The Verdict: Midfield positivity is what Ipswich Town fans have long been crying out for
Ipswich Town’s inconsistent, stuttering season is threatening to finally gather some positive momentum.
The highly-encouraging performance produced in the 2-2 home draw with Reading little more than a week ago was followed up by a gutsy 1-0 victory at Aston Villa on Saturday.
Not many people saw this coming. It was all doom and gloom less than a fortnight ago. Town’s seven low budget additions in the January transfer window had failed to capture the imagination. A comfortable 3-0 home defeat to Derby suddenly sparked talk of a possible relegation battle going into ‘Fearsome February’. Manager Mick McCarthy and skipper Luke Chambers spoke about their uncertain futures.
So what’s suddenly changed? New boys Emyr Huws and Toumani Diagouraga have been a breath of fresh air in midfield.
Leeds loanee Diagouraga is confident and assured. He has the picture in his head and always knows what he’s going to do with the ball before he gets it. Yes, he may be a deep-lying midfielder, but defensive he is not. His passes go forwards, not backwards or sideways.
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Huws, meanwhile, is a genuine box-to-box player full of zest. Blues fans had to do a double-take when he won a header then bust a gut to race forwards and finish off David McGoldrick’s low cross inside the six-yard box for the 83rd minute winner at Villa Park.
And with two livewire, technically-gifted forwards ahead of them in Tom Lawrence and McGoldrick, it’s forced Town to get the ball down and play.
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No-one is being smart after the event by screaming ‘why hasn’t McCarthy done this sooner?!’ It’s been clear for some time that a lack of goals and creativity in the middle of the park has been a problem.
Inevitably, Cole Skuse being sidelined since the 21st minute of the Reading game will be highlighted. For all his undoubted qualities, do the Blues have a better offensive balance without him in the team? It may well be too simplistic an argument, but it’s a valid debate nevertheless.
Huws and Diagouraga are only being borrowed, but don’t become too fixated with that.
Remember, Daryl Murphy and McGoldrick started out on loan. Town will definitely be looking to buy after a try.