Stuart Watson’s Sunday Verdict: More questions than answers – and now two big home games for Ipswich Town to address them
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Ipswich Town are bottom of the Championship table and out of the Carabao Cup following an eight-game winless start to the season. STUART WATSON gives his verdict following yesterday’s 2-0 defeat at fellow strugglers Hull City.
This week is massive.
Back-to-back home games against Brentford (Tuesday night) and Bolton (Saturday) that will go a long way to setting the mood.
The opening six weeks of the new era have provided a whole load more questions than answers.
Has too much been changed too soon (and could that really have been avoided given players wanted to leave)? Is this new-look squad good enough? Is Paul Hurst good enough? Could this gamble backfire spectacularly? Is this proof that the underlying problem is the level of investment from owner Marcus Evans?
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Is dropping into the third-tier, for the first time in more than 60 years, a very real possibility?
I’m not kidding myself, I know that’s what people are thinking – and it’s only natural. How loud those doubts are differs for each individual.
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Let’s not be revisionist about this though. Even the most ardent of Mick McCarthy supporters reluctantly accepted that change was needed in the summer. Things had got stagnant, predictable and too much had been said that couldn’t be taken back. What’s happening now, and what happens over the coming months, doesn’t change that.
Back to the current day. For me, those whispers of doubt – for the first time – intensified just a little on Saturday.
There genuinely had been plenty of positives to extrapolate from the opening seven matches of the campaign, despite a lack of victories.
Improve on the set-piece frailties and add a clinical edge to some neat attacking play and those fine margin draws and defeats would soon become wins. Performances were, on the whole, pretty good considering the gelling process going on.
There were no positives to take away from the KCOM Stadium though. The distractions of the transfer window were gone, Hurst and his staff had a fortnight to work with the players and they produced their worst display yet. Defensively shoddy, little created in the final third and far from easy on the eye between the boxes. In truth, this could have been a game from any stage in the last two years.
Ipswich Town now have to go out and prove to their fans that this was simply a bad day at the office. And supporters need to show, as they did when creating such a superb atmosphere for the East Anglian derby, that their goodwill has not evaporated in the space of a few weeks.
There are, it’s important to remember, still 39 games to play. A couple of good results quickly changes the whole picture.
The longer the wait for this first win goes though, the bigger a mental block it becomes for the players and the more every decision Hurst makes gets put under the spotlight.
Why have Janoi Donacien miss out as the sixth loanee only to have Trevoh Chalobah and Tayo Edun as unused subs? Why did Flynn Downes suddenly jump above the former two in the pecking order? Why did Jon Walters get asked to lead the line on his own after playing so well as a deep-lying forward? How can this new-look team build relationships on the field when there are so many changes every week?
As I say, lots more questions than answers at the moment. And now two big games, on home turf (where Town are unbeaten), to try and answer a few of them.