North Stander: Give Garbutt penalty duty, even when Norwood’s back
© Copyright Stephen Waller
In his latest column, North Stander Terry Hunt discusses the thrilling Blackpool draw, Paul Lambert’s rotation policy, and a new full-time role for Luke Garbutt.
Well, that was fun. A thoroughly entertaining game, packed with drama - it was just a pity we couldn't grab the late winner which our dominance deserved.
But I'll take those thrills and spills every day of the week. Goals, controversy, flying saves, goal-line clearances, and a fantastic atmosphere generated by another near 20,000 crowd. Just what we go to football for, in fact.
Compare that to those awful, tedious, mind-numbing matches under Mick McCarthy. I know we're operating at a lower level, but Paul Lambert has certainly brought a hugely refreshing attacking attitude.
Despite dropping points against Blackpool, the league table still looks very encouraging, and we're now all set for the biggest game of the season, on Tuesday at Portman Road against leaders Wycombe Wanderers.
To be brutally honest, it still takes a bit of getting used to - treating Wycombe as "big" visitors - but that's where we are right now!
Of course, the build-up to the Blackpool game was marked by Lambert's rather spiky response to the people who were questioning his rotation policy.
I'm one of those critics who doesn't agree with the wholesale changes for cup games. That, plus the international breaks, has meant a real stop-start feel to the league season, which I don't believe has been helpful to our promotion push.
But Lambert is the manager, and a vastly experienced one at that. He will do what he feels is right for his players, and he will be judged on the results he gets.
What I've never understood is why football managers are so sensitive to criticism. It's not just Lambert. Just about every Ipswich manager during my journalism career reacted badly to criticism.
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Surely they understand how it works? They operate in the public spotlight, with their every decision scrutinised by tens of thousands of fans, with all of those having an opinion.
The managers are extremely well rewarded in terms of salary, and being questioned and challenged is part and parcel of the job. They are answerable to the supporters, ultimately.
Anyway, as I've said many, many times, Lambert is doing a great job at Ipswich, both on and off the pitch. He has reinvigorated the club, and has got the all-important fans back on-side. Great stuff. But I still don't like the rotation policy...
Two more observations from the Blackpool game. When Janoi Donacien last appeared in a league game, he looked simply dreadful. He was a bag of nerves, and was deservedly dropped when Kane Vincent-Young arrived.
He fell further down the pecking order when Gwion Edwards - hardly a natural defender - was picked ahead of him. But, to his eternal credit, Donacien worked his way back in the cup games, and against Blackpool he produced probably his best performance in a Town shirt.
He was rock-solid defensively, and looked threatening coming forward. There was even a Fabian Wilnis-style cheeky nutmeg to get him to the by-line for a dangerous cross. Well played, Janoi. Good to see.
The other point is about penalty duties. James Norwood hasn't looked entirely convincing when it come to spot-kicks. On Saturday, Luke Garbutt stepped up and dispatched the penalty with huge confidence. There never looked to be the slightest chance of him missing. So, for me, it should be Garbutt's job from now on, even when Norwood is back in the side.
Staying with Garbutt, I really hope we're at the front of the queue when his contract at Everton ends. He has the kind of quality we'll need when - hopefully - we're back in the Championship next season.
Earlier, I mentioned the atmosphere at Portman Road against Blackpool. It really was electric, helped by the fact that nearly 20,000 people were there. Again, I can't help thinking back to those dreadful McCarthy games, when the atmosphere was at best funereal, and often toxic. That's the impact Paul Lambert has had.
So now, we look forward to Wycombe coming to Portman Road, under the lights on Tuesday evening. Let's hope for a game which is just as entertaining and exciting as the Blackpool thriller - but with the right result this time. A 93rd minute winner in front of the Sir Bobby Stand will do nicely.
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