Stuart Watson’s Sunday Verdict: I’m in love with the shape of you... Looking good in a 3-5-2
- Credit: Picture: Steve Waller
Ipswich Town remain top of the League One table following yesterday’s 4-1 home win against Tranmere Rovers. STUART WATSON takes a look at the bigger picture.
I'm in love with the shape of you.
Looking good in a 3-5-2.
If not we'll just push up Skuse.
I'm in love with K-VY...
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Suffolk boy Ed Sheeran - the man with red hair and a blue heart - was, once again, in attendance at Portman Road yesterday. It seems fitting to adapt one of his hits into a Portman Road chorus.
- 1 Town's Harper move held up by West Brom uncertainty
- 2 Councils to be given powers to fine drivers £70
- 3 A12 underpass closed after car stuck in water
- 4 Village in uproar as primary school attempts to change historic logo
- 5 Suffolk school goes viral after teachers post TikTok dance
- 6 ‘Exceptional’ country estate with its own airfield hits the market
- 7 Woman in master/slave relationship was asked to supply indecent images
- 8 Citroën driver taken to hospital after car comes off road
- 9 A12 clear after two-car crash at Farnham
- 10 Historic Walberswick Bell Inn closes for one week
Plus, multiply, divide - whatever sums you want to do, the maths are looking good for Ipswich Town.
First in the League One table, 10 games unbeaten. Won seven, drawn three. Scored 20, conceded five. One manager of the month award, one PFA Player of the Month award, one foot in the knockout rounds of the EFL Trophy.
Next up is the long trip to high-flying Fleetwood. Paul Lambert versus Joey Barton on the touchlines. The chance to open a seven-point gap to the play-off places with a quarter of the campaign played... Even Marcus Evans is taking selfies with fans these days.
Getting a little carried away? You bet. We've waited a long time for a moment like this.
Yes, I know, top of the table clashes used to come at Highbury in North London, not North Lancashire. Frankly, I don't care.
I wasn't around for those halcyon days. And there are a generation of fans younger than me who don't even remember the Premier League. So being top of the table, no matter the level, is something to be unashamedly celebrated and enjoyed.
There will be some that say Ipswich are winning games based purely on having the best players in the division and that success is somehow happening in spite of Paul Lambert, not because of him.
The same pessimistic people will be telling anyone who listens that third-tier success is not something to be proud of for a club of this size and that these performances, yet to come together for a full 90 minutes, are nowhere near good enough for the Championship.
To those people I say stop being so masochistic and miserable. Enjoy the here and now. Otherwise what's the point?
I'd also remind them that Lambert is the man who, having put pressure on Evans, brought in Kane Vincent-Young, Luke Garbutt, Tomas Holy, James Norwood and James Wilson to name but five. A hell of a lot of thought went into that recruitment.
Each player's suitability was assessed on far more than just quality. Chemistry, balance, versatility and character all came into consideration. What they'd each bring to the dressing room, as well as to the field, was deemed vitally important.
We love Holy's humbleness as much as his saves. We love Norwood's personality as much as his goals. You get the point.
It's a reminder that the phrase 'good pros' doesn't have to damn with faint praise.
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Have you ever watched University Challenge and tried to play along at home? 'Your starter for 10...' is a phrase that leaves me smiling ruefully in the utter knowledge I'm about to be reminded just how uneducated I really am.
Town, like me, pulled just one or two answers out the bag during last season's embarrassment. They were out of their depth.
The thing is, they're not playing University Challenge anymore. They've been demoted to The Chase or Tipping Point. And there's nothing wrong with that. Entertainment comes in all shapes and forms. Winning is winning. Pour yourself a brew and enjoy.
Actually, Who Wants To Be A Millionaire is perhaps a better quiz analogy. Some of the early questions are virtual gimmes. If you are pretty competent then you've got a great shot at making £32k. Beyond that it's as much about luck as knowledge.
Town, with all their lifelines intact, are undoubtedly in a good position to launch an assault on the big prize. Let's hope the questions keep falling nicely.
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'This will turn... and when it does it will be a great ride'.
Those were Lambert's words less than a month into the job. Forget 'PR Paul', it's more a case of 'prophetic Paul'.
Deep down he probably knew that the 'turn' would come a step down the pyramid. He might not have admitted it publicly, but preparations for League One started long before it was mathematically confirmed.
The easy, most selfish option would have been to try and scrap a way to safety and land himself a tidy bonus. Instead, he decided to really get to the root of the club's slow and steady decline and start work on some long-term fixes - both on and off the field.
That took some serious cohones given the volatile nature of his job.
The true success of this turnaround isn't really the results. It's not really even about the performances (the best thing about this start is that it still feels like the best is to come). It's about the reconnection with the fan base.
The club is getting an identity again. Small things make a difference. You might not have noticed, but the nets are now blue and white.
Call it cheesy, call it manufactured, call it whatever you like. It's fun, it's attracting a new generation of supporters and it's got the wider football world paying attention to a grand old club again.