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Time for Ipswich to Appoint a Professor of the Defensive Arts
Written by ThatMuhrenCross on Tuesday, 4th Sep 2012 00:30

Ipswich's draw with Huddersfield was not the only game of football I watched this weekend. Indeed, I rarely miss any of the televised games that are on each week.

Perhaps it is because I am a football nerd, a Premier League geek, or as I have been described on more than one occasion; just plain obsessed.

There is no hiding the fact that I just love to watch football – no matter who is playing really – but it's not just because I love it.

Well, actually, that is the main reason, I guess. But there is a part of me that sits there scouting, learning and plotting. What would I have done if I was the boss? How can I implement that in training next week? I wonder how they came up with that? Why can't Ipswich do that?!

Sad, it might be, but the latter is a question is one I often find myself asking. More than once a week, I should imagine.

Having watched Saturday's game against the Terriers from Block M of the ever so eloquently named East of England Co-Operative Stand – or the Pioneer as so many of you will know it – I was perched perfectly in line with the edge of the 18-yard-box.

It was an intriguing angle to view the game from. Often it is the best position to determine whether a player has been caught offside or not, or whether the linesman has made the right call on a penalty decision.

What it allowed me to see, however, was the woeful way Town allowed James Vaughan to drift unmarked into the six-yard box to net Huddersfield's equaliser.

From the moment the untracked Adam Clayton picked up the ball in the middle of the park and turned to face the Ipswich goal, I knew there would be problems. For starters, either Massimo Luongo or Andy Drury should have got closer to him (Luke Hyam might have, had he been fit).

He had two choices. After Luke Chambers had been drawn out of position and towards the ball, Vaughan had made a simple diagonal run away from the unaware Tommy Smith to find himself in space. Clayton could have picked him out there and then with a cute chipped through-ball.

Alternatively, and the wiser option (which he took), he could pick out Daniel Ward on the left. The winger had been left in acres of space after Jack Ainsley abandoned his right-back duties and allowed himself to be sucked into the middle by the central defensive instincts of his youth.

That allowed Ward the simple task of cutting the ball back across goal for the still unmarked Vaughan to slide home the equaliser with consummate ease.

The fact of the matter was, that goal could so easily have been nipped in the bud at a very early stage, and furthermore, the fact it was allowed to develop as far as it did showed a level of defensive naivety that should not be demonstrated by professional footballers.

It is little wonder of course. How could you expect this Ipswich defence to be organised? Not only is it questionable as to whether one or two individuals are up to the job, but it is abundantly clear that they are not coming into the game with the sort of preparation that you would expect.

Not many Championship clubs have a defensive coach, but many of the top Premier League sides do. Perhaps that is where the difference lies.

This brings me back to where I was at the start of this blog. One of the games I happened to watch this weekend was Arsenal's fantastic win away to Liverpool.

Like Ipswich, the Gunners played some neat attacking football and were good value for the two goals they scored. The difference? They didn't concede any.

Indeed, Arsenal looked so organised, and I mused over the possibility that it could be due to the fact that they have specialist defensive coaches within their ranks.

It's nothing major. Just a wise old head who works with the defenders on a daily basis at the training ground, drilling them with match-like scenarios and lecturing them on the dos and don'ts of their positions.

Perhaps it is time Ipswich brought in a man of that nature. How much better would our defending be, if the likes of Jack Ainsley, Tommy Smith, Aaron Cresswell, and dare I say it Luke Chambers and Carlos Edwards, had a professor defensive arts to call upon?

What wonders would a John McGreal, an Allan Hunter or a Jason De Vos behind the scenes do for Town's goals against record?

They don't have to have played for Ipswich before, either. Maybe Paul Jewell managed a great defensive leader once who could come in and help our defence out.

It's just my humble opinion, of course!

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rosseden added 00:45 - Sep 4
totally agree, i mentioned this on the forum but was shot down. Bould has worked wonders at Arsenal, we have a fulltime and parttime fitness coach, kennedy there, but what does he do? i dont know who does what in training, but we do need something, this isnt just about defending from the front, which is still important, its eliminatiing simple mistakes across the back 4......

Kropotkin123 added 07:51 - Sep 4
I think a def coach would be a wise investment

DurhamTownFan added 08:48 - Sep 4
I agree that we certainly need better defensive organisation. Our guys rarely seem to attack the ball with conviction, and instead seem to prefer to stand off and see what happens. Decision making is as key to defending as it is going forward!

While you've given an in-depth view of one example, I'm sure there are many more from this season already!

nitroblue1970 added 09:10 - Sep 4
Nice work, enjoyed reading it, isnt Russell Osman still at the club? Ex England International and ITFC legend?

ThatMuhrenCross added 11:54 - Sep 4
I believe Russell Osman is in charge of the academy these days, isn't he? But an interesting suggestion nonetheless!

Surco72 added 11:58 - Sep 4
I agree to a point that a defensive coach would obviously be beneficial ,but also the simple facts are that from kids football defenders are taught to be goal side of attackers ,and if a man makes a run you go with him which Smith has failed to do for a number of games in a row costing us goals . If you dont know this by now you shouldnt be a professional footballer and there is nothing a coach or a manager can do about players just switching off in the middle of a game .IMO

pazelle added 12:13 - Sep 4
I reckon Tommy Smith could do with a rest and even he admits he likes competition for places in defence.
Having said that, Mertesacker played like a 7 foot hen in previous seasons and Bould only came in this year and it all looks better.
Yeah, get Jason De Vos in as a defensive coach and sign Mohsni up!

irishtim added 13:33 - Sep 4
Agreee totally mate. Well written.

Surco72 added 13:48 - Sep 4
Pazelle surely you are not saying a defender approaching 100 games for Germany has Bould to thanks for his defending qualities after a few months of training ?
More likely he had a dip in form when first joining Arsenal and suffering an injury ,Bould could coach Tommy for the next 5 years and he wont reach the level of Mertesacker

Brazils_Hair added 14:28 - Sep 4
Makes me wonder what happended to John McGreals hair. I think he may have had the strangest hair at Portman Road ever.

I am going to look him up on the internet. I reckon he is now 100% bald. Everywhere.

madmouse1959 added 16:09 - Sep 4
Good point. Our defending has been dire for quite a while. Fitness coach.....what a joke.

Blue_Fred added 19:24 - Sep 4
Excellent point very well made mate

So what about Upson as a player/coach? Just a thought..

daniel9624 added 22:30 - Sep 4
It was discussed this weekend that bould was not only worknig with the back four, but all areas of the arsenal team, so that the midfield and front men were also aware of their defensive responsiblities

merl added 23:57 - Sep 4
McGreal currently works as a youth team coach for Col U

ThatMuhrenCross added 00:14 - Sep 5
Well merl, we've pinched Colchester's best coaches in the past!! haha

TenerifeKeith added 03:53 - Sep 5
Although it might be a good idea to have a defensive coach, players will make mistakes no matter what. The main difference between the Arsenal defence and ours is the fact that they have much better players.

I mildly agree with your sentiment but I didn't need three paragraphs to tell me how much you like football.

JonahJameson added 08:18 - Sep 5
Talking of Russell Osman overseeing the odd defensive session, we are having to increase the number of youth coaches to qualify for cat 2 status. As far as I'm aware it's not against the law for a coach officially assigned to the academy to take the odd senior session. Just make one of the new coaches (academy or otherwise) a defensive specialist and make sure there's a couple of defensive sessions a week.

As it is, a fundamental part of training should be small pitch based overloading where an outnumbered attack is drilled against the defense and vice versa - the defenders being drilled in double cover and so on. Either the coaching is so useless they aren't even doing this or the coaching is so useless they can't do it properly. Either way the coaching does appear pretty useless from a defensive perspective (unless it's just our defenders...).

PremierBlue added 09:46 - Sep 5
I would like to know who is responsible for defensive training in our current regime? Is there any division of labour made in these responsibilities between those in charge, or is it just all together chipping in?

Whatever the situation, we will need to give greater focus and attention to this fundamental aspect of the game. We need someone who knows the game and who exudes responsibility to come in with mental clarity and spend time with the boys.

They would benefit from someone like Mick Mills who is a legend, who is calm and who is crisp clear in his communication from what I've heard on the commentary. A presence like that would transform the team and raise its awareness, organising and improving the defensive conduct of the team as a unit.

I don't know if we can get in a new CB who has some of these qualities otherwise we certainly should find someone to coach it, but in the manner mentioned above by someone who already owns the qualities and exudes them as he breathes.


Bergholtblue added 08:44 - Sep 6
We did get in a defensive coach in the form of Gary Ablett, which unfortunately ended in tragedy before he could make any sort of impact. I never knew why he was never replaced.

PremierBlue added 11:42 - Sep 6
Gary Ablett passed away Jan 1, 2012. The responsible thing for PJ etc to do is to appoint a new defensive coach asap. I'm sure we could find a suitable candidate as mentioned above. It would give much in return to the team and their long suffering fans. We are not to become a defensive team but a more whole and mature team, balanced in its departments. The team so many fans around the world know we can be and look forward to.

eaii added 10:02 - Sep 7
It would be better to actually have decent defenders? a defensive coach to go with all the other managers and coaches? "too many chiefs and not enough indians" would be more relevant to Ipswich Towns woes?

Kropotkin123 added 20:26 - Sep 9
The structure of our def has been poor for some time.

1 - It doesn't matter if we had good defenders, such as McAuley, or international keepers, such as Stockdale. The defensive issues have been around for ages.

2 - We have had def at the expense of attack, or an exposed defence, or a team that cannot defend as one unit. A defensive coach should be able to address this

3 - We have had continuous spells of the same errors, regardless of the names on the teamsheet, such as crosses. A def coach should be able to address this.

Tbh, I'm really surprised we dont have a def coach. I would have thought we would have an attack, defence and fitness coach as standard.

essexblue41 added 12:07 - Sep 12
see nothing possitive is coming out of portman road this week regaurding loan signings with a veiw to buy same old bull everytime
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