Monday verdict: Preaching patience won’t be popular, but Ipswich Town are work in progress
Stick with it.
I’m fully aware that will be an opening statement which rankles with Ipswich Town fans. Indeed, it will cause many of you to spit your drink out in disbelief.
Blues fans feel like they’ve ‘stuck with it’ long enough by now. And, just a week into the club’s 15th successive season in the Championship, it feels like things are going nowhere fast.
The much-needed injection of positivity supplied by Grant Ward’s debut hat-trick in the opening day 4-2 home win over Barnsley was quickly undone by an all-too-familiar early League Cup defeat to lower level opposition in the form of Stevenage.
Saturday’s 2-0 loss at Brentford followed. And the main theme of the game only contributed to the Groundhog Day feel.
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The two goals conceded both came from corner kicks. Set-pieces, both from an attacking and defensive point of view, used to be such a strong suit under Mick McCarthy’s management. In more recent times it’s developed into something of an Achilles’ heel.
The way the Blues seemed to ‘unravel’ after that, McCarthy’s word, was out of character and undoubtedly disappointing.
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And yet, if you really analyse the opening three performances, there are plenty of positives to take. Town played well in the first half at Griffin Park. They got into some really good positions against Stevenage too. The second half against Barnsley was obviously impressive.
Just as all in the garden was not rosy after that opening win, everything is not broken after two defeats. This is a young Town team trying to build a new identity. And it’s very much a work in progress.
New boys Conor Grant and Grant Ward have shown they’ve both got creative attributes that will improve the Blues’ attacking game. They both had limited pre-seasons and will get better over the weeks ahead.
Freddie Sears needs time to readjust to a striker’s role after spending so long on the flanks, while centre-back Adam Webster will take a few games to bed in at this level.
Town hit a glass ceiling and, to be fair to McCarthy, he’s looked to reinvent his team when self-preservation would have been the easier route to take.
Ahead of games against Wolves (away tomorrow) and bitter rivals Norwich (home on Sunday), a preach for patience may not be popular. It may just take a small backwards step in order to eventually go forwards though.
Don’t forget, an East Anglian derby defeat at Portman Road in August 2014 led to doom and gloom. Then a team emerged from the ashes of that loss to secure a sixth-place finish.