All the wrong reasons for Jim

JUST as Jim Magilton will never forget his first game in charge of Ipswich Town so he will forever remember his 100th league game as manager but for all the wrong reasons.

Derek Davis

By Derek Davis

JUST as Jim Magilton will never forget his first game in charge of Ipswich Town so he will forever remember his 100th league game as manager but for all the wrong reasons.

Taking his seat for his managerial debut against, ironically enough, Crystal Palace at Portman Road, Magilton was hailed from the rafters and greeted with 'Super Jim' from an expectant crowd, even when they lost 2-1.


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His century was marked with 'You don't know what you're doing' by frustrated and angry Ipswich fans as Town were held at home by a gritty but otherwise fairly ordinary Palace now managed by Neil Warnock.

Depending on how you look at things will determine if you look at the pluses or focus on the minuses.

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The draw extends Town's unbeaten league run to four games, reaping six points from a possible 12 and leaving them just three points from the play-off pack.

The more positive fans will point at Jon Stead grabbing his second goal in four games since arriving from Sheffield United and the form of fit again David Norris, coupled with the team's ability to score cracking goals.

Conversely, those in the ever-growing 'Magilton Out' camp will point to just one home win in four attempts, a haul of just six points from a possible 18 and one league win in six.

They will question the manager's selection policy, tactics and his team's inability to defend set plays.

Even with a strong squad Town at Magilton's disposal four players starting out of position against Palace and the result was a ragged looking side playing without conviction.

The swathes of empty seats tell its own story and even with the excuse of having the game live on television it was a poor crowd, with the stated attendance of 19,000 probably swelled by season ticket holders being counted even if they didn't actually go.

Magilton took the fans' criticism of his decision to replace goal-scorer Stead on the chin and admitted after the event that he might have got that wrong.

He also revealed that Alan Quinn was not injured and had just been left out of the 16, but offered no explanation why.

It could be argued that putting Jon Walters on the left instead worked because it was from there that Town goal was created.

Walters linked well with David Wright, creates a bit of space on the dead ball line and crossed low. David Norris showed good awareness by stepping over the ball and with the Palace defence pulled completely out of position, Stead could compose himself before picking his spot.

The scene was set for Town to go on from there but the old self-destroy button was pressed once more at the other end.

Richard Wright made a brilliant save to tip over a Victor Moses header but went from hero to villain within seconds.

He failed to collect the ball from a corner, as he crashed into Bruce who was trying to catch up with his man and Moses took full advantage to head home for the equaliser.

Wright made another huge error when he failed to collect another ball after colliding with Richard Naylor only this time Clint Hill blazed over the bar from eight yards.

It was a lucky let off but it is not the first, or even fifth, time this season that Wright's inability to keep hold of the ball has cost goals and as brilliant a shot-stopper he is, questions must be asked as to when Shane Supple is going to be given a chance.

Magilton shows no qualms in dropping many other players but Wright, along with Gareth McAuley seem flame-proof.

Magilton will live or die as a manager with his decisions but at the moment he is dying a slow death as Town bumble from one game to another seemingly without direction, and certainly not any signs of being settled.

The constant chopping and changing does not seem to be working and while it is understandable that Magilton will want to utilise the squad he has built, it is clear the team are not responding.

Of course there are times that they play very nice, pretty football, but all too often they fail in the final third just as they did against Palace.

Julian Speroni was rarely called into action although did pull off a super save to deny Kevin Lisbie who got his head to a Timmy Miller free kick.

But it was not until the closing stages when Owen Garvan, Iván Campo and Counago came on did the Londoners really look unsettled at the back.

If anyone had attacked either of Garvan's two low balls across the six yard box then Magilton may be celebrating a victory instead of having to defend his position under growing criticism.

Winning gives you all sorts of leeway and you can get away with whatever squad rotation, tinkering or culling you like if you secure the victory and in any manner you like.

Beating Barnsley tomorrow night has an added significance for Magilton now because dropping points against a side second bottom only on goal difference will not be acceptable. With Charlton away before the international break it would put all sorts of pressure on a manager looking to start his second century of games in charge.

Certainly Town should win. They owe them one for the humiliating 4-1 thrashing last March, and the Tykes, like Palace have not won away this season in four attempts and have failed to score in their past four games.

derek.davis@eadt.co.uk.

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