The View From Churchmans

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


Ipswich Town 1 Coventry 1

Funnily enough, I actually enjoyed this match more than the Reading game,
despite our performance being even weaker (and the opposition being equally
mediocre). Coventry played a much more open game, and allowed us to do the
same, and got the same result too. But let’s face it, things are a bit of a
mess at the moment. The manager’s not getting things right, some players are
well off-form, and others simply look very uncomfortable.

But then it wouldn’t be a typical Ipswich first-third-of-the-season if we
were any good, would it?

First things first. The 4-3-3 which Royle’s trying out simply isn’t working.
It has a tactical flaw (he’s playing a Sven-style diamond in the midfield
with, er, one wing missing). And it has a personnel flaw (the midfield don’t
know what they’re doing, and not do the front three). So let’s get rid of
that, for a start. The fact that he’s abandoning it halfway through every
game indicates he knows as well as anyone that it’s not right.

Secondly, I know it’s only the third game of the season, but there’s a limit
on how long we can afford to persist with players who’ve lost their touch,
lost their confidence or lost their enthusiasm. And there are several of
them. We might have a rapidly-shrinking squad, but there are still options.
The first eleven doesn’t pick itself, yet.

Finally, if we’re going to play a far less attractive style of football than
we were spoiled with in the Burley years, we want results. Otherwise, let’s
have our fancy, but ultimately wasteful, football back.

Coventry were OK, and don’t deserve the winless streak they’re going
through. They played an offside trap, rare amongst visiting sides, and we
were too lethargic to beat it. McAllister was magnificent, and overcame his
lack of speed far more intelligently than Jim Magilton.

When we abandoned the lopsided 4-3-3 and went to 4-4-2 for the second half,
things picked up considerably, but the gradual improvement was equally down
to the kick up the backside we got from three committed, enthusiastic and
classy substitutes. Could they do that from the start? They ought to be
given the chance, I think. But perhaps Royle wants certain players in the
shop window while the transfer window is still open. We’ll see whether they
get shunted off to the reserves come September 1st, Premiership salaries or

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

DAVIS 6 (3/3): Anyone else think Kelvin’s a spooky dead-ringer for Andy
Marshall? Me’n’the missus do. Anyway, as soon as he has to kick the ball,
the similarities end: his distribution is actually quite useful (although
wasted on the two strikers who don’t seem to have any idea of what to do
with a long clearance from the keeper). He pulled off a couple of cracking
saves, even if the one in the second half only needed to be so good because
he’d misjudged it in the first place. Went walkabout on one occasion, but
otherwise had reasonable communication with the defence, good to see at this
early stage, and certainly had their confidence.

WILNIS 4 (2/2), NAYLOR 7 (4/3), DIALLO 6 (3/3), MAKIN 6 (3/3): The defence
had a lot of work to do with a completely porous midfield in front of them,
and whilst there were a lot of scares, they generally coped reasonably.
Bam-Bam is a new man. No manic rushing around, no mad rushes of blood to the
head, he just quietly (and competently) gets on with the job. Whilst his
(beautifully-read) goal-line clearance will get the headlines, his reading
of the game was the most encouraging sign. Fab has to be marked down for
losing his cool too easily when deliberately wound up, which was

MAGILTON 4 (2/2), SANTOS 5 (3/2), MILLER 3 (2/1): All over the place. Poor
distribution from all three, poor positional play and poor communication.
I’m not suggesting with Jim’s 2/5 for effort that he’s not trying, more that
(as everyone feared) he’s simply not up to the game he wants to play. In the
10-15 minutes before half-time, he looked, quite simply, knackered. Having
the presence of Santos in the middle, pushing him out to the side, does not
help with his captaincy, I feel. But Santos is failing to impose himself on
the game in the way I suspect Royle has had planned for him. As for Tommy
Miller, it was simply one of the worst performances I’ve seen from him,
completely ineffective throughout. Let’s hope it was a one-off.

Marcus BENT 4 (2/2), COUNAGO 3 (2/1), Darren BENT 5 (3/2): Marcus – as usual
– started off reasonably brightly but gradually became less and less
interested, until the point where it was obviously time for him to be taken
off. And indeed, on came the sub: for the wrong Bent. I don’t know if it’s a
confidence thing with Marcus, but he simply won’t shoot (the goal came about
because he simply had no alternative other than to swing a boot at it). This
would be OK if he was setting up the others, but he simply didn’t seem to be
able to read their runs at all. Pablo has picked up this season where he
left off, his goal sense has gone, and the one trick in his limited arsenal
(turning players on the edge of the area) is all too predictable and easy to
defend against. Nobody was dismayed to see him substituted at half-time. I
haven’t given him a 7/10 at Portman Road since New Year’s Day, and his time
was up long ago. Darren was disappointing in the first half, but slowly
began to work out how to worry their defence in the second half, at which
point he was irritatingly substituted. D’oh!

Subs: WESTLAKE 6 (4/2) came on at half-time to play wide on the left and
make a flat 4-4-2. His workrate perked up the whole crowd, and his
willingness to cover the ground inside and outside Makin opened up a lot of
opportunities, although nothing turned out to be decisive. WRIGHT looked
very good, but in comparison with the rabble around him in midfield, that
wasn’t too difficult and we shouldn’t get too carried away. Even so, he
really ought to be in the starting lineup at the moment. This thing about
BOWDITCH not being old enough to play ninety minutes may be the sensible
approach, but the guy deserves more than the ten minutes a game he seems to
be getting. OK, he’s no Michael Owen at 17, but his enthusiasm alone is
surely going to achieve more results (i.e goals) than we’re seeing from any
of the guys with the bigger pay packets. Give him a chance Joe!

The REFEREE had a poor afternoon, booking three of our players when at most
one was deserved. Generally, I thought he was unlucky, continually winding
the crowd up simply by following correct procedures, which might be stupid
but which aren’t his fault. The incident where Fab was pushed in the face is
baffling: the linesman was inches away and didn’t flag, so you can’t blame
the ref for not blowing up. So what happened?

The CROWD was down on the opening day, but it was bank holiday weekend so
let’s not read too much into that. The noise was pretty ordinary.

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