‘I’m sorry, but it’s Lambert’s fault’...
- Credit: PA
Your posts: Ipswich Town fan DAVID FLISHER has strong views on the state of Ipswich Town. He airs them here on, your posts.... We welcome your posts.
Last time I was moved to write something on the state of things at Portman Road was in the aftermath of McCarthy's departure and the vitriolic ranting from (largely) outsiders telling us we were ungrateful wretches for being anything other than prostrate in gratitude for the last two years of self-flagellating anti-football!
Since then, I've hoped, dreamed, analysed, hoped, despaired and ranted.
I've gone 'sweary Dave' with Ross Halls for #Gameday, travelled to Accrington at stupid o'clock, got home from Lincoln despite the A14's best efforts, and annoyed a lot of Peterborough fans.
And so from my ditch of despair, I turn to words once more...
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...I can't recall when I questioned Lambert first, it was fairly early this season and lots of people thought I was precipitate; nothing I've seen since has changed my mind, I think he's tactically poor and doesn't have the capability of getting the best from a good squad.... My opinion.
I really don't care about the ludicrous contract extension, practicalities like that are for the people who handed it out. Nor will I shrug and go, 'ah well, he's here for another four years I'll just get on with it'.
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There needs to be criticism, however much we are vociferous supporters on matchday.
I'll not mention McCarthy's dying days, nor Hurst's masterclass in how not to manage people. This is Lambert focussed.
The 'how we got here' is less important than the 'where we are now' and why we're going nowhere soon in my opinion.
Last season there seemed to be a plan. 4-2-3-1. Play from the back, centre backs splitting deep.
It didn't work, Bart often appeared uncomfortable with the ball at his feet, chaotic recruitment, loans. But, there was seemingly, under the spiral of chaos, inability to defend a cross and stilted midfield, actually a plan.
There was a path through the swamp. Hope for the future.
Norwood thrived at the head of a 4-2-3-1 at Tranmere, the focal point of a team. Logic showing, but that formation has vanished. We've had almost every imaginable formation this season, but not that. Vanished, along with centre backs collecting the ball from deep, overlapping centre backs come and go. 4-3-3 appears for a game, confusing the strikers, and vanishes.
Rotation comes, seems vital, goes and whoever was incumbent kept their place.
Edwards, potent as a left winger for Peterborough, in my opinion costs goals and yellow cards at right back - while Donacien, a right back who really isn't bad, can't even get on the bench.
Cotter appears, vanishes. Garbutt creates well wide left, so he's shunted to left back.
... When things are going badly, our managers seem to reach for three/five at the back. Jewell did it. McCarthy did it. It works, briefly.
Then better teams push up on the wing backs and there's no width, more limited teams sit deep and there's no way through. Lambert seems to be doing the same.
Was five at the back necessary against Oxford or Wimbledon?
Why do we end up with so many players out of position?
I don't like five at the back (even if it's allegedly three with attacking wing backs), I don't like 4-2-3-1 either, because, at our level, the three always drop deep and become a flat five, leaving the striker isolated far up front.
Murphy's goals dried up when he was up front alone, Sears was lost drifting wide to provide chances for his non-existent strike partner.
Hurst's strikers were so distant it's a wonder they even knew their team-mates.
It is however a plan...
... You look at other teams this season, Coventry, Peterborough, Rotherham say, and there's an identity, a way of playing, knowledge between the players about where to be, how each other will move, where a ball will be passed. We have none of that.
We'll play safely across the back and deep midfield (dominating possession), then a centre back will launch it forward.
We'll get the ball wide, we'll pause long enough to let the opposition regroup, then cut it back or it'll go out for a throw.
We'll 'dominate possession' have a couple of half-chances, concede to a stupid goal where someone's out of position - look at Lincoln, Wycombe, Oxford - and then we'll spend half an hour looking for something - anything - to happen, when we hopefully launch balls up to the towering Jackson... Or Judge.
Under McCarthy, my biggest problem wasn't pragmatism, it was the lack of chances created. Doesn't matter who you have up front if there's no chances created. How often do you genuinely think we're on the verge of scoring, that it's a matter of time? It's hope, not expectation.
Huws comes in. Out. Skuse appears. Nolan. A cameo from Bishop. Huws again. Skuse. Edwards sits at right back. Judge wanders across the attacking positions. Youngsters, McGavin, Dobra, El Mizouni shine, and vanish. Sears appears on the stroke of 90 to receive killer balls from winger Bishop... Oh please!
From Lambert - and this is just my opinion - it's the lack of tactical nous that concerns me.
His inability to change a game, to make a telling substitution before the 85th minute.
That, after all this time, we're no more a team than when he arrived, just with worse teams around us to beat occasionally.
We have a lack of speed. Not of legs, but of thought.
We appear ponderous, allowing the opposition to regroup every time. When does a wide player put a quick ball in? When does a central midfielder thread that ball through and suddenly, beautifully, the defence is wide open?
When does that insight render defence into attack and there are options galore?
Can you actually imagine us scoring the goal Oxford scored against us? I can't.
... So, why, when the midfield lacks guile and insight, is Dozzell sat unused?
Why, when you want something unexpected, a run, an opening pass, does Bishop languish out of position?
Why, when youth make an impression and we lack the bravery to take people on, do Dobra and El Mizouni get frozen out?
If this was actually, as Lambert keeps saying, 'a young side', I could accept mistakes more readily, could accept this was a 'long-term plan', could see setbacks as part of it while we forge an identity. But it's not a young side.
I've criticised Dozzell, mainly for hoping things would come to him rather than making things happen.
That's why Downes nailed his place down, he seized it. Dozzell against Accrington was poor, but in the madness of rotation, there were signs he was getting into games, that he was hunting balls down, doing that 'dirty stuff' McCarthy used to talk about.
Yet he's in and out. Could he have opened an Oxford defence up? Who knows, but I believe he would have done a better job than the huff and puff of others.
I could make the same argument across the field, players misused, poor substitutions, lack of alternative ideas, slowness when obvious options exist within the club.
The problem isn't with recruitment, it's not a need for another striker, or a left back. It's players out of position.
It's poor management of a good Ipswich squad, it's bad tactics, it's lack of flexibility, it's the same thing repeated again and again and again.
I'm sorry, but it's Lambert's fault.
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