Five things we've learned from Ipswich Town's winless start
- Credit: Steve Waller - www.stephenwaller
Ipswich Town have started the new season with two draws and three defeats. STUART WATSON takes a look at what we've learned so far.
It's easy to forget just how mind-numbingly dull the Blues have been to watch over recent years.
From the ultra-pragmatism of Mick McCarthy's end of days, to the equally frustrating possession-without-punch football under Paul Lambert. We were bemoaning the fact that Town hadn't produced a shot on target until deep into matches far too often.
Whatever happens this season, it's clear that this new-look Paul Cook side is going to entertain.
The full-backs bomb on. Wingers take on their man. Players shoot from outside the box. Some top quality goals, of different varieties, have been scored.
Town have bagged six and conceded nine across their opening five matches. They could and should have netted more. Mind you, the goals against column could be greater too.
- 1 Family of hairdresser, 17, who died in her sleep 'overwhelmed' by tributes
- 2 Suffolk petrol stations avoid closure as garages shut nationwide
- 3 Don't panic buy - warning as queues form at petrol stations
- 4 Explained: What is causing the long queues at petrol stations?
- 5 'We've lost one or two from last week' - Cook reveals fresh injury set-back
- 6 Jailed company boss to sell home to repay swindled customers
- 7 'Complete waste of our money' - uproar over Santa's grotto
- 8 Road off A14 closed after serious collision
- 9 Cook believes Ipswich are 'biggest and best' club in League One
- 10 Ipswich mum 'eating junk food and take-aways' goes from size 22 to 12
It's open, front foot football which has been fun and frustrating in equal measure. One minute you're off your seat in delight, the next you've got your heads in your hands through despair.
So yes, it's mixed emotions after a winless start, but at least we're feeling something again after so long being comfortably numb.
TOWN HAVE LEVELLED UP
Town have signed 16 players so far this summer transfer window - and it looks like they've levelled up in several positions.
Kyle Edwards has undoubtedly been the pick of the new boys thus far. His skillful wing play on the left has been a joy to watch over the last three games. Championship clubs will be kicking themselves that they didn't make a move while he was a free agent.
And it's clear that his former West Brom team-mate Reekem Harper has all the tools to be a very good central midfielder for the club. It's going to be fun watching him develop.
Macauley Bonne, on loan from QPR, has been the one who has perhaps exceeded expectations. It's clear how much the striker loves playing for his home town club. He shrugged off a horror miss at Cheltenham in style with a fine brace at the weekend. It's his place to lose now.
Cameron Burgess has added some physicality and left-footed balance to the heart of defence, while attacking midfielder Scott Fraser has shown he's a classy player who can score and assist too.
There are some who haven't convinced quite as much. Keeper Vaclav Hladky (some nervy moments), skipper Lee Evans (inconsistent thus far), winger Wes Burns (end product not quite there) and striker Joe Pigott (not the instant impact many expected from a proven goalscorer) all probably fall in that category. Matt Penney and Louie Barry have had ups and downs. Of course, reputations will rise and fall as the season progresses.
Meanwhile, we're yet to see much (or any) of the likes of George Edmundson, Hayden Coulson, Tom Carroll, Conor Chaplin or Sone Aluko.
WORK IN PROGRESS
Paul Cook has admitted he doesn't know what his best team is yet.
Late arrivals and injuries have not helped. Already, he's used 27 different players across five matches.
There have been 18 different starters across the four leagues games, six more in the Carabao Cup, plus an additional three that have only featured off the bench thus far.
Luke Woolfenden is the only player to have started all five games - but there's every chance he is ousted by Edmundson once he's fit.
Hladky, Evans, Harper and Fraser are the four other players who have been league ever-presents thus far. And Fraser's been used in three different roles.
It means, aside from the midfield duo of Evans and Harper, no real combinations have been worked on.
Down the left we've had Penney + Fraser, Bailey Clements + Armando Dobra, Penney + Dobra, Penney + Edwards and Coulson + Edwards.
Down the right we've had Kane Vincent-Young + Burns (x2), Janoi Donacien + Aluko, Vincent-Young + Fraser and Donacien + Fraser.
At centre-back we've had Woolfenden + Nsiala, Woolfenden + Corrie Ndaba, Woolfenden + Donacien and Woolfenden + Burgess (x2).
And in the No.9/No.10 axis, we've had Pigott + Chaplin, Bonne + Barry, Pigott + Barry, Bonne + Pigott and Bonne + Fraser.
The quicker some preferred partnerships are found the better.
LACKING THAT KILLER INSTINCT
Town have had moments in all five games where they've looked in control and well on top.
Yet they still find themselves winless thanks to a combination of not extending leads and gifting the opposition goals.
If Fraser converts his spot-kick at Burton, the Blues go 2-1 up just before the hour and it's probably a different story.
If Bonne doesn't fluff his lines, the Blues are 2-0 up after just 12 minutes at Cheltenham and it's probably a different story.
If Wes Burns or Bonne take good chances in the box, Town go 2-0 up against MK Dons early in the second half and it's probably a different story.
It certainly feels like the Blues need that two-goal margin to see out games at the moment, because the individual defensive errors are proving so costly.
Town's defence was collectively hesitant for Morecambe's opener, then Penney's short pass and Woolfenden's failed attempt to dribble past a striker proved costly for the Shrimps' second.
The Blues switched off at a quickly taken short free-kick for Newport's goal in the cup (granted it was a good finish by Timmy Abraham), then they left big gaps on the counter for Burton's two goals.
At Cheltenham, they were twice undone by long throws into the area. Against MK Dons, Woolfenden conceded a soft free-kick and Hladky was poorly positioned for Scott Twine's dead ball finish. Evans' loose touch and unawareness in a dangerous position was punished for the second.
Town need to find that killer instinct and start converting some of these performances into more points.
INJURY CURSE NOT LIFTED
A lot has changed at Ipswich Town, including the sports science and fitness departments, but the injury curse remains.
Toto Nsiala and James Norwood both limped off with hamstring problems during the opening day draw against Morecambe.
Conor Chaplin, Sone Aluko and Wes Burns all suffered muscle injuries after their debuts, Jon Nolan went into the season with a calf issue, while Edmundson was signed with an injury.
Seven players in the treatment so early on is not good.