North Stander: We should look to Europe for our new boss

Ipswich Town caretaker Manager John McGreal at Wigan during the first half. 11/12/2021 Wigan Athleti

John McGreal is in temporary charge of Ipswich Town as it stands. Terry Hunt thinks the Blues should look to Europe for their new boss - Credit: Phill Heywood

Ipswich Town fan and journalist Terry Hunt shares his thoughts on the Blues after the 1-1 draw at Wigan...

That’s better. It’s something for the new manager to build on – assuming a permanent boss will be in charge for next Saturday’s big game against Sunderland.

After the abject, spineless surrender at Charlton, we needed to see some spirit, some character, and some fight, and that’s what we got against high-flying Wigan.

Of course, we conceded a poor set-piece goal, but then showed some courage to come back, level the scores, and we were the better side in the last 30 minutes.

Inevitably, James Norwood’s goal grabbed the headlines, and most of the comments on social media. He’d been exiled to the football equivalent of Siberia, mostly because of off-field baggage.

Macauley Bonne gives goalscorer James Norwood a hug after the final whistle at Wigan

Macauley Bonne gives goalscorer James Norwood a hug after the final whistle at Wigan - Credit: Phill Heywood

I always think it’s a bad sign when senior players are made to train and play with the kids. You’ll remember it happened towards the end of Paul Lambert’s time at Ipswich. To me, it’s a signal that not all is well behind the scenes.

If Norwood can stay fit and firing, he can be like a new signing. There’s never been any doubt about his goalscoring ability. His record speaks for itself.

John McGreal, thank goodness, has decided to play two up front, on the basis that it puts opposing defences under more pressure. Shame one or two of our previous managers didn’t think that way!

If the new permanent gaffer keeps that formation – and I really hope he does – then he will have three senior strikers to choose from, in Norwood, Macauley Bonne and Joe Pigott. Two starting and one on the bench. Quite an exciting prospect!

I think McGreal has done pretty well in difficult circumstances. The players let him down badly at Charlton, and I really hope they know it. They should have been thoroughly embarrassed.

But they showed some fight at Wigan, and the caretaker boss demonstrated some flexibility in swapping his full-backs round at half-time. That kind of tactical awareness during games was a real weakness for Paul Cook.

So, when will we meet the new manager? One thing is clear – the Portman Road hierarchy didn’t have anyone in place when they got rid of Cook. It’s a stark contrast to the Marcus Evans era, when the new man would almost meet his successor in the car park as he was leaving!

There’s been a huge amount of speculation about the identity of the new boss – from big names like Frank Lampard and John Terry, to experienced campaigners like Neil Warnock and Neil Harris, to up-and-coming coaches such as Liam Manning.

Personally, I’d like to see us look to Europe for a young, bright coach. Rather like (whisper it) Norwich did when they recruited Daniel Farke. That worked pretty well, didn’t it?

So, I’d be delighted if, at some point in the next few days, we name a new manager I’ve never heard of, from somewhere in Europe. It would be great to welcome him for the huge game against Sunderland next Saturday.

There’s certainly plenty for the new man to do. Yes, the result and performance at Wigan was a big improvement, but the harsh reality is that since the high point at Wycombe, our form has fallen off a cliff.

Goal! James Norwood scores for Ipswich after his return to the first team at Wigan

Goal! James Norwood scores for Ipswich after his return to the first team at Wigan - Credit: Phill Heywood

The goals have dried up, and we’re not creating chances. On that, I would question the. pairing of Sam Morsy and Lee Evans. Surely they’re too similar, and lacking defence-splitting creativity?

I wouldn’t insult them by mentioning the “Skuglas” nightmare, when Mick McCarthy kept picking Cole Skuse and Jonathan Douglas as his central midfield pairing, but there is a similarity.

Up front, Macauley Bonne is really struggling. He just needs a tap-in, or a lucky deflection, to get him going again. As I’ve said, James Norwood can play an important role in that department.

Defensively, we look ok. Christian Walton is a really good keeper, and basically was on his own keeping Charlton at bay in midweek. In front of him, George Edmundson is a class act. We need to get promoted if we want to hang on to him.

I’m pleased Cameron Burgess is back in the team. Toto Nsiala is brave, but is so error-prone he makes me nervous every time he’s on the ball. And Kane Vincent-Young at left-back? It could well work.

So, it looks like this week will mark the start of yet another new era for Ipswich Town. Let’s hope we get the right man this time. The target is clear – make the top six. It’s not out of reach, but our form has to improve dramatically, and quickly.

Firstly, let’s try to avoid being embarrassed on national TV as we travel to Barrow in the cup. Remember Lincoln? How can we forget...

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