North Stander: The team and formation I think can turn Town’s stuttering season around

PUBLISHED: 12:09 06 January 2020 | UPDATED: 12:09 06 January 2020

Will Keane scored at Exeter - has he done enough to earn a starting spot? Picture: ROSS HALLS

Will Keane scored at Exeter - has he done enough to earn a starting spot? Picture: ROSS HALLS


It really doesn’t need Albert Einstein to work out why Ipswich Town’s season has slumped so alarmingly - the goals have dried up, writes North Stander Terry Hunt.

Toto Nsiala during Town's 2-1 defeat at Exeter City - Terry's not a fan! Photo: ROSS HALLSToto Nsiala during Town's 2-1 defeat at Exeter City - Terry's not a fan! Photo: ROSS HALLS

Just look at the stats. They're pretty miserable. In fact, the goal scoring malaise goes back even further than the 12-game winless run. In our last 16 matches, we have only twice managed to score more than one goal.

Over that period, we've averaged less than a goal a game. With those figures, no team is going to win many matches, and that's certainly been true of stuttering, stumbling Town.

Even more worrying is the fact that we're not creating many chances. It's not as though we're missing loads of golden opportunities. Our shots on target stats are absolutely shocking.

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It all smacks of a lack of creativity. So, what's the answer? Well, I hope the fact that we now only have the league to focus on can prove to be a blessing in disguise. It will surely mean Paul Lambert will stop chopping and changing and come up with a settled line-up and formation.

Players can build partnerships and understand how each other play. That should help build fluidity, creativity, and lead to us creating more chances.

Returning players will help. It's great to see Freddie Sears and Teddy Bishop back on the pitch. Bishop, in particular, can be an important player for us in the second half of the season.

I think he can be a great impact sub. Imagine the chaos he can cause, running at tiring, lumbering League One defences. He will create mayhem, either making chances or at least winning free-kicks and penalties. Of course, all of that is if, and it's a big if, given his record, he stays fit.

Kane Vincent-Young is another player we desperately need back. His attacking skills create so much for us, and we've missed him so much.

Teddy Bishop can have a huge impact for Town in the second half of the season Photo: ROSS HALLSTeddy Bishop can have a huge impact for Town in the second half of the season Photo: ROSS HALLS

I've got this dream that we turn out in a 4-4-2 formation time after time, with KVY, Chambers, Woolfenden and Garbutt at the back. James Wilson can be our standby centre-half. I really don't want to see the accident-prone Toto Nsiala playing a part in our promotion campaign. Much, much too risky.

I believe that back four will be pretty dependable, and both KVY and Garbutt will create chances going forward.

In midfield, we need more creativity. I think we can only play one of our defensive midfielders, Cole Skuse and Flynn Downes. The other three need to be attack-minded, to support the front two.

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And who should play up front? Will Keane is making a strong case to start league games, but I would stick with Norwood and Jackson for a while longer, assuming the supply to them is a whole lot more productive.

Apart from what's been happening on the pitch, the big talking point of the week was the new five-year contract given to Paul Lambert. I'm all for stability, but honestly...the timing of the announcement was utterly atrocious.

It came just as the fans are starting to question Lambert's ability to take us back to the Championship. Hardly surprising, given our dreadful run. Why was it announced when it was?

And what were Lambert's post-match comments on Boxing Day all about? He obviously knew his new long-term deal was in the offing, so why did he say those bizarre and mystifying things? Strange, strange, strange.

Five years is a very long time in football. Of the 91 Premier League and Football League managers, do you know how many have been in post for more than five years? A grand total of four. Gareth Ainsworth at Wycombe is the longest-serving, with seven years.

So, the odds would strongly suggest that Lambert won't last five years, and at some time between now and 2025 he will be leaving Portman Road with a handsome pay-off.

So why did Marcus Evans give him five years? Another two years would have given stability, and would have been fair enough. Strange things happen at our football club.

Some people have compared this decision to John Cobbold awarding a young, struggling Bobby Robson a new contract in 1971, the day after the Portman Road crowd had called for his head as a George Best-inspired Manchester United hammered Town in the League Cup.

I've always said "Mr. John's" decision was an example to all trigger-happy owners, but there really are so many differences between now and then. Within a year or so, Robson was able to field a team including Mills, Hunter, Beattie, Burley, Viljoen, Whymark. Different times.

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Anyway, given that Lambert looks like being around for quite a while, I would like to make a plea to him and his assistant manager Stuart Taylor. Please, please change the record after games.

I'm sick and tired of them saying the same things after yet another disappointing game. "We played really well." "We were the better team." "I was really pleased with them." Taylor did it again after we lost to Exeter's reserves. Do us a favour, chaps - don't insult our intelligence.

Let's hope for better things ahead, starting against Accrington next Saturday.

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