Cup exit could be a blessing in disguise, says Butcher

Ben Kennedy (party hidden) puts Stevenage 1-0 ahead on Tuesday night. Picture: Steve Waller
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Ben Kennedy (party hidden) puts Stevenage 1-0 ahead on Tuesday night. Picture: Steve Waller www.stephenwaller.com - Credit: Picture: Steve Waller

Ipswich Town legend Terry Butcher believes an embarrassing EFL Cup first round exit to Stevenage might turn out to be a blessing in disguise.

Mick McCarthy made seven changes to the team which beat Barnsley 4-2 on the opening weekend of the Championship season, but it was still a largely experienced team that lost 1-0 to an outfit that finished 18th in League Two last season.

Butcher, who co-commentated on the game for BBC Suffolk at Portman Road on Tuesday night, said: “Mick clearly wanted to progress, the team he picked showed that, but going out might prove to be a blessing in disguise.

“The second round game would have been squeezed in at the end of this month and made it seven matches in August. We’ve got three big games coming up in Brentford away (Saturday), Wolves away (next Tuesday) and then the home derby against Norwich (Sunday, August 21) and if we do well in those then Tuesday night will quickly be forgotten.

“The performance will give Mick food for thought about his squad. He might just have to have a go at a few of them.

“It’s a wake-up call and will refocus the minds a little bit. It might just be a good thing.”

On the performance against Stevenage, he said: “Mick has clearly got the team trying to pass the ball more, and, ironically, they got in better positions than they did against Barnsley. I thought they played well enough actually and I’m encouraged by the style of play – it’s just got to be executed better.

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“When they reached the final third the final ball was poor. Jonas Knudsen’s crossing, in particular, was woeful.

“And I think Tuesday highlighted just how important Daryl Murphy is to the team. If we are going to get more crosses into the box then you need his presence.

“Freddie Sears looks really short of confidence and he probably needs a run of five or six games back up front to get that sharpness and instinctiveness back.

“I thought Stevenage dominated our two centre-backs, Tommy Smith and Paul Digby, and we conceded too much possession to their strikers.”

Butcher added: “I think if Mick had played the team that finished the game on Saturday they’d have run out comfortable winners. He’s damned if he does and damned if he doesn’t though. You can’t blame him for making changes. That team should have still been good enough to progress.”

– See today’s EADT and Ipswich Star for an breakdown of Ipswich Town’s cup misery under Mick McCarthy.

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