North Stander: Entertaining and worrying - but I'm staying positive

MK Dons celebrate after their second.

MK dons celebrate after pegging Ipswich Town back again in the 2-2 draw at Portman Road yesterday - Credit: Steve Waller - www.stephenwaller

Ipswich Town fan and journalist Terry Hunt shares his thoughts on the Blues after the 2-2 draw with MK Dons....

Throughout the desperately dull and underwhelming Marcus Evans era, most Ipswich fans were crying out for entertaining and successful football. Well, one out of two is a start!

There’s no doubt that the football being played by Paul Cook’s new-look team is entertaining. Take the MK Dons game.

Four goals, lots of exhilarating, attacking play, and goalmouth action galore. A very welcome contrast to the dire fare of recent years.

Macauley Bonne’s first goal on Saturday was one of the best seen at Portman Road for a long time. To pick himself up after his horror miss in midweek shows a player with real strength of character – again, something conspicuous by its absence in recent seasons.

Kyle Edwards.

Kyle Edwards. - Credit: Steve Waller - www.stephenwaller

In Ipswich boy Bonne and Kyle Edwards, Town fans have two players to be really excited about. Mark Ashton and Paul Cook have pulled off something of a footballing miracle to get Edwards to Portman Road. Player of the season in League One? Could be...

So, there’s no doubting that the much-needed entertainment factor is back. I’m pretty certain that I won’t spend many games this season sitting in my seat daydreaming about doing something more exciting instead – like mowing the lawn.

But, having said all of that, there is the big downside, of course. The fact is we’re not winning games. That’s five now, including the Mickey Mouse Cup defeat.

There’s a solid argument that we could, and perhaps should, have won all of them. We’ve certainly been the better team for significant periods of games. But being the better team counts for nothing without results.

So, as it stands, the league table looks absolutely awful, with Town sitting 20th in League One. There’s already a sizeable eight point gap between us and the leaders, which is where we all hoped we would be at this point.

As everyone knows, our downfall has been players making individual mistakes, and gifting the opposition goals. It’s happened in just about every game, and it’s costing us dear.

We have to work so hard for our goals, and then we gift wrap chances for our opponents. The result is that we’ve conceded eight goals in our four league games. No team in this desperately poor division has let in more.

So why are we self-destructing so often, when our general play is pretty good? I think it all comes back to the fact that the team is still a work in progress.

When you’re accustomed to playing alongside your team-mates, you instinctively know what they’ll do, where they’ll be. You can play a pass without even thinking about it. With new team-mates, that instinctive partnership hasn’t developed.

You might hang on to the ball for a second or two too long, trying to make sure. That’s all it takes to be robbed and for the other team to get away.

Town manager Paul Cook looks unimpressed.

Town manager Paul Cook looks unimpressed. - Credit: Steve Waller - www.stephenwaller

There have been numerous examples of hesitation costing us and, even in lowly League One, such mistakes often lead to goals.

We all need to keep the faith, and it will improve. But it will take time, as Paul Cook himself has publicly recognised. Of course it’s frustrating, but booing the players really isn’t the answer. What on earth do people think that can possibly achieve?

Despite the disappointing start, I still feel positive, and I believe the majority of Town fans are in the same place.

The one negative aspect which really continues to frustrate me is the amount of injuries piling up. It’s a curse which has afflicted us for several seasons now, and it shows absolutely no sign of going away anytime soon.

There are players we haven’t seen at all this season, including Jon Nolan and the much-needed centre-half George Edmundson. What makes it even more irritating is that Cook refuses to talk about injured players, so we have little idea about their progress, what’s actually wrong with them, or when they’ll be back.

Of course I understand the need to be a little cagey, and not give the upcoming opposition too much information, but being so evasive really is short-changing us, the paying customers. Whinge over!

Cook now has a clear week with the players before next Saturday’s home game. Let’s hope that helps accelerate the “gelling” process, and next weekend sees us grab that first win – with no gifts presented to the opposition!

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