It’s time for Mick McCarthy to make David McGoldrick his main man, says former Ipswich Town boss George Burley
It’s time Mick McCarthy started making David McGoldrick the main man in his Ipswich Town team.
So says ex-manager George Burley and former player-turned-pundit Alex Mathie, the duo insistent that the silky forward is the key to the Blues turning their fortunes around.
Town have slipped from top to 13th in the Championship table following the return of just seven points from their last nine games, but there were positives to take from last weekend’s 1-1 draw at Nottingham Forest.
McCarthy abandoned his favoured 4-4-2 formation for an ultra-attacking 4-3-3 formation at The City Ground, starting strike trio McGoldrick, Daryl Murphy and Freddie Sears together for the first time and including forward-thinking midfielders Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Kevin Bru behind them.
Speaking ahead of back-to-back home games against Cardiff (Saturday) and Bolton (Tuesday), Burley said: “Mick has got a good squad of players and I think he’s still just trying to find that right combination, that right blend.
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“I think all the good qualities of last year are still there – a good team spirit and players willing to work hard – it’s now just about finding that right balance, something which is just eluding them at the minute.
“For me, finding a blend that suits David McGoldrick is key because he can offer something that no-one else in the squad can.
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“He’s a special player and you have to find way to work around your special player. Eric Gates was a bit like that for us in the 70s and 80s. He didn’t play up front and he didn’t play in midfield, but we always found a balance that suited him because of what he could do.”
Former Blues striker Mathie, who now co-commentates on Town for BBC Suffolk, agrees. He said: “I think part of the problem is that Mick has got that good a squad he doesn’t really know what his best starting eleven is. I do think he’s getting close to finding it now though.
“I was a bit surprised to see him go so gung-ho at Forest last weekend and, although they didn’t hold on for the win, I thought there were some positive signs. I really hope he sticks with that system for these up-and-coming home games because you need your attacking talent on the field at home.
“For me, starting McGoldrick, Sears and Murphy has got to be the way to go. I know Murphy is not scoring, but I still think you need his presence up top.
“In a 4-4-2 formation I don’t think you can afford to have Luke Chambers as a right-back because he just doesn’t bomb on enough. I’ve got no problem with him playing that role in a 4-3-3 though.
“I don’t think the balance was right between Cole Skuse and Jonathan Douglas as central midfield pairing. I liked the balance of the midfield three at Forest though, Skuse sitting deeper with Bru and Maitland-Niles able to attack.
“McGoldrick definitely has got to play because he makes us tick. I think he just needs games now to build up his match sharpness.”