Ed Sheeran. FA Cup Woes. Passing Football – Ipswich Fans’ View pre-Brentford Match from TWTD
The Bees are off to Portman Road in an attempt to build on successive victories against Sheffield Wednesday and Rotherham and climb themselves up the table. Billy Grant put a call into Ipswich fan Harry From Bath (@HarryFromBath) from the excellent TWTD blog to get the lowdown on The Tractor Boys’ season so far.
“And when we go to Sincil Bank .. we’ll sing this song to You” (© 1986 Brentford New Road Terrace)… it all want a bit awry for Ipswich up in Lincoln did it not?
Few Town supporters were surprised with how the tie panned out. The warning signs were there before the game. Lincoln were in flying form with a tight, well-balanced squad playing to a plan. Whereas we had an injury-hit squad and had never got past the third round of the FA Cup under Mick McCarthy. The real embarrassment for most of us was putting the watching nation through the replay. It was horrible.
Since losing to Lincoln in mid January, you have only one one match – away at Villa. Now with all due respect, everyone beats Villa. You were very confident in our pre-season Championship bloggers article (click here) of Ipswich getting to Wembley in the playoffs at the beginning of the season. What has gone wrong?
True, we have only beaten Villa but we also are unbeaten after a run of games against Reading, Brighton, Leeds and Norwich. It depends on how you look at it. After our 3-0 drubbing at home to Derby (and it could have been more), most Town fans feared that the campaign would unravel with a nasty run of February games. However, and rather like Brentford, we have changed our playing style with our January acquisitions and none of our performances in this tough run have been smash-and-grab raids. We have been good value for the points we have taken.
Looking back more widely at the season, the loss of Daryl Murphy right on top of the August transfer deadline killed our campaign. It unbalanced the squad and we failed to replace him adequately. Much of our playing style relied on Murphy’s power and strength and we all knew the game was up when we went five games in September/October without scoring. The fact that he cost Newcastle small change highlighted how rigged this division feels at time, but we should not have sold him without lining up a proper replacement.
Last season, there were some rumblings from some Ipswich fans that Mick McCarthy had taken you as far as he could. Have those rumblings increased?
One group of supporters have wanted Mick gone as much due to the puritanical style of football we have had to endure at times as anything else. Many of the wider fan base were turning against him after the Lincoln and Derby defeats. This has calmed down now as much because we can see a new team evolving – one which is playing more attractive football and one which could provide a foundation for next season. Mick won’t want to stick around if he feels we are fed up with him and has said that he will consider his options this summer.
Our January window now looks to have been quite decent, but many fans were frustrated with owner Marcus Evans for failing to bring in a striker and for going on what seemed to be a trolley dash right at the end of the month. This was not the first time this has happened and fans have less patience for Evans than they have for Mick. If Mick leaves without ever having been backed in the way Paul Jewell and Roy Keane were, many of us simply won’t forgive our owner.
Players comings and goings. Have they been good or bad for Ipswich?
Far more hits than misses as things stand although it is early days. There were a couple of punts, including target-man Kieffer Moore from Forest Green Rovers. Macclesfield winger Danny Rowe along with the loan signing of Dominic Samuel from Reading (who has a toe injury). Full back or wing back Jordan Spence is a mobile and technically good player. Former Magpie Steven Taylor is a solid centre-back although there were a few wry smiles when he picked up a hamstring injury.
We will talk about Toumani further down but Welsh International Emyr Huws, who took a pay cut to join us on loan from Cardiff, has been a revelation and galvanised much of our creative play, linking well with David McGoldrick and Tom Lawrence who play together up front.
Luke Varney left for Burton but crucially we managed to stop Luke Chambers leaving for a return to his former club Forest on the January deadline day. He has become pivotal playing in a more central role in our back-three where his captaincy is more influential. Give that man a contract extension, we badly need his leadership on the pitch.
You have two ex Bees in your squad. Jonathon Douglas does not seem to feature very much. And you rescued Toumani Diagouraga from Leeds after he made a big mistake leaving us a year ago chasing a a bigger pay cheque but ending up not getting in the squad after Gary Monk took over the manager’s role. Toums would have still got regular football with us this season. How have they been for you?
Dougie has copped a fair amount of flak this season – some of it unjustified – for the lack of impact he has had in games. It has not been easy playing in an injury-hit squad but his lack of dynamism has hurt our tempo, especially playing alongside Cole Skuse who is more inclined to pass rather than carry the ball. At times everything has stagnated, with the televised Lincoln car crash an obvious example. When Dougie is stationed 10 yards further up the field, he is a transformed player and can pick a pass but that has not happened often enough.
Toumani clearly was signed by one manager and not favoured by his successor, but we like him and he adds something to midfield play. He carries the ball out and draws players to him, and this has liberated his partners Grant Ward and Emys Huws in the middle when he has played. With Josh McEachran unlikely to feature on Saturday, I would start Toumani over Skuse, who is better at nullifying a midfield threat. We are playing a more fluid passing game now – I kid you not – and Toumani has played an important part in doing this.
You seem to be a tad inexperienced in the wing back front. As you can hear us discussing on the Pride Of West London podcast above, Brentford are getting back to the attacking style of that playoff season when we played with zest and wingers and attacking midfielders marauded around the centre of the park. We’ve score 17 goals in the 6 matches since Scott Hogan left for £12m (we haven’t replaced him btw). Alas we’ve also let in 13. Jota. Jozefzoon. Canos. Henry. They’re all potty for it. Does this worry you a tad?
We are fully aware of your wingers and full-backs (especially Rico Henry) and we know where the threat will come from, especially if McEachran is out. Jordan Spence is a natural wing back and Myles Kenlock, although inexperienced has not looked out of place at Villa Park or Carrow Road recently. The more fluid passing game we are now playing is coupled with a solid defensive shape. Jonas Knudsen and Chambers are full-backs playing in the back three so we have bite as well as some mobility across the back five.
Skuse is naturally good at sniffing danger and can double up with a full-back if we are struggling out wide, and anyway we all know that you only have to shepherd Jota on to his right foot (I’m joking!). We are aware of where the danger lies and we will hope to take advantage of any problem Brentford have should they lose their defensive shape. In McGoldrick and Lawrence, we have players who can really exploit space. It should be an intriguing match-up.
A year ago, Luke Hyam broke Alan Judge’s leg. Unfortunately, he still isn’t back in full training after that challenge and Brentford lost £6m in transfer fees that summer (he had a move lined up to Yorkshire in the Jan window and possible bigger move in the summer) – something that hits a small club like us hard. And the match before that at Griffin Park, Jonathan Douglas took Jota out with a rather naughty challenge – an injury that saw him ending to have to go off to Eibar in Spain to get game time (which ironically he didn’t get). You’re got going to break any legs this time around are you?
No. I’m sorry to be so blunt but get over it. I love your football club to bits but it was not intentional and Ryan Woods was hardly innocent in that game (To be fair, I think we all know the Judge challenge was like a bungled burglary. Hyman was told to keep him quiet early – which is totally fair enough – but his execution was atrocious. And he knew it. No wonder he felt so bad. On the flip side the injury galvanised the team and we won practically every single match after that till the end of the season – Ed).
Ed Sheeran – who went to the very posh Brandeston Hall prep school in the shadow of Framlingham Castle … not too far from Ipswich- has declared himself an Ipswich Town fan. He’s got enough money. Couldn’t he throw a bit of cash in to help reduce the ticket price down to below £30? Embarrassingly for Ipswich, you are one of only two teams that we will pay over £30 for a match ticket this season (Leeds being the other at a disgraceful £36). Even Norwich and Sheffield Wednesday came in at the borderline ‘out of order’ price of £30 (although we suspect Wednesday’s price was due to the match being a cold rearranged Tuesday in February). Many Bees fans we know have said they are making a stand against teams charging over £30 and refusing to go.
The vast majority of Town fans are unhappy with our ticket prices and embarrassed that we are charging opposition fans sky-high prices. This is one symptom of an owner who many feel takes the club’s supporters for granted. Given our lack of A-list celebrity supporters, we are delighted about Ed and were thrilled when he poto-bombed a Budgie having his picture taken with his heroes Grant Holt and Darren Huckerby (above).
You played Norwich recently. You dont seem to be able to get one over them lot. Is it same again next season?
We were pleased with our afternoon’s work last Sunday, a £1.7m team drawing away at a £57m team and denting their play-off chances. We will hopefully see them on less unequal terms next season. Mick was very insightful about this rivalry last week in the build up, two of the friendliest teams you could generally have but who hate each other. Spot on. We haven’t forgotten your “Going up with the Ipswich” song at Carrow Road from the season we both made the play-offs. Thank you.
So Saturday … how do you think things will pan out?
Well, it will hardly be a nil-all draw, will it? There will be goals and probably a fair few of them given how you are currently playing. It will be an open game and a contrast with the honest industrial fare we saw in Griffin Park last August. In many ways these teams have never played each other before.
For Bees fans .. where do you recommend for a pre-match beer?
My favourite watering hole is the Greyhound (IP1 3SE) for friendly conversation, great food and the elixir of life, Adnams beer (Same as our favourite – although we did come across St Judes Tavern last season after the match and thought that was decent – Ed)
A 2-2 draw and despite all the hype about your new-found wingers, it will end with a late equaliser scored by John Bloody Egan!