Failure to land a deadline day striker could create a whole new ball game for Ipswich Town
- Credit: Picture: Steve Waller
Only time will tell if Ipswich Town were too stubborn for their own good.
There’s been plenty of good business done, but Ipswich Town’s most exciting transfer deadline day in years ultimately ended in frustration last night.
Having signed left-winger Tom Lawrence and striker Leon Best on Monday, McCarthy brought popular attacking midfielder Jonny Williams back to the club for a fourth loan spell yesterday.
Finally, Town have plenty of creative spark in the final third, but will they have someone to score the goals after failing to land a replacement for striker Daryl Murphy?
Having had a £1m bid for Barnsley forward Marley Watkins turned down late on Monday, the club quickly decided to move on to other targets. It’s understood that several different approaches were made yesterday, including another seven-figure bid, but all negotiations reached an impasse.
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Some selling clubs were waiting on their own deals, while others ramped up the price knowing that Town have just received £3m for Murphy. McCarthy informed owner Marcus Evans what he felt his targets were worth and, ultimately, the duo – between them – decided to stick to their guns and not pay over the odds as the clock ticked.
It’s admirable in a way. But with the Championship market clearly inflated by the big spending of Newcastle, Aston Villa, Norwich, Sheffield Wednesday, Derby and others, could Town afford to have financial principles?
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They got very good money for a 33-year-old in the final year of his deal. It was bonus cash to spend.
And while it’s understood that money will now be kept to one side to use when the January transfer window opens, there are 19 games to play before then.
One thing is for sure, the Blues will have to change their entire playing identity now.
With no target man, and suddenly a raft of technical midfielders, the ball is going to be spending a lot less time in the air.
If McCarthy sticks to the recent 4-3-3 system which has paid dividends, then only one out-and-out striker is likely to start – Brett Pitman, Freddie Sears, or Leon Best. Pitman looks the most likely to get the nod. A clever player who thrived with creative talent behind him at Bournemouth, he now needs to step up and be the main man on a regular basis.
In support of the lone front man will be three out of Jonny Williams, Tom Lawrence, Grant Ward, Conor Grant, Teddy Bishop or Sears, with David McGoldrick to come back from injury and Andre Dozzell on the periphery.
It has to be about intelligent movement, pace and vision now, not direct, percentage football. Fans wanted additional entertainment value at Portman Road and they should be about to get it.
There’s a chance this could be a transitional campaign for a young squad though. And are supporters willing to put up with that?
Williams – so popular for his ability to tease defenders into fouls and then dust himself off – would have probably been in the Crystal Palace team right now if he hadn’t injured his ankle in pre-season following an impressive showing at Euro 2016 for Wales.
Instead, he’s back in Suffolk for a fourth spell and due to be available for action at the start of October. If Town keep him fit (and that’s a big if)then they have another exciting talent in the midfield mix.
“It’s an amazing feeling for myself walking back into the stadium and I can wait to get started,” enthused the 22-year-old.
“I probably played my best football under Mick (McCarthy), especially my first loan spell. It’s mainly down to him giving me the confidence and letting me express myself on a matchday.
“Being loved by the fans will help me perform to the best of my ability too.”
He added: “It’s important that the core is still there, the likes of Christophe Berra, Chambo (Luke Chambers). There are some lads here that like to play football which is only going to help me. It’s a shame Murph (Daryl Murphy) has gone, but Leon (Best) has just signed and I know Tom (Lawrence, fellow Wales international). I am excited.”