtakingly inept, and although he irritated the
hell out of the home supporters with a stream of incorrect decisions (aided
by some comedy linesmen), he seemed to make as many wrong decisions against
Rotherham as he did against us. Lost control on the disciplinary front too.

The CROWD 7 (4/3) were pretty good again, and were as tolerant as might be
expected towards the end, although it was an unhappy walk home.

Reply to “Ipswich Town 1 Rotherham 2”

Follow us on Twitter!

Site Search