I can’t help but lament now that Ipswich’s very thin play-off hopes (well dream) is virtually impossible after the loss at Watford; where could Ipswich be if Paul Jewell would have sorted out the defence at the start of the season? This though is made worse especially when reading in the East Anglian Daily Times that Ipswich would have an extra 24 points if they’d been able to hold onto leads this season. The defensive frailties are very much apparent, even more so when you read annoying stats such as; six times Ipswich have lost from winning positions this season.
Constantly this season I have asked the question; why did Paul Jewell not buy defenders in the summer transfer market?
Having known since last January that centre back Gareth McAuley was going to leave the club it still goes beyond believe that at least one decent centre back (I’m not counting Ivar Ingimarsson in this) was not bought by the club, even in the January loan market! Add to this that a right back was not brought in to challenge Carlos Edwards, a winger moved to the full back position. Some of Jewell’s signings over the summer raised a few eyebrows, Nathan Ellington the one that definitely stands out, but concerning the centre back position, Ivar Ingimarsson really does come across as ridiculous! No doubt at his prime Ingimarsson was a very good and respected defender; having spent 8 years with Reading, playing every minute of their promotion winning season and first season in the Premier League. However in his last two seasons with Reading he only played 37 games due to injuries. A 33 year old injury prone player, who was released by Reading for a reason, was not who we needed to replace the very valuable player McAuley was.
This meant we Ipswich are really left with Damien Delaney and Tommy Smith, the latter who seems very much out of favour with Jewell. Personally I like Smith, he’s a young lad who came through our academy and who has everything that is needed to be a very good player at this level. Yes he was reckless at Peterborough earlier this season when he got sent off, but in that game did any of the players do anything right? He is young only 21 years old and is the future of the club also he’s a good tackler and he wins almost everything in the air. Let’s not forget that although he’s a left footer, he is playing on the right side of the partnership because Delaney the senior player, seemingly cannot. Don’t get me wrong I like Delaney he tries his best but, he makes too many silly mistakes, tackles off the ground too high up the pitch and constantly hoofs the ball up the pitch because he doesn’t dare control the ball at his feet. Smith needs a senior player who will help guide him through while he develops himself and his game, because he is a player that has the potential to be the defender that we need at Ipswich. And to mount a serious promotion contending side next season the centre back position needs to be sorted.
Concerning the full backs, Aaron Cresswell is looking to be a very promising young player; at least Jewell has made one good signing defensively. This season he has had 6 assists in the league, that’s the highest of any Ipswich player. Additionally Cresswell has had an impressive 14 shots on target, 17 off and 1 that’s hit the woodwork. That puts Carlos Edwards to shame, a converted winger who has had 3 assists, 6 shots on target and 11 off. I’ll give Edwards credit, he’s been converted to a position he’s probably not the most comfortable with, but his defensive play is suspect many times through a match, he is caught ball watching too often and leaves his marker in too much space. Yet this really isn’t the players fault, there should have been a natural full back brought in to push Edwards to fight for that position from the start of the season.
Jewell was stating the obvious in his post match Watford interviews when he said the reason Ipswich are where they are in the league is because they’ve conceded too many goals; 67 goals in 38 games to be precise If he’d have actually made the signings and the right ones at that, then we can only dream where Ipswich might be, rather than finishing mid table in yet another mediocre season.