Mike Bacon: My biggest worry? How the hell are we going to keep hold of our young players?

Portman Road

Portman Road - Credit: PA

MIKE BACON takes a look at life at Portman Road. And wonders what the future holds for Town’s young stars

Skipper Luke Chambers appeals to the referee after Hulls second goal.
Picture: Steve Waller
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Skipper Luke Chambers appeals to the referee after Hulls second goal. Picture: Steve Waller www.stephenwaller.com - Credit: Picture: Steve Waller

We’ll probably draw with Charlton on Saturday.

Ipswich Town’s ‘big three-game home week’ will likely end up with one win, one draw and one defeat. Just what one of my colleagues here in the sports department predicted, while I was ra-raring in this column last time out, three wins and nine points will finally show the rest of League One in the words of that famous old song the North Stand used to sing... ‘Shall we tell ‘em?.... Who we are’.

I was being over-optimistic - Again!

Here we are, treading water. Doing just enough.


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It’s just getting all too predictable and has been this way for far too long.

Out of all the cups by November - that’s surely an Ipswich Town club record in itself - and unable to see off any ‘top’ League One sides.

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Even all those smart alecs who were irritating the hell out of us by saying, ‘be careful what we wished for’, when Mick McCarthy left, have given up taking a pop. Our plight is good enough for them right now.

Yes, we are still in the play-off places, yes we have had - and are enduring - our fair share of injuries. Yes, we haven’t had the rub of the green in a couple of games.

Keanan Bennetts is held back by Josh Emmanuel as he tries to get his heads to the ball.
Picture: Steve Waller...

Keanan Bennetts is held back by Josh Emmanuel as he tries to get his heads to the ball. Picture: Steve Waller www.stephenwaller.com - Credit: Picture: Steve Waller

But, do you honestly think we look like a really decent football team?

Perhaps the reality is something we don’t like to admit... We are in League One because we have League One players.

Not there’s any shame in that.

Town manager Paul Lambert looks on as Town slip to defeat last night to Hull.
Picture: Steve Waller...

Town manager Paul Lambert looks on as Town slip to defeat last night to Hull. Picture: Steve Waller www.stephenwaller.com - Credit: Picture: Steve Waller

MORE: Stu Watson’s observations on the Hull defeat

It’s just... I don’t know... I just thought our players, especially our senior ones, would be good enough to take a real grip on this division and show they are head and shoulders above it - perhaps I’m wrong.

Then again, I’m trying to think how I would feel if I were one of our young players - Dozzell, Downes, Woolfenden, Lankester, McGavin, Dobra... Would I see my future at Portman Road? Or would I be telling my agent, ‘I’m not quite a celebrity - but Get Me Out of Here’.

And that for me is the biggest worry Ipswich Town face if they don’t get promoted.

I’m sure our young players already watch the Premier League, the Champions League and see players their own age (and younger) plying their trade in the game, earning fortunes, playing with better players, making progress, making waves.

If Town were in the Championship, then maybe that’s not a step too far for them. But League One is miles away. Chuck in salary caps and playing for a club that doesn’t take any cup competitions seriously, and well.... See ya!

So, we’re bobbing along and apparently the players need to be a bit ‘more nasty’ according to the manager.

Kayden Jackson gets beyond Josh Emmanuel. Picture: Steve Waller
www.stephenwaller.com

Kayden Jackson gets beyond Josh Emmanuel. Picture: Steve Waller www.stephenwaller.com - Credit: Picture: Steve Waller

I’m not quite sure what that entails. I assume it means, be a bit ‘tougher’/’harder’/’fightier’!

MORE: Lambert: ‘Be more nasty’

Jack Lankester in a battle with Callum Elder.
Picture: Steve Waller
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Jack Lankester in a battle with Callum Elder. Picture: Steve Waller www.stephenwaller.com - Credit: Picture: Steve Waller

Not easy that for a 19 or 20-year-old to be told he’s to get out there among senior pro opponents in their late 20s and 30s, and ‘be nasty’. I understand to a degree what Lambert is saying, but surely that’s what he’s got his senior men for? Young players are still developing physically. Let them play.

Personally, I’d ask youngsters to be braver on the ball, take players on, take chances, run at people. Fill them with confidence that they can do this. Not worry them about ‘being nasty’.

So, I’m not quite sure how long the queue will be for the 4,000 to head back into the stadium next month!

I’m only kidding of course. Our fans are great and support the club unconditionally, they’ll be there.

Jacob Greaves and Reece Burke crowd out James Norwood.
Picture: Steve Waller
www.stephenwaller.com

Jacob Greaves and Reece Burke crowd out James Norwood. Picture: Steve Waller www.stephenwaller.com - Credit: Picture: Steve Waller

Soon 2020 will be behind us and for a whole host of reasons that will be a good thing. And hopefully this uninspiring decade in the Blues’ history will soon be behind us as well. However it may end.

Because for most Town fans, it’s debilitating.

Skipper Luke Chambers at the final whistle.
Picture: Steve Waller
www.stephenwaller.com

Skipper Luke Chambers at the final whistle. Picture: Steve Waller www.stephenwaller.com - Credit: Picture: Steve Waller

Oli Hawkins fouls George Honeyman.
Picture: Steve Waller
www.stephenwaller.com

Oli Hawkins fouls George Honeyman. Picture: Steve Waller www.stephenwaller.com - Credit: Picture: Steve Waller

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