No player-of-the-year award at Ipswich Town... but there were some shining lights in a campaign of failure
- Credit: Archant
There will be no player-of-the-year award handed out at Ipswich Town this season. Here we look at the contenders for the prize had it been presented.
If this award had been presented as planned, there would surely only have been one winner.
The young midfielder was excellent in the Town engine room during 2019/20, even when things were falling away for the team.
We always thought the academy graduate would be a central figure this season but, as he trudged off the pitch following a red card for a violent headbutt in the final pre-season game, you began to wonder whether the campaign wasn’t going to shape up as we all hoped.
But, to his great credit, he got himself together and the red mist never truly fell again. He plays on the edge, and that’s what makes him great to watch, so learning to manage how closely he tiptoes along that edge is vital.
His touch developed as the season went on, with his ability to open up the game for himself as soon as he receives the ball becoming something of a trademark.
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He scored twice, both with his head, but knows he needs to do that more often.
We have to hope we get to see the next stage of his progression in Ipswich blue, given the level of Premier League eyes sending admiring glances.
The second of Ipswich’s two crown jewels.
It’s sometimes easy to forget this was really the young defender’s breakthrough campaign at Portman Road, following an impressive spell in League Two with Swindon at a time when the Blues were hurtling towards relegation.
The academy youngster made a starting spot his own from day one, with his smooth, ice cool approach the game serving him well. He reads the game well, is good positionally and for a brief spell showed how well he could operate as a marauding centre-back.
He had his off days, finding some of League One’s bigger strikers tough to handle at time and occasionally switching off, but on the whole he was a consistent performer.
It’s no wonder clubs higher up the food chain are taking a look.
The striker found the jump from League Two to the Championship a tough one during his first own season, meaning he entered this one unsure quite how he would fit into Lambert’s plans.
Indeed, he spoke during the Blues’ summer trip to Germany about wanting to reach double figures in terms of starts, but ended it with 11 goals.
He hit it off early with James Norwood and the pair found the net for fun in pre-season, with that forming rolling over into the competitive games. We know his pace is a weapon – and he’s learned to use that better both through the middle and out in the channels.
He scored in nine separate games, with Ipswich winning all nine of those. Impressive.
Nothing exemplifies Town’s fast start to the season like Garbutt’s first few weeks as an Ipswich player.
Playing on the left side of midfield, the Everton loanee scored the winner on his debut at Burton, netted again in the draw with Sunderland and fired a stunning free-kick into the top corner against Tranmere. Surely a leading contender for goal of the season. I’ll be honest, my favourite of the campaign was provided by a clever cross from Garbutt at Wycombe, as he took a free-kick quickly and found the head of Norwood.
His form dropped off a little but he still continued to contribute, ending the season on six goals.
Town fans would like to see Garbutt return full-time and, though a move appears unlikely, he’s insisted he will never close the door on the club.
Oh what could have been had the former Colchester man been able to stay fit all season.
It says a lot about Town’s season that there will be those who genuinely consider Vincent-Young for this award despite the fact he’s still only played nine games for the club.
His impact, following his mid-August arrival, cannot be understated. He simply give the Blues a different dimension from right-back, with much of their attacking play coming through him as he confidently marauding up and down the flank.
The groin injury which ended his season hit the Blues hard. They never really recovered.
It will be a joy when we’re able to see him in action again.
A more enthusiastic footballer you will not meet.
Holy and Ipswich hit it off immediately, with the Czech goalkeeper ‘falling in love’ with the club from the moment he arrived.
His early season form was good, equalling a club record with five successive clean sheets before conceding against Tranmere in September.
His biggest moment came with a stunning penalty save to rescue a point against Wycombe at Portman Road, but the fact he and Will Norris swapped the No.1 jersey on a seemingly weekly basis made it difficult for him to maintain a rhythm.
Despite his struggles, the summer signing still ended the campaign as the Blues’ joint leading scorer, alongside Jackson.
Hopes were high following his move from Tranmere and he started with a bang, netting five times in his first six games and capturing the imagination of supporters with his displays on the pitch and wrestling-themed celebrations on social media. Goodness me, that seems a long time ago now.
The forward struggled when one-on-one with the goalkeeper and missed a string of chances, with the man himself the first to admit he should have scored more.
He was hampered by a groin injury throughout the campaign, which he says meant he was only able to play at 50%, but should be raring to go when the new season eventually starts.