Style, possible exits and impacting potential arrivals - the ripple effects of Norwood’s move to Town
- Credit: Archant
Ipswich Tow have signed James Norwood from Tranmere to lead the line next season. ANDY WARREN looks at the ripple effects his arrival could have.
Norwood's success at Tranmere came with the 28-year-old as his team's focal point.
Rovers used a handful of formations during the course of last season, but all of them were based around maximising Norwood's ability and creating as many chances as possible for him.
The most common set-up was a 4-2-3-1, though, with two holding midfielders and a trio of creative players buzzing away behind central striker Norwood.
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Ipswich also used a number of different formations under Paul Lambert, the most common being a 4-3-3 with one central striker, two wide players and the aim of getting support from midfield.
Norwood could comfortably play as the central striker in this system, but would he have enough support given a third of his 32 goals last season saw him played in behind the opposition defence by attacking midfielders?
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We're perhaps guilty of putting too much emphasis on the 'numerical' side of formations and not enough on their fluidity and individual players' responsibilities within them, so as long as the midfield get forward to support the forwards then this system should suit Norwood perfectly well.
However, deploying the same formation Tranmere used last season would create an opening for Alan Judge to play in his favoured, central, role rather than drifting around on the left wing.
The prospect of Norwood and Judge linking up is mouth-watering.
There was an overhaul of Ipswich Town's striking department last summer, with Martyn Waghorn, Joe Garner and David McGoldrick all moving on as the trio's combined 32 league goals followed Mick McCarthy out of Portman Road.
In their place arrived Ellis Harrison and Kayden Jackson, with both players reaching the Championship after impressing lower down the pyramid and finding the going tough.
So what now for the duo?
Harrison, the scorer of just one goal in an injury-hit season, has been linked with Portsmouth once again this summer, with Kenny Jackett remaining a long-term admirer.
The Welshman showed promise when on the field last season but wasn't able to perform consistently enough, firstly due to an ankle ligament problem and then back issues.
Norwood figures to start the campaign as first choice meaning, if one central striker is deployed, Harrison will face a fight for his place.
If two strikers are played, his ability to bring others into play and hold onto the ball in the final third could make him a decent partner for the newest Ipswich forward.
Jackson's case is a different one. He too found regular gametime difficult to come by and, when he was selected, often found himself frustratingly isolated in a lone forward role simply not suited to his ability.
His game is about pace and getting in behind, so there's a sense he and Norwood would not be a natural pairing in attack.
Should he become available there is likely to be real interest in a player who scored 16 goals for Accrington in 2017/18. Peterborough, who tried to sign him last summer and again on loan in January, would likely be near the front of that queue.
Don't discount a departure for one or even both of last summer's arrivals before this window's out.
If either Jackson or Harrison were to depart, you would expect the Blues to add to their striking ranks again.
Will Keane is a player Lambert likes, following a productive loan spell during the second half of last season, although his hamstring injuries during the final weeks of the campaign have certainly complicated things.
He's a free agent after leaving Hull and there have been discussions between player and club already this summer, but no deal done. Keane got married earlier this summer, so has had other things on his mind, but a full-time move to Suffolk is a prospect understood to be of interest.
The former Manchester United youngster would add a different dimension to the Ipswich forward line and would be the perfect partner for Norwood, so could there be a deal to be done?
Conor Washington, the Northern Ireland international released by Sheffield United at the end of last season, is another to have been linked.
He can play anywhere across the front three and impressed for his country recently.
"To any manager listening out there, I'm a free transfer," Washington said after helping his country beat Estonia.
"It was nice to get back playing and hopefully I've changed my destiny. No offers have come in yet, nothing concrete anyway. There are few whispers here and there but hopefully performances like that will give me a good chance of finding a new club.
"It was great to be part of a team that got promoted (Sheffield United) but I didn't play as much as I'd have liked, so I'm looking to change that for next season."
The Blues are currently second favourites to win promotion next season, behind beaten play-off finalists Sunderland.
But it's fair to say the acquisition of Norwood is the most eye-catching third-tier transfer of the summer so far.
Those of an Ipswich persuasion know the risks when it comes to recruiting players who are stepping up a level, but it does feel like something of a statement signing.
Lambert has addressed his team's biggest weakness early in the summer transfer window, with the arrival of Norwood perhaps raising expectations of an instant return to the Championship.
The Ipswich players know they will have a target on their back, given they are one of the biggest clubs in the division.
How they handle that and whether Norwood makes the grade will surely be key if they are to achieve their goal at the first attempt.