Seven things we’ve learned from Town’s season so far
With Ipswich Town enjoying their first blank weekend of the season, Mark Heath takes a look at what we’ve learned from the campaign so far...
1) Town still can’t beat their promotion rivals
We start with an uncomfortable truth, sadly.
Just as last season, Town simply can’t seem to get a signature result over a fellow League One contender.
They may sit third in the table so far, but whenever they’ve faced a fellow promotion rival they’ve come unstuck – losing 4-1 at Doncaster, 1-0 at Lincoln, 2-1 at Sunderland and 3-2 at home to Portsmouth in the FA Cup.
One wonders if it’s become a mental block for Town now, because the squad is certainly good enough to compete. If they can scrape a result in one of these games – and they’ve got Hull and Charlton, both at home, coming up in short order – it could be lift-off. Hopefully.
2) Teddy Bishop is brilliant
We’ve known for years that Bishop is a wonderful talent. We also knew that he’s as fragile as Donald Trump’s ego.
Pleasingly though, this season’s version of Teddy seems more robust – and, frankly, he’s too good for League One.
Bishop’s ball control and dancing feet are mesmerising, and he gives Town a weapon that few other sides have in the division – that ability to craft something out of nothing, to change the game.
He’s scored four goals in 11 games, including that fabulous late winner against Gillingham. Long may Teddy version 2.0 continue.
3) Don’t write anyone off
I’m as guilty of this as any Town fan, writing before the season that the likes of Luke Chambers, Jon Nolan and Toto Nsiala all needed to step up to the plate for various reasons.
And they certainly have. Chambers has been a revelation at right back, once more playing out of position for the good of the team and looking incredibly assured doing it.
Nolan’s bagged four goals thus far and shown that he can be a force at this level while Nsiala, who looked certain to leave the club in the summer, has generally been a rock at the back – a couple of penalties aside, of course.
Aaron Drinan too, for so long loaned out and on the fringes, earned his chance and showed great promise up top, before injury struck.
4) League One referees are poor
I suppose it makes sense that, if you’re playing in the third tier of football, you get third tier referees.
It doesn’t make it any less frustrating though, when dodgy decisions go against you. Town have felt hard done by on multiple occasions already this season, and arguably been denied points as a result.
There was the penalty at Lincoln, the Andre Dozzell red card and laughable penalty at Sunderland, plus two obvious mistakes in the FA Cup defeat to Portsmouth – a clear penalty on Oli Hawkins, and the winning goal was offside.
Everyone makes errors, of course, and referees are only human – but one hopes Town start getting the rub of the green soon.
5) You need a plan B
Before this season, we were all saying Town needed a plan, an identity, a consistent approach.
Well, they certainly have one now – play out from the back, possession football, neat little triangles, 4-3-3.
Turns out, you need another plan for when teams have figured that one out – and they’ve definitely cottoned on to Town’s approach. Opponents are increasingly happy to let Town have the ball at the back, knowing they’ll probably give it away when they try to build through the thirds.
The Blues need to be able to mix it up when the situation calls for it.
6) Luke Chambers is loud
Having no fans in stadiums has meant that we’ve had more of an insight into the vocal – or otherwise – members of the team.
It’s no surprise that Chambers leads the way, with an incident at Sunderland easily being one of my highlights of the season so far.
After an early tussle with Black Cats attacker Denver Hume saw him accused of throwing an elbow into the face of his foe, Chambers infomed Hume that, had he done so, he’d be in the third row of the stands.
Unimpressed by the claim, Chambers went on to refer loudly to Hume as ‘concussion’ all night.
7) It’s promotion or bust
I guess we knew this before the season, to be fair – but it’s even more true now.
Town are out of all three knock-out competitions before the middle of November. Whatever you think of that, or the club’s approach to cup football, one thing is clear – there can be no excuses now.
Ipswich Town simply have to get out of League One this season, for a myriad of reasons.
For Paul Lambert, it’s now or never.
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