Stu says: Five observations following Town's 2-0 loss at Charlton
- Credit: Steve Waller - stephenwaller.com
John McGreal's first game as interim manager of Ipswich Town ended with a 2-0 defeat at Charlton Athletic last night. STUART WATSON reflects.
At 1pm yesterday afternoon, Ipswich Town put out a tweet which read 'another sold out away end awaits this evening!' It was accompanied by an image of Blues supporters reaching over the hoardings to congratulate a beaming Toto Nsiala following the 4-1 win at Wycombe.
That didn't age well. Less than nine hours later and Nsiala was marching towards the away end at The Valley to confront a baying mob chanting 'you're not fit to wear the shirt'. Goodness knows what he was trying to achieve.
Team-mate Christian Walton tried to keep the peace. One 'fan' leapt onto the pitch and gave Town's man-of-the-match a shove before being bundled away by stewards. It was all rather unsavoury.
'Emotions are high' said Town interim boss John McGreal afterwards. That's an understatement.
How on earth do we find ourselves here?
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Remarkably, that win at Wycombe was only 36 days ago. It feels like a lifetime.
The act of physically pushing a player was idiotic. Town's travelling army of 3,159 supporters were right to be angry though. They started out singing loud and proud, but got very little back in return from the players.
Outsiders, perhaps even insiders fresh to this club, will no doubt label this reaction dramatic and unhelpful. Nonsense.
This long-suffering fan base were sold a dream. This time it didn't feel like a pipe dream. And so, despite the emotional scars running deep, hearts and minds were once again committed. Because that's what fans do. They're want to believe. They're desperate to believe.
But here we go again... Everything has changed, but nothing has changed.
That's why this current situation hurts so much.
It was actually a reasonable start to the game from Town.
As soon as Jayden Stockley had gobbled up a rebound goal in the 26th minute though you could visibly see one side grow and the other crumble.
Confidence and momentum is everything in football. Ipswich have none right now.
Simple touches and passes went astray. Bad options were taken in possession. Players weren't on the same wavelength.
A Town player would be dispossessed high and then, within seconds, Charlton would have a chance to score.
The hope was that these underperforming players would be shocked into action following Paul Cook's sacking. The fear was that they would appear befuddled. Sadly, we got the latter.
We were told that 'character' was at the top of the attributes list when this squad was put together. We were told that they had all bought into the 'running towards adversity' mantra of the new ownership. None of that was evident last night.
'We ran all over them' was the verdict of Charlton midfielder Alex Gilbey afterwards. He's not wrong.
Town skipper Sam Morsy, in particular, needs to step up.
HE'S A KEEPER
The only reason this scoreline wasn't a total embarrassment is because of Christian Walton.
Town's goalkeeper made six big saves in this match before Alex Gilbey's smart turn and cool finish finally killed the game off in the 88th minute.
Among the Brighton loanee's highlights was staying big to block a close-range header, keeping out a one-on-one attempt with his leg and diving full stretch to claw an effort out the top corner.
George Edmundson (twice) and Nsiala both had last-ditch blocks in the box too. Elliott Lee headed a golden chance over as well.
All the time it stayed 1-0, Charlton fans must have been fearing an unjust equaliser was on the way.
The truth is, however, Town looked like they could have played all night and not scored.
Town ended this game having failed to produce a shot on target. They have now failed to score in six of their last nine games.
McGreal opted to stick with Cook's favoured 4-2-3-1 system. A frustrated looking Macauley Bonne was horribly isolated up front and fed off the most meagre of scraps. Goal-drought aside, he's not terrorising centre-backs like he was.
Kyle Edwards and Sone Aluko ran into some dead ends. Inverted wingers isn't doing much for good service into the box.
Scott Fraser, playing in the No.10 role, saw one fine sweeping cross just evade Bonne. Other than that, very little came off for him.
Morsy's forward forays caused more harm than good. Lee Evans was largely anonymous.
Kane Vincent-Young made some early charges from right-back but soon gassed. Janoi Donacien looked a little lost at left-back. There were times where centre-half Nsiala appeared frozen to the spot with the ball at his feet.
Joe Pigott replaced Fraser in the 63rd minute and Town switched to a 4-4-2. By that point though, the tone of the night had been set.
Town chief executive Mark Ashton insisted on Monday that 'this season's not dead'. Well very soon it could be on life support.
The Blues remain in 11th place, but the gap to the play-off places has grown to nine points and they've played a game or two more than six of the teams above them.
On Saturday, it's high-flying Wigan away. Then it's the FA Cup second round replay at Barrow - live on ITV (gulp). Then it's the big home game against Sunderland, which will be played in front of all the US owners and a bumper crowd of 28,000+.
What will prospective Town managers have made of last night's display and the scenes afterwards? Might it put some off? Maybe they'll be thinking it's a good opportunity to come in and make a real impact? Who knows.
Stayed tuned for the latest chapter in the Ipswich Town soap opera.