Not so long ago players were running down contracts and leaving for nothing. We seemed desperate to sign has beens and pay big sums both in fees and wages with "managers" bemoaning the troublesome location. Mick has turned all this around. Business is done quietly, the loan market is used judiciously and our best players are almost all tied to longer term contracts. Hope this serves as a lesson to Mr Evans and the club as a whole as to the importance of the right management team. This represents our best chance in a decade to have success and a longer term plan.
I have been critical of him in the past but he worked his nuts off today and quite possibly has earned himself a new deal. He is a player that Mick will like for his industry alone. A deal for Ando might limit Tabby's chances though depending on the progress of one or two youngsters, signings and the mysterious Cameron Stewart.
Need to give Tyrone some credit. Yep, bit of a sloppy pass for first goal but he actually recovered from that and made a positive tackle which unfortunately richocheted to a Budgie and we were in trouble. He can g sometimes lose his shape but he is very much learning the game and if we can keep hold of him he will be even better for the 40 odd games he has played this season. Cut the boy some slack.
Don't often comment on events at other clubs but if it's true that Sterling is likely to leave Liverpool after rejecting contract offers of reportedly 100K per week, it shows just how bloody out of touch with reality young 'stars' are becoming. He may end up on the bench at one of the European 'giants' seeing his career stall. Money really is the be all and end all for these players it seems.
and gone out fielding a somewhat weakened team? Seems like all the hulabaloo around those two games might just have impacted negatively on our league form. Don't get me wrong, I love the Cup and every year I think about a decent run with some decent draws (and it's been so long since we got beyond rounds 3 or 4) but can't shake the feeling that this year we could have done without playing our best 11 in those two games. Also, the poor performance on national tv in the replay will have surely knocked our confidence somewhat.
No way should we have been down at half time. We played well for 45 minutes with the exception of appalling defending of two short corners. Hope Gerken is ok but again showed how vulnerable he is to crosses. He did not get off the ground and can't punch for toffee. Second half we were toothless. Bamford too good for Smith and Berra. Mings no conviction going forward and subs made no impact. Bishop looked good and Skuse was quietly effective. Sears fairly anonymous and our set piece delivery simply poor. Our strengths from before Xmas - defensive solidity and attacking threat at set pieces has been completely turned on its head. We are now poor at both!
The stats and other managers may say we are a threat from set pieces but it somehow doesn't feel that way at the moment. Our "threat", for me, is inspite of our appalling delivery, especially from corners. Tabb is in the Leadbitter league of punts or hit the first man yet we allowed him to take nearly every one last night. Anderson is a bit better but nothing great. WTF was that last night in the 2nd half. Free kick intheir half, big men up and suddenly Tabb knocks it down the RIGHT wing to, wait for it, Tommy feckin Smith - who can't quite get control of it on his right foot and we lose possession. Imagine what damage we could do with decent delivery a la Whittingham at Cardiff. Our delivery is, quite frankly embarrasing. The lack of goals from direct free kicks is equally rubbish!
Tight games like yesterday, Wigan, Derby and even Rotherham show just how over reliant we are on strikers to score. If our front players don't score and our cb's can't get something from a set piece then we have nobody from ourmidfield who can be looked to on a decently regular basis to help out. The stats make depressing reading. If you include all the following - Tabb, Skuse, Hyam, S Hunt, Bishop, Anderson, Bru, Ambrose and Henshall then you get 115 league starts (54 sub apps) with a grand total of 4 goals. Perhaps you could boost it with Parr' goal at Millwall but it's still grim. Some will go on about Ando's assists, Bishop and Bru have some quality, Skuse is assured, Hyam, Hunt and Tabb are industrious and Ambrose has done ok. This is all true but it still doesn't make up for the fact they are not contributing anywhere near the level of goals required from a midfield four (or 3). This is magnified by the fact that since Christmas time, Smith and Berra have not got on the score sheet, McGoldrick has been out of form or injured and now Noel Hunt is out too. Murphy will not deliver every game and it's time the midfield chipped in.
Anderson and Tabb have both had their moments this season. Tabb in particular has looked good but generally from a more central position. However, for me in a 442 your wide midfielders need to offer you more. It's not for the want of effort but neither of these two present enough of an attacking threat to continually warrant a starting berth. When Bishop and Sears came on we looked far more positive andfor 15 minutes or so I thought we would go on to take the points. Mcgoldrick was poor and is looking distinctly out of formand low on confidence. Anyone watching Mings today will not have seen a 10 million pound player. He was too casual for me, strolling back at times. Hope Mick starts with Bishop and Sears in the next game in a 433 and I never thought I'd say this, but Mcgoldrick's place has to be in doubt on that showing.
Arrived about 1.45 and dropped my old man right opposite the ground on the road that leads to the local railway station. As I was getting his stuff out of the boot, Sean St Ledger, wearing an Ipswich shirt, shorts etc ran past in the direction of the station car park. Not reading anything into it but it just seemed strange for him to be in shorts etc in such cold weather runnning away from the ground! When Mcgoldrick finds his range again will dictate if we are in the shake up for automatic promotion come May. Poor decision by ref to bring play back and award a foul on Tabb when McG was about to shoot from inside the area - infuriating! The lighting and the stupid electronic advertising at pitchside are cr@p at that ground. In the second half there were times when I could hardly tell what was going on at the far end of the pitch it was either so gloomy or I couldn't focus for all the flashing feckin graphics pitchside. Then again, maybe I am now just a poor sighted grumpy old barsteward
MM has consistently cited Burnley as role model for potential promotion has he not? Well, on the 4th January 2014, Burnley played.....................................you guessed it, Southampton away in the 3rd Round of the FA Cup! Maybe this is an omen that we have the same draw (and even more so that the game has been switched to the same date!). The Clarets lost 4-3 btw.
Just think, 3 or 4 more games with Jewell in charge and we would surely have been totally cut adrift like Blackpool are right now. 42 years of support for me so I have seen and enjoyed some of the very best of times and whilst I don't ever see those coming back, the steady progression of the last two years under Mick and TC feels like we might finally be heading in the right direction again after some truly horrendous times.