MONDAY VERDICT: Ipswich are depressingly predictable – and it will be apathy, not anger that speaks loudest tomorrow night
It was all so depressingly predictable.
Saturday’s game at Blackburn always had nil-nil written all over it and that is exactly what transpired.
Ipswich Town have now gone five games – and more than eight hours of action – without scoring a goal.
It was, to be fair, a fourth clean sheet in six. The Blues never looked like conceding at Ewood Park and, it should be pointed out, did create plenty more chances than of late.
In isolation, this was a reasonable performance. As part of the bigger picture it was another binary code scoreline to continue the mind-numbingly dull theme of 2016.
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Since the opening day 4-2 home win over Barnsley (how long ago that seems) it’s been: Goals for: 000111100000. Against: 120102001010.
Town’s hard-working, good bunch of thoroughly nice lads are never thrashed, but they never, ever look like handing out a thrashing either. Their biggest win of the near four-year Mick McCarthy era is 4-0 over Middlesbrough at Portman Road back in February 2013 – and that was the day McCarthy was absent through illness, leaving Terry Connor in charge.
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There is always enough solidity about the club, on and off the pitch, to prevent excessive criticism. There is never enough spark, skill, or positive momentum to engender any real sense of excitement of optimism either.
The ‘boring, boring Ipswich’ tag will soon spread. Fifteen years in the Championship. Everything just feels monochrome and anodyne. As the short attention span younger generation describe their indifference ‘meh’.
The priority is always to stop. The risk versus reward balance is weighted all wrong. But it’s the Blues boss’ words, just as much as his actions, which rubs fans up the wrong way.
He said after Saturday’s game that he’d have always taken a point at Blackburn given his team’s ‘awful’ record at Ewood Park. Why did recent history matter? Rovers hadn’t kept a clean sheet all season, had key players missing and were there for the taking.
The phrase – “I hear people screaming ‘you should play 4-4-2 all the time’ – yeah, I know, good one. Maybe I’ll be the judge on what tactics I use” – was unprompted, ill-timed and unnecessary. It was more evidence of dismissiveness towards the supporters who pay their money and get zero entertainment value in return.
Tomorrow night’s home game against Burton being described as ‘huge’ shows just how far backwards things have gone since Town topped the table after a Boxing Day win at Brentford in 2014.
There may be some banners and boos, but it will be apathy rather than anger that tells the story. Empty seats always speak loudest.