When I spoke to Mick Mills on Radio Suffolk’s Final Whistle last Saturday, he reprimanded me and insisted that we should no longer talk about the squad as a whole but the ‘team’ from now on.
Former Blues captain Mills said authoritatively, “When Frank came on the first thing he spoke about was the squad – what a terrific squad we’ve got, and I really dearly would like to stop people talking about the squad because I think we are now moving into the time of the season when we want to talk about the team! I don’t want us to talk about the squad anymore. Let’s focus on Paul, pick your best team, and as long as they deserve it stay with it, and I am sure we can go through the season now and get enough victories to get ourselves promotion.”
Now the thing about Mick Mills is that he is not afraid of a verbal knuckle fight and although not all of us agree with his thinking, his directness on all matters football is commendable. People tend to forget how many years he gave to Ipswich Town. From 1966 until 1982 he played 591 times and was club captain for most of them. He also represented England and skippered them on a number of the 42 occasions he was capped. He went on to manage Stoke City, Colchester and Birmingham City in a limited capacity and with limited success, but there is little doubt he knows the game inside and out.
On Saturday the Ipswich TEAM played arguably some of their best football all season, and it was a relief to see that our twin striking partnership of Norwood and Jackson got on the scoresheet; along with, at last, Alan Judge! To put the icing on the cake our forward in waiting Will Keane, came on late to grab our fourth in what turned out to be a resounding victory.
Mick Mills is right in suggesting that once you have a winning formula you should stick with it and there is every indication that manager Paul Lambert has finally found his winning team! But the reference to the squad as a whole, should not be entirely neglected because in the modern game; whether we like it or not, it is very much the squad that wins games.
Injuries and suspensions will still inevitably befall us again, and we have a number of players who did not play on Saturday who will play before the season ends. Who would not wish to see for example Kane Vincent-Young return; or indeed a fully fit Freddie Sears or Teddy Bishop? Jack Lankester is also determined to return so there are a number of other players on the fringes of first-team football that should not be ignored. And what about Jon Nolan? Is he suddenly surplus to requirements?
That win at Portman Road on Saturday sees the Blues up to third and with a game in hand on the two who currently sit in those automatic promotion places, and it is the squad as a whole who will determine whether we go up or not.
F.W. editor of Vital Ipswich