Stuart says: Six observations from Ipswich Town’s 2-0 home win against Brentford
- Credit: Picture: Steve Waller
Ipswich Town’s perfect start to the season continued with a 2-0 home win over Brentford. STUART WATSON highlights a few key talking points.
The main criticism of Mick McCarthy last season was that he was too cautious with his team selections. More often than not he would play two ‘holding midfielders’ – usually the unpopular pairing of Cole Skuse and Jonathan Douglas – and name at least three centre-halves in his back four with Luke Chambers at right-back.
So many times he would change his formation to match up the opposition. The emphasis was always on staying in games for as long as possible, rather then really stamping their authority from the start. It led to too many passive, scrappy, dull, forgettable affairs. The Portman Road punters felt short-changed and a 2,000 drop-off in season ticket sales this summer reflected that.
All anyone wanted was a bit more excitement and bang for their buck. They’re certainly getting that and Mick must take the plaudits.
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No-one could have envisaged that the Blues would be lining up with four strikers from the start at this stage of the new season, as well as an attacking midfielder in the deeper midfield role.
Necessity is the mother of invention and Mick’s options have been limited by a lengthy injury list, but nevertheless he still could have gone for a safer system today. With no fit senior centre-halves he could have shifted back to wing-backs. Instead he stuck with the gung-ho 4-2-3-1 formation that saw them beat Millwall in a seven-goal thriller on Tuesday night.
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Freddie Sears was on the left, Martyn Waghorn was on the right, with David McGoldrick in support of Joe Garner. Grant Ward partnered Cole Skuse in midfield.
FORTUNE FAVOURS THE BRAVE
Town have suffered some really bad luck when it comes to injury and illness (there was still nine players unavailable today), but on the field they’ve certainly ridden their luck at times.
Birmingham were the better team in a goalless first half at Portman Road on the opening weekend, Barnsley should have been further than 1-0 in front come the break at Oakwell, Millwall’s physical approach caused Town all manner of problems, while Brentford certainly dominated the opening period this afternoon.
The bright Bees had most of the ball, produced good movement and carved open numerous chances. Bartosz Bialkowski made a couple of smart stops, while Nico Yennaris thumped the bar. Town’s opener came against the run of play and had a touch of good fortune with the way the ball span out of a tackle and into the path of Waghorn.
Goalline technology was required to ascertain that Garner’s header had crossed the line six minutes after the restart and, after that, Town looked organised, disciplined and saw out the win fairly comfortably.
They do say that fortune favours the brave.
The statistics show that Ipswich have produced 12 shots on target across their four league games and scored nine of them – that’s a 75% success rate. Football is all about confidence and Town’s front players have bags of that right now.
Strikers’ careers at a club can be made or broken within the first few weeks. Fail to score and the pressure grows and reputations suffer. Get off the mark early and they can become instant heroes. Waghorn (4 in 3) and Garner (3 in 4) have certainly done that.
With David McGoldrick having also netted three times, that’s 10 goals from Town strikers just two weeks into the season.
PATCHED UP DEFENCE
With skipper Luke Chambers having joined Adam Webster and Tommy Smith on the sidelines, McCarthy was forced to name a back four entirely of full-backs – Jordan Spence and Jonas Knudsen in the middle.
Knudsen – nicknamed ‘Mad Dog’ by team-mates for his competitive approach – has said he loves defending and would be more than happy to move inside. The Dane was superb in an alien role. You can make an argument his no-nonsense approach is better suited to that role.
Spence was pretty assured too – he chested long balls down calmly and strode out the back on occasions. Myles Kenlock grew into the game at left-back and was named sponsors’ man-of-the-match, while Dominic Iorfa made some powerful runs down the right.
McCarthy will still be looking for defensive reinforcements though.
Forget all of the above, the history books will show that Town started the 2017/18 season with five straight win in all competitions. The last time they did that was the promotion campaign of 1999/00. The last time they won their opening four league games was back in 1974/75. Think about that for a moment.
Next up is a Carabao Cup trip to Premier League side Crystal Palace on Tuesday, followed by the league visit of Fulham next Saturday.
MIND THE GAP
It’s been a while since Ipswich Town fans have had any sort of East Anglian bragging rights, so let’s enjoy this moment. Norwich City lost 4-2 to Aston Villa today, with Daniel Farke’s men now eight points behind the Blues.