Superstitious nonsense or serious business? - Change on the way as Ipswich Town play the numbers game
- Credit: PA
You either place importance in them or you don't.
For some it's simply a number on the back of a shirt but for others, including me, they are a subculture of their own and are packed with intrigue.
That goes for players and managers, too.
Some players couldn't care less what adorns the back of their shirts while others agonise over the decision of which to wear and are superstitious in the extreme . It's also been known for money to change hands in order to claim a desired numbers.
Some managers personally allocate numbers to their players, making decisions based on those central to their plans, while others place little stock in them and let the players decide for themselves.
And with a completely rebuilt squad this summer, the squad number wheel is spinning as furiously as ever. So here's what I would do.
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1 – Vaclav Hladky
Now I’m not normally one for taking numbers away from players and, if I had the immense honour of allocating them would only really change numbers in the first 11 if people leave, but Vaclav Hladky is Paul Cook’s No.1 goalkeeper and should have the shirt. ‘Demolition Man’ doesn’t seem the type to shy away from changing a few numbers, after all.
2 – Janoi Donacien
The right-back was stripped of his No.2 jersey last summer and, with Kane Vincent-Young seemingly happy with 24, let’s give it back to a player who has played his way back into favour.
3 – Matt Penney
The No.3 shirt is for left-backs and, as the only one at the club right now, Penney should have it. Should Hayden Coulson arrive by the time these shirts are dished out then obviously he should be considered.
4 – George Edmundson
The No.4 jersey at Ipswich Town is a back one to fill following the departure of Luke Chambers this summer. Edmundson, who wore this shirt at Rangers, seems like the man to do it.
5 – Toto Nsiala
Now, I don’t think this will happen, as Toto seems happy in a 22 shirt he has worn since joining Grimsby in 2014 (save his few months at Bolton, when he wore 28). But this summer feels like a fresh start for a player who has had an up-and-down time since joining Ipswich. Give him the five – the vote of confidence could do him the world of good. What I actually think will happen is Toto will keep 22 and either four or five will remain vacant. Alternatively, Harper could take four and Edmundson five. So many possibilities.
6 – Luke Woolfenden
No drama here, Woolfey keeps the six shirt.
7 – Wes Burns
This one seems a simple one, with Burns having worn seven for the last three years at Fleetwood.
8 – Lee Evans
Lee Evans is a No.8 all day long. I’d be astounded if he doesn’t take it at Ipswich.
9 – Macauley Bonne
Now, this might be a controversial choice as I know people have strong opinions about loan players not taking ‘premium’ shirt numbers. But this one’s different. Bonne’s a local boy who dreamed of scoring goals for this club, presumably in the No.9 shirt. Joe Pigott is perhaps the obvious choice here (should the shirt be taken away from Kayden Jackson, which is seems likely to be) but if you gave it to Bonne you could make him feel 10-feet tall. It’s might sell a few more, too.
10 – James Norwood
Norwood has been No.10 since he arrived at Ipswich and taking it away would certainly make a statement. There seems no reason to do that – let the man keep it.
11 – Conor Chaplin
Now this goes against my principles, though I genuinely don’t think Cook shares them. So I’ve moved Jon Nolan to a comfortable home elsewhere and given Chaplin the number he’s worn for the last two seasons at Barnsley.
13 – Tomas Holy
With the No.1 shirt gone, Holy needs a new home. My detective skills tell me he wore 30 a little during his early years at home in the Czech Republic, but I’ve got a feeling he might take the traditional route and play in 13. We’ll see.
14 – Rekeem Harper
This is just a gut feeling one for me. He wore 34 and then 16 at West Brom, with the latter an option here, if he doesn’t take the No.4 jersey in the scenario I previously spelt out in Toto Nsiala’s entry. I just think he’d look good in the No.14 shirt – it's a number I like good players to wear. It’s also a number (excuse me while I blow my own trumpet) I correctly predicted Jack Lankester would take in 2019, several weeks before he had it. I hope I’m right again.
18 – Scott Fraser
Now this is one I really struggled with. He’s deserving of some prime real estate but it’s all taken. He’s worn seven, eight and then 10 in the last three seasons but I haven’t been able to fit him into any of those. He’d also look good in 14 but I’ve landed on 18. I’d be amazed if I got this one right.
19 – Corrie Ndaba
Ndaba had 19 last season and I’m happy for him to keep it. Not impossible Chaplin would fancy this one.
20 – Jon Nolan
A new home for Jon Nolan, who I feel hugely guilty to have stripped of his No.11 shirt. But there’s a nice compromise, putting him back in the shirt he wore when starring for Shrewsbury.
21 – Flynn Downes
We’re at the point where you have to wonder whether the midfielder, banished to the Under 23s and certainly available for transfer, will even get a squad number. If he does, it will surely be the one he’s worn ever since breaking into the first team.
23 – Armando Dobra
It’s time for Dobra to move away from 36. He’s better than that. This 23 shirt is one I love a flair player to wear and the youngster certainly ticks that box. For my money, 23 is the best shirts in the 20s. Maybe one for Fraser, alternatively?
24 – Kane Vincent-Young
Vincent-Young seems happy with his 24 shirt, having not taken two last summer even when Donacien had it taken from him. He looks likely to be sticking again.
26 – Idris El Mizouni
No need for a change here.
30 – Myles Kenlock
See the entry re Flynn Downes.
35 – Kayden Jackson
Sorry Kayden, I’ve had to take the No.9 from you. Like Downes and Kenlock, the striker might be in a position where he isn’t given a number at all, but I’ve put him in 35. That’s the number he wore when we first crossed paths while the forward was playing for Swindon Town and I was covering the Wiltshire club. Why not, eh?
39 – Joe Pigott
Here’s a fun fact, the striker has never worn anything lower than 23 throughout his entire professional football career. There’s a definite argument for him to take the No.9 shirt now, though. But he’s worn 39 for the last four years, all at AFC Wimbledon, where he truly made his name and scored a bucket load of goals. He clearly likes it, so maybe Ipswich should let him continue with it. Nine would be fitting, though.