|We Love You and This is the Way We Like It|
Written by Pickersblue22 on Thursday, 23rd Apr 2015 09:06
Two games. 180 minutes. That’s all it is. All that stands between us and a place in the top six. Another 180 minutes. The chance of a Wembley final. Possibly against our nearest and not so dearest. It’s all in our hands. We can reach out and touch it. Thirteen years of hurt could be ended. We’re almost there.
If ever there has been a season of two halves, it has been this one for Town. I struggle to think of anything that we have done the same in both halves of the season. Our consistency that we prided ourselves on up until the new year has completely gone. We have gone from losing four of our 25 matches in league and cup before the turn of the year, to winning eight and losing eight of the 21 games since.
Mick McCarthy abstained from criticising certain players during our stuttering form, claiming things like ‘He’s been different class all season’, or ‘He’s been great for us’. No. What Mick really means is that those players have performed well for half of the season and then sketchily for the other half.
Scoring goals was another hallmark of our season, but we had an eight-game period over March and the start of April when we failed to score more than one goal in a game. It is obviously no coincidence that Daryl Murphy has lost some of his firepower, but it would have been wrong to expect him to keep up his scintillating from before the new year.
Freddie Sears has brilliantly taken the pressure off Murphy and is looking like an absolute steal at £100,000. There are still big question marks over the make-up of the back four, but now is not the time to discuss that. It would be crazy to change the defence with two games left. I believe that it is nigh-on impossible for us to fully succeed in this division with a centre-back at right-back, but that issue can wait until the summer.
The title of this blog would suggest that I do not want to gripe about our team, so I’ll stop it there. It is clear to me that the wins over Blackpool and Cardiff show what kind of team we can be. We had absolutely no option but to win, as Mick admitted, which meant the shackles had to come off.
When we simply have to score more goals than our opponents, that is when we are at our best and the Blackpool and Cardiff games are examples of that. We had gone seven games in a row only scoring one goal, and then we score three twice in a row.
This is a very obvious change in mentality. This should be our approach far more often. It has taken until the last five games of the season for us to play with real freedom. Of course, there are games like Saturday’s at Wolves where winning is not essential, and gritting it out is the best approach. Our opponents had to win and we didn’t, but I do think that the shackles should be off more of the time.
We have the players to play in a positive fashion. I know we are known for playing long-ball, physical football, but there is no reason why this should be the case. Mick just favours a certain type of player, and it has us in sixth position.
I wonder whether Mick has enjoyed games when we have had to win. Are we playing in a way that he doesn’t like, when we have to score goals and push the full-backs on? Does Mick just not like going for it? I said I wouldn’t gripe, but I believe that we are actually a better team than the manager thinks.
There have been a couple of incidents which represent where our approach could change. Watching the game against Blackpool, there was a moment when Bartosz Bialkowski had the ball in his hands after a ball over the top came to him. I looked over to Mick, and he was shouting to Bart to smash the ball up the field. Bart instead threw the ball out to Tyrone Mings, who took the ball down the left wing, exchanged passes with Teddy Bishop, drove the ball into the box, and it broke to Sears, who shot over.
The ball on the ground from keeper to striker, from one end of the pitch to the other, and a chance created. Mick wanted the ball lumped up the pitch.
The second incident was Cole Skuse’s stunning goal against Cardiff. It was possibly the best goal I have ever seen at Portman Road, an absolute howitzer. Tommy Smith said afterwards that as Skuse hit the ball, he was calling out ‘Turn back, it’s too far’.
This is an example of how positivity is the way forwards. The first incident shows that we are able to play with the ball on the floor. Maybe Mick feels that it is not the best way for us to play. But it gives an indication, that perhaps we could be even better with a different approach. The Smith incident is very similar. It is ingrained in our team to take the safe option, and turn back, rather than pushing forward and being exciting to watch.
Mick has said the words ‘We may not be the best team in the league, but...’ on a number of occasions. Now I am not going to say that we are the best team in the league, but I truly think we have a better team than some people make out. Perhaps our best players aren’t getting into the team, and deserve, or have deserved, more of a chance to prove themselves. Are we shooting ourselves in the foot? Maybe, but now is not the time to make changes, or even consider them.
I love this team, and love watching the team, especially when we are forced to be urgent, and go for it, and take risks. Risk-taking is not part of Mick’s vocabulary, but we have shown what can happen when we do take risks. That is what us supporters want to see, a team that is more exciting. We have the players; we now need the approach to match the players.
Five games stand between us and the Premier League. Whatever anyone thinks about the selection, style of play, or mind-set, we certainly would have taken this situation at the start of the season. Let’s hear the Ipswich sing. We love you, we love you, we love you, and that’s the way we like it.
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