Monday verdict: Newcastle was a free hit, but there can be no more excuses moving forwards
PUBLISHED: 06:00 24 October 2016
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Let’s just all cool our jets for a week.
The ‘Monday Verdict’ has been pretty scathing of Ipswich Town’s mundane 2016 in recent weeks, but it’s important to judge each match objectively rather than allowing the eyes to see what they had already decided they were going to see.
Saturday’s 3-0 loss at Championship table-toppers Newcastle United is not a result to use as oxygen to add to the flames of criticism that are rapidly growing around manager Mick McCarthy.
This match was always a free hit. That may sound defeatist and like more evidence of a lack of ambition at the club, but, being realistic, it’s true. This wasn’t a level playing field, more of a gruelling 30% incline for the visitors.
Forget ‘anyone can beat anyone in this division’. Yes, Fulham and Huddersfield beat Newcastle in the opening weeks, but the multi-million pound Magpies have found their Championship legs since then and, quite frankly, if they don’t breeze their way to the title it will be a shock.
The north east club have a former Champions League winning manager in Rafa Benitez, spent more than £50m on players this summer and have capacity crowds of 52,000. When Jonjo Shelvey, Matt Ritchie, Dwight Gayle and co build up a head of steam, as they did at the weekend, they are very hard to stop.
So, to address a couple of points I’ve seen raised over the last week...
‘The Burton victory (2-0 at home last Tuesday) papered over the cracks’
True, Burton had 18 attempts on goal and forced 12 corners, but the focus should be on the fact that McCarthy finally picked an attacking team for a game at Portman Road and backed his players to go toe-to-toe with so-called lesser opposition. It worked. Oh, and Burton subsequently beat Birmingham on Friday night.
‘The Newcastle game is more evidence of McCarthy being too negative’.
Wrong. If anything he was guilty of being not pragmatic enough at St James’ Park.
Kevin Bru has been very inconsistent this season, but it seemed a strange time to replace him with Conor Grant. With Cole Skuse injured, Town’s midfield lacked bite.
Leon Best, Freddie Sears, Tom Lawrence, Grant Ward and Conor Grant are all offence-minded players. Jonathan Douglas was the only player fully focused on protecting. Hardly parking the bus.
Let’s hope the bold team selections continue because Town now have four home games in the next six – Rotherham (h), Sheff W (a), Forest (h), QPR (h), Bristol (a), Cardiff (h).
Newcastle was a free hit, but there can be no more excuses going forwards – especially with David McGoldrick and Jonny Williams fit again.
– Analysis of Mick McCarthy’s 200 games in charge of Ipswich Town in today’s EADT and Ipswich Star.