It is all very well playing in a conservative way, where the onus is on sturdy defence and a strong midfield but goals win games and without them, we are sunk!
Last night, against Derby County, the Blues lacked any real conviction – although I am quite convinced that those overexertions with ten men against Villa last Saturday did not help their cause. Certainly, Gwon Edwards was well below par given his more recent performances and Ellis Harrison, who was once again the lone striker, failed to make any real impression on The Rams backline.
Ipswich Town manager Paul Hurst suggested afterwards that there was not much to choose between the sides and that keeper Bartosz Bialkowski was rarely called into action. Both statements are accurate but if we are being brutally honest, he is also being a little economical with the truth. The fact is the visitors rarely looked a threat going forward and on the odd occasion that they threatened, their shooting was either too tame or worse still, far too profligate.
I was disappointed to see Grant Ward in the starting line-up because I think he is quite simply not good enough and he lacks the most underrated aspect of the modern game and that is a football brain. How many times have I watched him receive a ball on the flanks only to miscontrol it. I know this has nothing much to do with football intelligence but it tells us a lot about his technical ability – or lack of it. I am not sure whether this is a confidence issue but like Freddie Sears, he seems to largely baffle to deceive. If he was one of the new recruits from the lower leagues I would be more forgiving but he is not, and it is easy now to see why Tottenham Hotspur sent him happily through the exit door!
Yet, if I am going to be critical of Ward, then I must also be critical of Town boss Paul Hurst. Four games into the Championship season and he is still persisting playing with Harrison up front alone. He is a hardworking forward with no little skill but he is still learning his art at a higher level and this won’t help his self-belief. He badly needs support up there and if we are going to start winning games, then obviously scoring is the name of the game. Sadly, at the moment, Town don’t look to have a serious goal threat and this has to be worrying.
Trying to decide who should join him in the forward line is another conundrum that needs solving. When Freddie Sears joined us from Colchester United he was on fire going forward down the middle but our former boss put paid to that by sending him out wide. For some unfathomable reason, Hurst has appeared more recently to be doing the same but I don’t know for the life of me why?
Then we have young Ben Morris who has impressed on the odd occasion he has played some part. He could perhaps play the perfect cameo role for the energetic Harrison. Kayden Jackson is also on a learning curve but I think Town must continue to use his pace as an impact player. Hurst is still on the lookout for another forward in the loan window but there is no news on that front yet, and time is running short.
We now find ourselves in 20th place in the Championship table and this is before tonight’s matches, which could see us fall yet further down the table, as three of the four sides below us all play today! OK, we know the season is young but the sooner Hurst thinks forward and not back the better. The balance has to be right of course and it is all about fine margins, but if we are to gain the confidence we need to progress, then we have to find ways to score more goals.
F.W. – Editor of Vital Ipswich