Stuart Watson’s Sunday Verdict: Paul pleased with a point... But that’s where comparisons with a pragmatic predecessor end
PUBLISHED: 12:00 15 September 2019
© Copyright Stephen Waller
Ipswich Town extended their unbeaten start to the season with a goalless home draw against Doncaster Rovers at Portman Road yesterday. STUART WATSON gives his thoughts.
'If you can't win it, make sure you don't lose it'.
Now where have we heard that before?
Was yesterday's goalless home draw with Doncaster the birth of 'Pragmatic Paul'?
Next he'll be telling us that 'if you offered me a point now I wouldn't bother getting on the bus' ahead of trips to MK Dons (Tuesday) and Gillingham (Saturday).
Except he won't.
That was Mick McCarthy's mantra and modus operandi - regardless of whether it was Fulham away or Burton at home.
With Lambert, the pragmatism is very much with a lower case 'p'. It's reluctant, rather than rhetoric.
There were no wild celebrations from the Blues boss at the final whistle yesterday. Not even a subtle clenched fist. In fact, he seemed more than a little low key in his post-match press conference.
'Pretty pleased, but not overly pleased' was a very palatable summary.
This Ipswich squad is capable of much better. They must do better if they are to get promoted. He knows that. But on the days where it's just not happening for you, take the point and move on to the next one.
Still unbeaten, a third successive clean sheet in the league and back up to second with a game in hand. Doncaster (still unbeaten themselves) are a decent side. This was hardly a disaster.
That's not to say there shouldn't be a slight tinge of disappointment. Standards should be high.
'Every point's a prisoner'. That was another favourite of Mick's. And it's true. Each and every single notch on the board should be cherished because you don't know how much each one will truly mean until further down the line.
Yesterday's point is hopefully one closer to the 75+ tally needed to be in promotion contention. The problem before was that all that ugly kidnapping often felt like it was just to maintain the status quo.
This might have felt more like two points dropped had Lambert set up his side to contain. The 'keep it tight for the opening 20 minutes' mind set can often breath confidence into visiting sides when it dawns on them the respect they are being afforded.
But Lambert didn't lavish praise on Doncaster pre or post-match and refused to label them promotion contenders. In fact, any mention of the opposition is always met with 'it's about us, not them'.
That's not to say yesterday should just be readily dismissed as an 'off day'. Ipswich can't afford to get complacent.
There have been positives and negatives to take from pretty much every match so far. Both should be given equal attention.
The positives yesterday: Tomas Holy's two saves and assured all-round display, some solid defending in front of him and Cole Skuse continuing to use his head after having his jaw rattled. Despite a below-par team performance, Town nearly nicked this at the death.
The negatives: A 4-4-2 getting overpowered by a 4-2-3-1 in the middle of the park, a failure to adapt when it became clear going direct wasn't working and Alan Judge - once again - showing positional ill-discipline on the flanks.
If you're being hyper-critical, then James Norwood failing to take two one-on-one chances would also have to come under the spotlight.
'If you can't win it, make sure you don't lose it'. Ipswich Town now need to make sure, more often than not, that they can win it.
Two points from the next two games? No thanks.
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