The View From Churchmans

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


Ipswich Town 4 Watford 2

A dull game, but I’ll take plenty more dull games if the results are like
this one. I’m with Big “Fat” Joe here. We’ve performed better than this –
especially the first half-hour against Rotherham – and got nothing from the
game. But there were several positives. The attitude looked good for the
majority of the match. And we actually took some of our chances (in fact,
bizarrely, we took most of them).

BFJ still seems to be wildly experimenting with different tactics and
personnel. Whilst the 3-5-2 formation was the same as against Rotherham, the
similarities ended there. The forced and unforced lineup changes meant we
were denied the sight of Hermann haring up and down the wing all afternoon
(and consequently we didn’t see any of those weirdly inch-perfect 50m
diagonal balls to his head from Gaardsoe). We also got Miller and Wright in
midfield (which a lot of us have been looking forward to), as Matt dropped
back as emergency defensive cover. Cynics might suggest BFJ’s getting his
post-Matt midfield ready for the new year.

In fact, if Kevin Keegan had put out this lineup, people would roll their
eyes skywards and comment on the rashness of his tactics: 3-5-2, with one of
the defenders a midfielder, and all four outfield subs being forwards too.
If this rather chancy formation was forced on him by the injuries to the
defence, why the heck is Wayne Brown on the transfer list?

The only real letdown was that the two wide midfielders were so hugely
disappointing, it rather negated the whole strategy. I think all four goals
came pretty much straight down the middle, and that’s certainly where we
seemed to be most effective, and where Watford were most worried. Time and
time again Jamie was sitting unmarked in acres of space out wide, but
defenders didn’t seem concerned enough to trot out to mark him (and to be
fair, our midfielders didn’t really make much effort to find him). Neither
Jamie nor Fab got back much to help, they really were playing as attacking
wide midfielders (aka wingers), and if that was the case, what were they
doing on the park when Ambrose and Reuser were warming the bench?

There’s probably lots to be learned from this one, tactically and
motivationally, and I’m sure BFJ will have done so. The enthusiasm and steel
of Bam-Bam’s game seemed to permeate throughout the team. Playing three
defenders is a very risky policy. Hard-working, solid midfielders make a
difference (oh to see Wright-Miller-Holland there). And if we take our
chances, what a difference it makes.

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

MARSHALL 4 (2/2): Watching Gerrard one week and Marshall the next, the
differences become clear. Not just that Gerrard’s positivity, distribution
and communication are better (which they are), but the confidence which he
gives the defenders in front of him. Twice Gaardsoe panicked over balls
which last week he simply left to the keeper without looking. And don’t get
me started on Marshall failing to make the simplest of leave-it calls to
Fab, the result being Watford’s second goal. We have to be quite clear about
this: if we’re to stand any chance of a decent second half to the season,
either Marshall improves his game immensely, immediately, or we get a new
face in between the sticks.

HOLLAND 6 (4/2), GAARDSOE 7 (4/3), HREIDARSSON 6 (3/3): Hermann did his job
efficiently all afternoon, but I can’t remember a game where he was so
anonymous. Gaardsoe was less happy than last week with what was behind him,
and it showed, but he was solid all match, again. He’s obviously spent a
week at the Tony Mowbray Academy of Distribution though, and needs to accept
what Tony did eventually: just give it to the midfielder in front of you.
Please. Matt worked hard, and made up for in intelligence what he clearly
lacked in defensive abilities – it’s a shame we’re having to waste him so
far out of position though.

WILNIS 4 (2/2), MAGILTON 5 (2/3), WRIGHT 7 (4/3), MILLER 7 (3/4), CLAPHAM 5
(3/2): Fab was hopeless, hardly getting a cross in afternoon, rarely getting
back to help out, and eventually making an arse of himself when he did.
Thanks for giving it a go mate, don’t call us, we’ll call you. A shame,
because I was one of the people who really thought this was the position
he’d shine in. Wright and Miller really brought some strength to the
midfield though, and although Wright’s passing could have been a bit more
positive, they really kept things flowing. That is, when they could keep Jim
out of things. Playing in a more forward midfield role, almost every time he
got the ball things stopped dead and any fluidity in the movement was
stopped dead in its tracks. Although Jim was instrumental in a couple of
interesting moves, they didn’t make up for the general dampener he put on
things again. And as for Jamie, he spent the afternoon with a 20m exclusion
zone around him, defenders didn’t want to go near him, but team-mates didn’t
seem to want to find him either. On the few occasions he got the ball and
started to bring it forward …actually, I can’t remember what happened on
any of them. Sorry.

NAYLOR 6 (3/3), COUNAGO 6 (3/3): What can you say about Bam-Bam? He won’t
ever be a top-class striker, but we love him so, regardless. If Marcus Bent
had just half of his strength and commitment …well, you know the rest. As
he burst through the middle on goal, 20,000 fans collectively thinking “go
on, have a crack”, who’d have thought he’d actually do it? Ipswich strikers
don’t do that, they turn round and look for a team-mate in a less
threatening position. It was wonderful to see, and with the way Pablo’s
effort had set him up, in many ways a contender for fans’ goal of the
season. Pablo himself blew hot and cold, but how often in the past have we
needed a guy in the right place, and he’s doing it better than anyone we’ve
had for years.

Subs: Darren BENT ran around a lot and although he didn’t have much impact,
he helped us take the game to Watford in a situation where we usually sit
back disastrously. Marcus BENT did his hands-on-hips “attitude” thing a lot
(how I hadn’t missed that) as well as that thing where he pulls up in his
run because the ball he’s chasing wasn’t quite to his liking, or his control
hadn’t been just so. But he took his chance well, so as a Portman Road ghost
would have said, all credit to the lad.

The REFEREE was pretty good, in that he didn’t play much of a part in the
game and we can’t ask for more. And the CROWD 5 (2/3) were quiet, only
coming to life in patches (e.g positively when Reuser’s name was announced
in the squad, or negatively when Pablo got taken off). Watford fans sang:
“one-nil, and you still won’t sing”, and, embarrassingly, they were right.

Now we need – just like last year – a huge Marcus bent inspired run of form
through Christmas and January. Then even if the playoffs still look distant,
at least we won’t we worrying about bl***y relegation.

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