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Kings of Anglia Issue 8 Magazine Offer

Key players, surprise packages, thoughts on Hurst and promotion predictions ahead of the big kick-off

PUBLISHED: 16:00 03 August 2018 | UPDATED: 16:41 03 August 2018

Paul Hurst overlooks the Portman Road pitch. His first competitive game there will be against Blackburn Rovers on Saturday. Photo: Steve Waller

Paul Hurst overlooks the Portman Road pitch. His first competitive game there will be against Blackburn Rovers on Saturday. Photo: Steve Waller

© Copyright Stephen Waller

With the new football season just 24 hours away, our team of writers and members of our Fans Jury give their prediction ahead of the big kick-off.

Trevoh Chalobah is on loan from Chelsea.    Picture: Steve WallerTrevoh Chalobah is on loan from Chelsea. Picture: Steve Waller

STUART WATSON

Thoughts on Hurst?

Very impressed. Driven, but humble. A manager, crucially, who sees Ipswich Town as a step up. He and his lower league recruits are full of hunger. The breath of fresh air and calculated gamble that was so badly needed.

Key player?

As it stands, Ellis Harrison. He’ll lead the line, lead the high press and bring others into play. Whoever ends up in the No.10 slot could be even more important though. My gut feeling is that will be end up being Jon Nolan.

Which player will be a surprise package?

Cole Skuse is someone I can see getting a lease of new life under Hurst. He’ll be encouraged to go and get the ball off the defence, play positive passes and disrupt play higher up the field if possible. I’ve always thought he’s one that’s been shackled slightly.

It’s a big season for…

Grant Ward. He’s never really kicked on since that debut hat-trick. The ex-Spurs winger has pace and quality, but he needs to improve his end product and consistency or he won’t be in the team.

Ipswich Town have signed winger Jordan Roberts on a Bosman free transfer from League Two side Crawley Town. Photo: Ipswich Town FCIpswich Town have signed winger Jordan Roberts on a Bosman free transfer from League Two side Crawley Town. Photo: Ipswich Town FC

Predicted finish for Ipswich

I’ll say 11th – one place higher than last season. That will add to an overall sense of a step in the right direction, backed up by increased entertainment value, boosted crowds and the feeling a plan is coming together.

Three teams to go up

Stoke, Derby, Middlesbrough

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MARK HEATH

Thoughts on Hurst?

Very impressive, a breath of fresh air. Calm, assured and determined to shake things up - it may take time, but it’s exciting to feel like there’s finally a plan in place and the right man to lead it.

Key player?

Maybe not at the start of the season, but I think Andre Dozzell, by the end of this campaign, will be an absolutely vital part of the team and a superstar in the making.

Which player will be a surprise package?

Teddy Bishop - if he can get fit, I can see him filling the number 10 spot, pulling plenty of strings and finally starting to fulfill some of that promise he showed before all of his injuries.

It’s a big season for…

Freddie Sears. Such a shame what’s happened to Freddie, a player with such talent but devoid of confidence after seasons being played out of position. He really needs a decent year, otherwise he’ll be off and maybe fall back into Leagues One and Two.

Predicted finish for Ipswich

8th. A bit optimistic maybe, but I really fancy a super-fit and motivated Town squad to finish the season strong and mount a late play-off push.

Three teams to go up

Derby, Stoke, Boro.

Gwion Edwards is Paul Hurst's third signing of the summer. Picture: STEVE WALLERGwion Edwards is Paul Hurst's third signing of the summer. Picture: STEVE WALLER

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ANDY WARREN

Thoughts on Hurst?

I’ve been very impressed with what I’ve seen from the new Ipswich Town boss so far.

Despite taking his first steps at Championship level, he’s not been afraid to shake things up during his early weeks at Portman Road. It’s what was needed, in truth. He’s done it clearly and honestly, has communicated his feelings well and has helped fans understand what is going on at their football club.

I write this at a time when the Blues are scrambling in the transfer market, with Hurst looking to add players, and it remains to be seen what kind of squad he ultimately goes to war with. But the signs on the pitch are promising, with Hurst’s style already seeming to translate to the players.

Key player?

Luke Chambers. The link between old and new was always going to be a vital one, both in terms of the captain/manager link with Hurst and in ensuring the dressing room buys into the new boss’s way of thinking. The signs are good on both fronts.

He stands to be a key player once again in the middle of the Ipswich defence, too, having been one of the Blues’ most reliable players during the second half of last season.

Surprise package?

Cole Skuse. Yes we’ve seen plenty of the midfielder over the last few years, given he was a stalwart under McCarthy, but did we see everything he’s capable of? The signs during pre-season are that Skuse will be afforded more freed in Hurst’s system, able to move the ball more and be positive in possession after picking it up from the Ipswich defence.

It’s a big season for...
Teddy Bishop. We know the talent is there. We all desperately want him to be able to prove his worth on the field, but it’s so sad to see his body continually let him down. A footballer’s best ability is his availability and, with Bishop in the final year of his deal, it’s vital he gets on the field.

Predicted finish for Ipswich

14th. And it will be a positive 14th, with Hurst creating plenty of optimism heading into the 2019/20.

Three teams to go up

Middlesbrough, Derby, Stoke

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MIKE BACON

Ipswich Town have completed the signing of Bristol Rovers forward Ellis Harrison. Picture: ITFCIpswich Town have completed the signing of Bristol Rovers forward Ellis Harrison. Picture: ITFC

Thoughts on Hurst?

Strong-willed and single-minded. Love the fact he has non-league management on his CV, non-league is so character-building. Has plenty to prove and a great opportunity to do so at Portman Road. It could all be a slow burner, but he will get time to make his mark. I’m not expecting Town to be top come Christmas or even reach the play-offs come May! Be nice though.

Key player?

Ellis Harrison. So little seen of him yet, but what Town fans have seen has impressed. All teams need goals, a player to lead the front line and Harrison has huge potential to do that. He will delight in being given a chance to impress higher up the pyramid. Been taught his trade at Bristol Rovers by a certain Marcus Stewart – enough said!

Which player will be a surprise package?

Flynn Downes. Town fans haven’t really seen Downes get a long run in the side. If he is given that chance, I expect him not just to grab it, but to nail down a starting spot. A talented player.

It’s a big season for…

Andre Dozzell. After a terrible injury at the start of last season, Dozzell can’t wait to get a full campaign under his belt. He’s 19 now, has so much class. The talent is obvious and he sees things others don’t. But now he needs game after game after game.

Predicted finish for Ipswich: 9th

Ipswich Town have signed defender Janoi Donacien from Accrington Stanley. Photo: ITFCIpswich Town have signed defender Janoi Donacien from Accrington Stanley. Photo: ITFC

Three teams to go up

Aston Villa, Middlesbrough, Swansea City

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KIEREN STANDLEY

Thoughts on Hurst?

Paul Hurst has been a complete breath of fresh air since coming to the club. He seems to already understand the core values of Ipswich Town and has brought a modern approach that can only take us in a positive direction. I really like his honesty with regards to the squad not being up to his standards and his open persona will carry him a long way with the supporters. A lot remains to be seen but he’s certainly got off to a good start with the way he’s conducted himself since taking over.

Key player?

Andre Dozzell - I honestly believe this will be the year he announces himself on the Championship stage. He seems to have recovered exceptionally since that horrific injury against Birmingham last season, with it evident that he’s been working hard in the gym during his recovery. With a consistent run of games and confidence, I truly believe we could see the birth of a superstar.

Surprise package?

Paul Hurst is led to the media room by press officer Steve Pearce ahead of his unveiling. Photo: Steve WallerPaul Hurst is led to the media room by press officer Steve Pearce ahead of his unveiling. Photo: Steve Waller

Luke Woolfenden. I’ve been a big fan of “Wolfy” since his excellent display against Crystal Palace in the League Cup last season. Having watched him in multiple Under 23’s games since, I’m convinced he isn’t far off breaking into the first-team. I think the fact he’s started most of the pre-season games ahead of Jordan Spence shows just how highly Paul Hurst thinks of him. He may not be ready to play regular Championship football, but I think we could well see him feature multiple times this season.

It’s a big season for…

Grant Ward. Since bursting onto the scene with his debut hat-trick against Barnsley, Ward has suffered massively with inconsistency and lack of confidence. Paul Hurst’s style of play should play into Ward’s hands but as he heads into the final year of his contract, his future at the club is uncertain if he fails to kick on.

Predicted finish for Ipswich

It’s very hard to predict at this stage, especially with Hurst making it clear he still wants a few more bodies through the door. If he can secure the players he wants to bring to the club and successfully implement his philosophies, it could be an interesting year for Town. That said, I don’t think we can expect too much in what is essentially a transitional year. Prediction - 10th

Three teams to go up

Middlesbrough, Stoke, Derby

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BENJAMIN BLOOM

Paul Hurst and assistant Chris Doig have re-energised Town - but many are tipping the Blues for the drop. Picture: STEVE WALLERPaul Hurst and assistant Chris Doig have re-energised Town - but many are tipping the Blues for the drop. Picture: STEVE WALLER

Thoughts on Hurst?

So far so good, talks well and there’s a clear correlation between what he says and what the players and doing. Might need a month or two to get things moving so patience from supporters important.

Key player?

Luke Chambers will be more important than ever as the link between old regime and new and players and coaches

Surprise package?

Cole Skuse, his cautious style under the previous manager irked many fans, me included at times, but I think we’ll see a more playmaker type game this season that may surprise a few fans

It’s a big season for...

Andre Dozzell. Last season was so cruelly stopped before it even started, we’ve known for so long about such an elegant and talented player it would be great to see him a first teamer by the end of the season.

Predicted finish for Ipswich

Optimistically 10th, but the club is completely rebooting so as long as we’re competitive and moving in the right direction then I’m sure anywhere safe will do.

Three teams to go up

Middlesbrough, Stoke, West Brom

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ALISTAIR RATTRAY

Thoughts on Hurst?

The new manager fits exactly the sort of profile that the club so desperately needed and the fans reaction demonstrates that. A policy of recruiting young prospects from the lower leagues, allied to a belief in playing a pressing, attacking style of football, represent a direction that even the most cynical of Town fans can share some optimism in.

The two major issues facing Hurst going into the season relate to recruitment. The club has continued to toil in bringing in the players needed, which leaves the squad considerably light in several key areas. Added to that, exclusively targeting young players to add to the squad also leaves an overall lack of experience, having offloaded several Championship-hardened pros over the last few years. That both of these issues reflect trends which have impacted the club for the last 2-3 seasons is a concern; Hurst may not be able to bring about the hoped for changes if finance dictates what is available to him.

Key player?

Whilst the prospect of losing Martyn Waghorn is a concern, particularly as it is another experienced player, his loss may not have as great an impact if Hurst is able to change our style of play. Instead of a reliance on Waghorn to make something from a limited attacking threat, a more attacking style might mean that goals can be shared through the team.

It seems more likely that our key player will be at the other end of the pitch. With the defence so desperately awaiting recruitment, it will likely fall on the Big Pole in the Goal to once again keep that side of the team on an even keel. It may be for good reason that Hurst saw fit to sign up his best player to a new contract, rather than cash in on him.

Which player will be a surprise package?

Six months ago, Freddie Sears seemed destined for the Portman Road exit. A lack of opportunities, and a lack of confidence playing in unfamiliar roles, seemed to suggest he needed a fresh start. That fresh start may come under Paul Hurst, who has utilised Sears prominently in pre-season. Hurst has also commented on his surprise that wide players were always looking to turn back, a presumed hangover from the previous management, and Sears could potentially really benefit from being given the opportunity to play with a more attack minded mentality.

It’s a big season for…

Grant Ward. After that debut hat-trick, Ward has been very much an inconsistent threat over the following two years. The ability is undoubtedly there, but he has regularly drifted out of games, and consequently out of the team. Now is the time to realise his potential; a new Manager who didn’t bring him into the club may not be as willing to show patience.

It also seems hard to see a future for Joe Garner in this new setup. Given that he hasn’t had a full pre-season to prepare physically, and will likely be one of the higher wage earners, he may be fighting against the tide to make a quick impression.

Predicted finish for Ipswich

Recruitment issues aside, it is hard to see how this can be anything but a season of rebuilding, as Hurst looks to get the message across and get the players buying into the new system. The fact that some of those players may not currently be at the club, and that some who are may not buy into that message, should be instructive to Town fans that this will take time.

Anything around 12th-15th, accompanied by some positive football, some opportunities for youth and some bright introductions from new signings, will represent a positive step forward.

Three teams to go up

Stoke, Middlesbrough and West Brom.

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JOSE LOPEZ LERENA

Thoughts on Hurst?

As the club itself has said, we are in a New Era, a transition after six years under the orders of Mick McCarthy. Paul Hurst seems to be the kind of manager we actually need at the moment.
He has already managed to repair the huge gap between the club and the fans our last manager left plus give us a hope of a bright future. Personally, as much as I read his quotes about players or results (I know it’s only the pre-season) I like him more as he seems to be a very hungry for success, good tactics on field and a strong leader too (as he said, none has a secured place on the team). Time will tell but we must give him our full support.

Key player?

I don’t want to sound rude at all but for me, the key player will be the whole team, we need all of players as part of a big machine for make it works. Anyway, I will say the key player will be, once again, Bartosz Bialkowski, our keeper. As it’s said the best offense is a good defense and we need him to keep our goal safe. I must recognise it’s not the first season he has probably saved us from the relegation thanks to his stunning performance on goal (special mention to the season 2016/17). Let’s hope our big Pole have another stunning season in goal. Powodzenia Bart!

Which player will be surprise package?

Really difficult question this specially after our new arrivals to Portman Road and some youngsters who are showing a great performance during this pre-season… but i am going with these two; Trevoh Chalobah and Luke Woolfenden. In one hand, we have Trevoh Chalobah, the 19 years old international player from Premier League side Chelsea who has just arrived on this summer window on loan for the rest of the season.

On the other hand we have “one of our own”, Luke Woolfenden. He has looked very solid in defence and comfortable under Paul Hurst’s orders during pre-season.

It’s a big season for… 
It’s a big season for all the players who come from an injury. I’m speaking of Andre Dozzell, Emyr Huws, Ted Bishop and Tom Adeyemi. These players were really unlucky with their injuries last season, specially the first two when Dozzell started to look very lively on the pitch during the pre-season and Huws after came from Cardiff after a stunning season on loan here during the season 2016/17.

I don’t want to sound negative in any ways but it is a must for them to prove they can stay fit and show good performance in front of Hurst’s eyes if they don’t want to be forced to walk away from Portman Road either next winter or summer.

Predicted finish for Ipswich

Are you asking me to make a prediction for Ipswich? in the Championship? I even doubt the ancient Greek oracles could have done that!

Iwould say we will end the season 10th which will be quite nice and positive for the start of the new era.

Three teams to go up

West Bromwich Albion, Middlesbrough, Stoke City

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JACK PRENTICE

Thoughts on Hurst? 
I like what I see from Paul Hurst. He’s been straight-talking, honest and what you see is what you get - all characteristics similar to his predecessor. The change in style was badly needed, if not necessarily for results (we’re a mid-table Championship club) then to at least get some excitement and fun back. Bringing in good players from lower leagues with a point to prove has worked for ITFC before, so this all sits well with me.

Key player

Probably Bart. As excited as I am by Edwards and Harrison, this was the best bit of business we could have done, regardless of whether we get close to £8m for the likely soon-departed Martyn Waghorn. In Bialkowski, we have one of if not the best goalkeeper in the league.

Which player will be a surprise package?

If Freddie Sears can get a bit more confidence back, we may well see some of the player that was on fire when he joined from Colchester in 2015. I really hope this is the catalyst he needed.

It’s a big season for…

Sears is in this category too, as he’s looked short of confidence since 2016. Truth be told, there’s plenty in this bracket. Edwards and Harrison are the first parts of a new recruitment philosophy and so need to succeed, while Dozzell, Nydam, Downes and Woolfenden have all threatened to break through into the first team. It’s up to them to give PH a headache as the season progresses. They’ve made a good start though.

Predicted finish for Ipswich

Mid-table but with a bit more fun than last season. I’m not silly enough to think that a new manager will see us promoted by March, nor am I expecting overnight success. We’ll have bad days, but more good ones than the second half of last season. 10-14th, with more goals.

Three to go up

1) West Brom 2) Middlesbrough 3) Derby. Genuinely, I struggled to pick three. The Championship is as wide open as ever. Hopefully we’re the Huddersfield, Cardiff or Burnley of recent years

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JOE FAIRS

Thoughts on Hurst?

I’ve been really impressed with the manner Paul Hurst has gone about his business since arriving here. He has said all the right things since being appointed which has been the perfect tonic after the last few months of Mick.

With regards to the football on display, it is very clear what he is trying to achieve and his ideas seem to be coming across well and it is a style we can all get behind. It may not be the prettiest, but we do look to be trying to pass the ball, and our intense pressing game will see us win the ball higher up the midfield. Gone is the percentage football and players instructed to shirk responsibilty on the ball

Key player?

Luke Chambers. It is vital that the captain and the manager have a good relationship and it appears to be the case so far. Chambers is going to be paired with a fellow CB with no Championship experience, and likely have a RB in a similar position experience wise - and from what I’ve seen in pre season a lot of 1 v 1 defending is required as we push men forwards - so the positioning of not just Chambers, but the rest of the back 4 will be absolutely key.

A leader on and off the pitch, his experience and knowledge will be vital in getting the best out of the players being brought into the side from the lower leagues and the academy.

Which player will be a surprise package?

Trevoh Chalobah. He comes in as a highly rated Chelsea youngster, but I don’t think some Ipswich fans will believe how good he can actually be. He has the lot - technical ability, physically immense, can defend and get forward and score goals. Whilst it may stand in the way of some of our own youngsters progressing, his ability will make him impossible to leave out the side and he’ll be a fun player to watch this season.

It’s a big season for…

Teddy Bishop. Teddy really is in last chance saloon with Ipswich, with the club triggering the option he is now in effectively a 1 year contract at the club. He has had his issues with injuries but looks to have come out the other side and will have a big chance to impress this season. He was brilliant in 2014-15, and looks ideally suited to the number 10 role int he system that Paul Hurst is playing.

All ITFC fans will be hoping that Teddy can put the injury issues behind him and become the player we all know he can be.

Predicted finish for Ipswich

14th - Paul Hurst has had a lot of areas to sort out and was clearly unhappy with the pre season programme that was in place. There has been a lot of changes in the squad and additions have come in, and continue to come in, quite late.

If we can spend the season comfortably in mid table and not involved in a relegation battle at all that will be a very good season and will give fans great hope for 2019/20. Any more than that and we will have a very special manager in the dugout.

Three teams to go up

Stoke, Middlesborough and Derby

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