The View From Churchmans

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


Ipswich Town 1 West Ham 2

I’m hoping we’ll look back on the first half-dozen games of the season as
the painful but necessary process of rebuilding, which unfortunately wasn’t
accompanied by fortunate results. Because let’s face it, we’re having to
cope with the introduction of a brand new defence as well as making up for
the loss of our captain and most influential player, and it was never going
to be easy.

However, even if there were some hints of things getting a bit better in
places during this game, Joe has to address the fact that some things
haven’t worked and some players are clearly having problems. But, gradually,
he’s doing this. Some things have been given their chance and worked
(Naylor), others have been given their chance and abandoned (the 4-3-3) and
yet more have been given their chance and will surely get the chop soon
(Santos in midfield). Other problems simply can’t be addressed: what can you
do about the total loss of form of the entire trio of first-choice strikers?
Well, bringing back someone who’d been deemed surplus to requirements, I
suppose. It might seem desperate, but at least it was a positive move.

West Ham aren’t going to have it easy this season: there’s some class there
which is head and shoulders above most of the division (Carrick, Defoe, etc)
but there seems to be a real attitude problem. Some of the players really
swagger round like they hold the First Division in contempt, and if this
game is anything to go by, that means they’re not going to have the
commitment and concentration required to grind out the results they need.
They nearly let us back into the game, and with their domination of the
midfield that would have been unforgivable.

Overall, the 4-4-2 looks a lot sounder than the 4-4-3, but until we sort out
the midfield we’ll have no chance of a decent season. On the bright side,
the defence is pretty solid (we gave West Ham very, very few openings) and
the fringe players (Westlake, Richards and Jermaininho) all give hope that
there are potential alternatives to what we’ve seen. However, lack of any
form from up to half a dozen players is something which no tactics can
compensate for, and I think many fans’ worst fears about Jim’s captaincy are
beginning to be realised.

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

DAVIS 6 (3/3): Will have been disappointed with both goals conceded, I
expect, but both were excusable. Distribution is still a revelation compared
to what we’ve had to put up with, and most importantly, he seems to have the
complete confidence of his defence, almost too much so at times.

WILNIS 6 (3/3), NAYLOR 6 (3/3), DIALLO 6 (3/3), MAKIN 6 (3/3): Chris and, in
front of him, Ian Westlake, showed how a good wide pairing should work in
the first half. It might not have been particularly positive, but it was a
really solid combination. Compare and contrast with Fab and Tommy on the
other side (in theory), who were never there for each other and constantly
leaving huge gaps to be exploited. Fab does seem up for it, although as
ever, he can’t deliver killer balls and can be found out in the tackle too.

MILLER 4 (2/2), SANTOS 3 (2/1), MAGILTON 5 (3/2), WESTLAKE 6 (3/3): Tommy
was nearly as bad as against Coventry, Georges can’t be given the benefit of
the doubt any longer (he cannot play this role, or perhaps any midfield
role, full stop), and Jim really seems to be struggling to keep up. Ian
Westlake looked really promising, although compared to what was going on
alongside him, he ought to have done. Tommy Miller’s dreadful recent
performances are perhaps the least worrying of the three below-par
midfielders, as we know he can be so much better and surely he can get it
back. But I worry that the same can’t be said of Jim, who’s been dropped
(sorry, rested) in the past after performances no worse than this in terms
of his influence on the game. The Santos experiment will surely now be
stopped: the guy seemed as out of his depth in today’s position alongside
Magilton in a busy midfield as he has done sitting in front of the defence.
He seems to have the reactions, physique and touch of a central defender,
and really looks like he’d rather be playing there.

ARMSTRONG 6 (3/3), COUNAGO 4 (2/2): I don’t think many of us expected to see
Alun in the blue shirt again, and it looks like desperation when a
transfer-listed, fifth choice striker starts a game with no obvious injuries
elsewhere, but he came out and put in exactly the performance he’s done so
many times in the past. It certainly didn’t set the world on fire, but he
had real presence, and with an on-form strike partner to feed off all the
balls he won, he could have made a big difference. But Pablo’s performance
was the same old rubbish we’ve had to endure for far too long now, with what
few chances he got squandered in a most cringeworthy fashion, including a
free header directed straight at James in the first half and yet another
wasted one-on-one in the second.

Subs: WRIGHT 7 (4/3) came on at half-time for Santos, but went wide on the
right so that Miller could move into the middle, which in a way is a shame,
because with Jermaininho looking pretty sharp, he might have been even more
influential in the centre where I always think he seems more suited
(although I know others disagree!). However, he’ll probably take any
opportunity at the moment, and he really worked hard to make an impression.
DARREN BENT came on in a wide left position, which baffled many of us, and
it certainly didn’t seem to do him any favours, as he wasn’t very effective.
But he got a couple of efforts in, which is something at the moment.
RICHARDS came on as a like-for-like swap after Makin was injured, and worked
hard, impressing most of us I suspect.

The REFEREE was pretty decent, although the game didn’t really warrant four
bookings. I can’t see any of our defenders avoiding suspensions quite early
in the season now, which is daft because none of them have been dirty.

The CROWD was a sellout, although the noise was pretty ordinary, even from
the West Ham fans, who were there in numbers but were an uninspiring lot.

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