Stuart Watson’s Sunday Verdict: Why Ipswich Town are just like Indiana Jones
- Credit: Picture: Steve Waller
There’s an iconic scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark where Indiana Jones watches his adversary display an array of fancy sword skills before giving him a withering look, whipping out his gun and shooting him dead.
Ruthless Ipswich Town are the Hollywood hero in that analogy at present, making a mockery of the possession obsession.
Reading were the latest team to come to Portman Road, enjoy the lion’s share of the ball – 72% – only to leave with their tails between their legs, as Town ran out 2-0 winners.
Nottingham Forest had 71% of the ball and lost 4-2, Preston had 64% of the ball and lost 3-0, Sheffield Wednesday had 68% of the ball and were fortunate to escape with a 2-2 draw, while Brentford had 65% of the ball and lost 2-0.
Only struggling Sunderland and Bolton have produced less shots on goal per game than Ipswich (10.6), but only league-leaders Wolves have scored more than their 37. Talk about clinical.
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It’s a reminder that only one stat matters – who puts the ball in the net the most.
Direct football can be painfully dull and predictable to watch when executed poorly, as Town fans can testify from the not so distant past. Watching a team pass it sideways across the back four can be equally as boring and ineffectual though.
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There can be a lot of snobbery about style of play, but ultimately it’s about playing to your strengths and doing what you do well.
Town – up to eighth and just two points adrift of the play-off places with almost half the season gone – are certainly doing that right now.
Martyn Waghorn presses from the front, Joe Garner roughs up centre-backs, Bersant Celina provides some trickery, while Callum Connolly has been a revelation in midfield.
Bravo Mr McCarthy. With a clutch of bargain buys he has transformed a stale, one-paced team into one that maintains a sense of anticipation through a mixture of dynamism, fluidity and aggressive edge. Summer signings have now provided 26 of the 37 goals scored.
At last, the long trip to Suffolk holds a sense of trepidation for Championship opposition again. Not because the walls of Portman Road have been fortified, but because of the significantly upgraded troops and firepower in residence.
TOWN’S HOME FORM COMPARISON
2017/18: P11 W7 D1 L3 F22 A11 (currently 8th)
2016/17: P23 W8 D10 L5 F30 A24 (Finished 16th)
2015/16: P23 W9 D8 L6 F28 A24 (Finished 7th)
2014/15: P23 W15 D5 L3 F40 A18 (Finished 6th)