'It's a horrible situation panning out at Portman Road... I'm so upset' - Holland on Ipswich struggles
PUBLISHED: 17:32 22 October 2018 | UPDATED: 18:47 22 October 2018
Former Ipswich Town captain Matt Holland has questioned Paul Hurst’s recruitment strategy and decision-making while admitting he fears for the future of his former club.
Speaking on talkSPORT this afternoon the former Blues skipper, who played more than 300 games for the Blues between 1997 and 2003, stressed he is deeply saddened by the predicament his former club find themselves in at the bottom of the Championship.
Holland believes Paul Hurst’s summer recruitment, which saw him bring in a string of players with no Championship experience, is the root of the problem and questioned how easy it is for so many players to step up the football pyramid at the same time.
“It’s a horrible situation panning out at Portman Road at the moment, bottom of the table and not playing particularly well,” he said.
“Speaking to lots of friends and people who go to the games said it was the lowest they’ve felt watching it. A close friend of mine left at half-time, he said it was the worst he’s seen as an Ipswich Town supporter. It’s really worrying what’s happening at the club and there are lots of things wrong.
“I’ll start with the recruitment in the summer.
“I’m a Mick (McCarthy) fan but Ipswich fans had fallen out of love with him. That’s the truth and it was probably the right time to make a change.
“But the recruitment has not been good enough. Look at the players who have gone, Martyn Waghorn to Derby, Adam Webster to Bristol City, Joe Garner to Wigan and McGoldrick on a free transfer. That’s four quality players to lose and in have come players from League One and League Two. I’m not saying players from League One or Two can’t make the step up to the Championship but to ask eight or nine to do it at the same time is asking an awful lot of those players.
“Goals have been a problem and when you replace players like Waghorn and Garner and McGoldrick with players not as good as them, it’s a problem.
“There are players good enough in League One and League Two to step up but you need help to bed in. I did it from Bournemouth to Ipswich and it took me time to find my feet because the step up is big, so to ask eight or nine to do that at the same time is hard and unfair to ask that of them.”
Holland also questioned the decisions to drop World Cup stars Bartosz Bialkowski and Jonas Knudsen to the bench.
“Bartosz Bialkowski has been the best goalkeeper in the Championship and, while we all have bad spells, to leave him out seems like madness to me,” he said.
“At the weekend he played (Matthew) Pennington at right back, he’s a centre back and (Janoi) Donacien at left back when he’s a right back.
“Jonas Knudsen, while he may not have played particularly well, is an international player.”
He continued: “Fixtures coming up are Leeds away, Millwall, Preston and Reading and they are absolutely crucial to what’s going to happen this season.
“I have heard that Marcus Evans has spoken to other managers and there’s a possibility something might change, but I don’t know whether that will happen or not. That was a couple of weeks ago I heard that but that will be interesting to see.
“You also hear about what’s going on on the training ground and by all accounts perhaps man management has been lacking.
“You want to come in and you want to put your own stamp on it and do it your way. You can argue there was quite a bit wrong and you want to change things up a bit.
“They have had a hard pre-season, wanted to play high-pressing football on the front foot but it’s been so disappointing.
“I’m so upset because it’s a club so close to my heart and it’s tough right now.”