Nottingham Forest 3 Ipswich Town 0 – Stu’s snap verdict
Ipswich Town’s disappointing season came to a close with a 3-0 defeat at Nottingham Forest this lunchtime. Here’s Blues reporter Stuart Watson’s snap verdict.
Town have ended the campaign with three successive defeats to finish 16th in the Championship. To put that into perspective, that’s the club’s lowest second-tier finish since 1959.
It’s not really been results and league position which has been the biggest disappointment for supporters this season though. There just hasn’t been enough excitement, or evidence of a plan slowly coming together, ahead of a 16th successive season in the Championship.
Mick McCarthy looks set to remain in charge, owner Marcus Evans is unlikely to really up his transfer funds and the usual pre-season will soon be upon us. It feels like Groundhog Day.
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Town fans, more than most, love seeing homegrown talent make the breakthrough. Young full-backs Myles Kenlock and Josh Emmanuel have enjoyed plenty of game time this season, but it’s clear they are on a steep learning curve.
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Kenlock has been outstanding since replacing the injured Jonas Knudsen at left-back, particularly in those Easter weekend wins against Burton and Newcastle, but he endured a torrid first half this afternoon.
He was beaten several times in the opening exchanges, switched off at the throw-in which led to the crucial opening spot-kick and was substituted at half-time.
Emmanuel replaced him at the break and gave away a penalty with a clumsy foul on Ward.
Kenlock gave away a penalty at Burton and Emmanuel gave one away at Rotherham too. Both are good going forwards, both have plenty of raw ability, but both are learning on the job.
Was it a penalty?
The first one, that is.
Ward’s foot is high, he gets the ball first, and then it’s just as much a case of him clattering into Bartosz Bialkowski as the latter clattering into Ward.
Town fans will think its soft, Forest fans will say it was nailed on.
As controversial as that big moment in the game was, Town should have dealt with the danger before then.
Mick McCarthy unfairly gets labelled a 4-4-2 manager. He’s tried every formation going this season and, if anything, has been guilty of tinkering too much of late.
He started with a 4-2-3-1 system, with Danny Rowe on the right (cutting in on his left foot), Grant Ward as the No.10 and Freddie Sears on the left.
Too many round pegs in square holes remains the criticism.
McCarthy switched to wing-backs soon after the restart with Rowe moving to left wing-back. It’s a position he can play, but won’t have helped him be at his best in these early stages of his Town career.
Town were overrun at that stage of the game and the formation changed once again.
Berra’s last game?
Christophe Berra offered a reminder of how good a defender he is, on his day, with a battling performance full of grappling, blocks and aerial duels.
McCarthy replaced him with the fit-again Adam Webster in the 81st minute.
It looked like a chance for the Scot – who is out of contract and keen to move back to his native Edinburgh – to say goodbye.
What a stalwart he has been over 286 appearances.
Striker top of the shopping list
Town never replaced Daryl Murphy. They’ve badly lacked a focal point to the attack. Reading loanee Dominic Samuel had little impact today, while Kieffer Moore hasn’t looked like the answer so far. It’s strange how Brett Pitman has dropped down the pecking order.