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Judge Enjoying Being Back at Number Eight
Sunday, 7th Feb 2021 11:43

Opening goalscorer Alan Judge is pleased to be back operating in his most favoured role and believes yesterday’s improved performance as the Blues beat Blackpool 2-0 at Portman Road was down to work on the Playford Road training ground.

Judge netted the opening goal, his second of the season in the 43rd minute, with Luke Woolfenden adding the second four minutes after the break. From there, Town should have gone on to win more comfortably with a number of good chances going begging.

“It’s good to see things on the training field that we’ve been working on come to the fore,” Judge said afterwards. "It was just overall a pleasing performance.”

Asked what work at the training ground he was referring to, the Dubliner added: “Me personally, I’ve been back into number eight, into my position, which I’ve been enjoying in the last few weeks. Just getting those forward runs when we retrieve the ball.

“The first goal, we’ve been working on getting the ball back in those three or four seconds after you lose it.

“Kenny [Myles Kenlock] picked it up quite quickly and we’ve just gone forward and we’ve caught them on the counter, and that’s the kind of stuff we’ve been working on.”

Had he been frustrated playing wide, as he has often done this season? “I think the manager and the coaching staff would say I’m happy just to play, but I’m getting to an age now where I want to get into where I want to play and it’s up to me to keep myself in that position.

“Again, if the manager wants me to play out on the wing, I’ll do that with no problem and I think he knows I’m that type of lad, I’ll do whatever I need to do for the team.”

Regarding his goal, a low 20-yard strike which ripped across the wet surface and past Tangerines keeper Chris Maxwell, he said: “It was great, I was surprised by the amount of time I had, but again I think it was that quick turnover, we caught them on the counter-attack.

“To be fair, we must have had about 20 runs like that today and we could maybe even have got a few more. It’s just good to see the stuff from the training ground coming on to the pitch.”

Judge believes he can score more regularly in the role he played yesterday: “Yes, that’s what I’m hoping. We’ll see what happens on Tuesday [at Peterborough].

“We know we’ve got a lot of games and the gaffer says he might be freshening it up, we’ll see what he does.

“But we’re not playing with a number 10, we’re playing with an eight, I did that at Brentford. I like that, and I’m getting older, I’m not getting any younger, so I’m enjoying that part of tracking back, tackling, I can’t always be that flying number 10 and that winger that I used to be.”

He says his goal on Saturday was of a type he believes the Blues need to score more regularly, Town having turned defence into attack very swiftly.

“We’ve got good players but I think we also need to do the other side better,” he said. “The number of goals we’ve conceded with players running off us has not been acceptable and we have been working on that in training and there has been a lot more of that the last few weeks, and hopefully there’ll be more to come.

“Hopefully we get that right, if you don’t concede, you don’t lose games, so we’ve got to get that right in our game.”

At 32, Judge was the elder statesman in yesterday’s team and certain of his team-mates have reminded him of his senior standing.

“I know, I get called ‘Grandad’ by Flynn [Downes] every day, every morning,” he laughed. “He calls me ‘Grandad’, I don’t know what he calls Wardy and Chambo!”

Town handed debuts from the start to new loaneess Troy Parrott and Luke Matheson and Judge has been impressed by the duo.

“I played with Troy with Ireland, he’s a young boy, he’s only 19 but I think you can see from his presence that he’s got that little bit of arrogance about him. He can put himself about, he’ll take care of himself,” he said.

“He had a nice few touches and I expect goals from him and with Nors [James Norwood] coming back and obviously all the others, Aaron [Drinan], Kayden [Jackson], we’ve got good options.”

Regarding baby-faced right-back Matheson’s display, he joked: “With Luke, it’s like I’m looking at my son Jackson! When I saw him the other say and then what he did today, it’s just brilliant, I was delighted for him.”

Monday’s two new signings and earlier January loan recruits Luke Thomas and Josh Harrop have added to the competition at Portman Road.

“I think we need that, to be honest with you,” Judge reflected. “We do have a lot of games and the manager did say that he is going to make changes, so we’ve got to put up with that and when you do play, you’ve got to put yourself forward and I think hopefully a few of the lads did that today.”

Regarding what the January additions have added to the squad, he said: “We haven’t been able to see much of Josh Harrop, how’s your luck that he tested positive for Covid?

“It’s just that injection of energy and that bit of difference. I was at home for four days earleir in the week with family issues in Dublin, the club have been very good with me, and I came back and it was like a new squad.

“As I said, talk’s cheap, we just need to go on to the next game and just keep going and going and see what happens.”

Did the squad need that injection after a disappointing spell? “A new player always does that. For me, Josh is coming in as a number eight, I needed to be on the top of my game or else I’m out of the team. It’s just the way it goes.”

The Irish international says there’s now real competition for places: “As I said, there are a lot of games, so players can’t continuously play Saturday-Tuesday, Saturday-Tuesday for a ridiculous six or seven weeks. Games could get called off as well. It’s a team game and we’re all going to need each other to get up there.”

Judge says he’s ready to play his part in that busy schedule, despite his advancing years: “Always, as I said to the gaffer, I’ll make sure I always outrun the others.”

Quizzed on whether fans have been right to be critical of their team this season, he added: “Let’s be honest, we were 11th in the league today before the game, I know we’re behind. Us as players really do what to put that right.”

But Judge believes the Blues are still very much in the hunt despite currently sitting in 10th, four points off the play-off places.

“I think I heard the Peterborough chairman [Darragh MacAnthony] say that in this part of the season it’s going to be who has the biggest squad and who gets the fewest injuries,” he said.

“So we’ve just got all make sure we keep ourselves fit and then when we’re called upon, whoever plays, we give everything we can.”

And he says the more experienced players in the squad, the likes of him, skipper Luke Chambers and Stephen Ward, will have an important role to play alongside the youngsters in the squad, who fans may get more excited about.

“I understand Ipswich fans want to see their players come through, like at every club, every club wants to do it,” he said,

“But they need to be helped along as well sometimes and sometimes they need to be taken out of the firing line, even some older players need to be taken out of the firing line.

“You’ve just got to go with it, we’ve just got back each other and just go and try and keep to ourselves and just do what we can do.”

While not much of an on-pitch shouter, Judge says he plays his part when it comes to giving assistance to youngsters breaking through.

“I’m a bit quieter,” he continued. “I would more like to do my leading while talking to players individually, I’m not a ranter or a raver.

“First of all, I have to concentrate on myself as well, but if I can help others too, I’m more than happy to do that.

“I had that myself when I was younger and I’d just like to try and pass it on to other players as well.”

Looking ahead to Tuesday’s visit to London Road to face fourth-placed Peterborough, he added: “It’s a big game, whether it goes ahead we’ll see what goes on with the weather.

“Look, the fans have heard a lot of stuff, so I don’t want to harp on too much about it, we’ve just got to go into the next game and just go and see what happens.

“I know we don’t want to say ‘do this, do that’ and don’t back it up again, we’ll see what happens and go with it.”

Peterborough beat Town 1-0 in a game of few chances at Portman Road last month. Recalling that game, Judge said: “Our game plan I thought worked well against them, it wasn’t the best of games, but they’re a good team, they’ve got strikers in form, they move the ball well and I thought we restricted them well.

“I don’t think it was the best-looking game to watch but sometimes it’s needs must and hopefully whatever the manager decides on Tuesday, it might be a little bit different, we’ll see what he does.”

And he knows Town have to start beating teams above them sooner rather than later if they’re to be challengers. So far, the only team they have beaten while then in the division’s top 10 is Accrington Stanley.

“Of course, let’s not beat around the bush, we have to,” he admitted. “As I said, I don’t want to go ‘we need to do this, do that’, we’ll just see what happens come Tuesday.”

Photos: Matchday Images

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midastouch added 12:00 - Feb 7
I'll be honest, I'd pretty much given up on Judge. I was really excited when we signed Judge and Norwood but neither has done as well as I had hoped. Apart from Judge's performance at home to Burton Albion last season, I can't think of many games where he had stood out. But his finish yesterday was lovely, a real gem!
Players like Chambers, Sears and Judge get criticised (I joked the other day about loaning Judge and Sears to Woodbridge!) but sometimes we forget they aren't even being played in their favoured positions. Players made of the right stuff should use criticism in a positive way. That is to say, they should use it to spur them on to prove the doubters wrong.
Well done Judge, more quality goals like that one yesterday and you'll soon win over doubters like myself. Let's not forget he admitted he's been "sh*t" himself in an interview a while back. So he's under no illusions his performances haven't been up to the standard he would like. Maybe if he can play more regularly in his preferred role it will give him more confidence and we'll start to see better performances. Also, let's not forget how young the team was yesterday, so a bit of experience alongside the young talent isn't such a bad thing.
Well done AJ, more of the same Tuesday night please! :-)

Sixto6 added 12:12 - Feb 7
Let’s not get carried away - we beat a very poor Blackpool side at home, not Barcelona in the Nou Camp !

If Tuesday night doesn’t go well our season is practically over....... again !

Upthetown1970 added 12:18 - Feb 7
1 good game in 10 not great Mr Judge but have to say you done well Saturday.
Blackpool are a midtable side so we should beat them. Let's see how Tuesday goes against a top 6 side, we all know how they normally end.

TractorWood added 12:20 - Feb 7
Hopefully not his one good game for the season. Talk certainly is cheap.........

midastouch added 12:28 - Feb 7
League One form table (last 6 played), Ipswich and Blackpool are right next to each other (15th and 16th):
Posh are in 4th place so that should present a sterner test.

dirtydingusmagee added 12:31 - Feb 7
totally agree Midas, Judge has been very disappointing, but in fairness to him if he is not playing in his best position what can you expect, and sometimes it doesnt get taken into concideration when criticising him [or others] Yesterday showed a different Judge, can only hope its not wasted on Lambert, time will tell.

LWNR2013 added 12:38 - Feb 7
Decent comments. Very decent performance.

DifferentGravy added 12:53 - Feb 7
Not excusing player performance but if you dont play them in their correct positions or to their strengths then you wont get the best from them. You would think that is fairly self evident....but look at those who werent being played in their correct position over the season......Chambers, Jackson, Dozzell, Judge, Sears, Lancaster etc. Just like it was fairly obvious we needed to get more men forward, in the box, more shots, higher tempo

.....and people want to give Lambert 'credit' for finally resolving a few of the problems that us fans have been pointing out for MONTHS. Thats his job and he is well paid for it....the fans are not! Even Matheson signing(who played well) was a last second thought.

Lets not forget we have one of the best youth set ups and largest squads in the league, not to mention facilities. If we get into the play offs he will have done his job.... at the very least. I will give him credit if we get automatic promotion. But its one good game in dozens and lets not get carried away


Linkboy13 added 12:55 - Feb 7
Yes Upthetown1970 one good game in ten is not good but that's one more than Dozzell who still looks like a little boy lost in midfield.

BettyBlue added 12:59 - Feb 7
What have you been doing before on the training ground?

Not bothering?

MonkeyAlan added 13:10 - Feb 7
Blackpool was one game. They weren't that great. Let's not forget the last 2 abysmal seasons. One swallow does not make a summer. Lambert out.

terryf added 13:20 - Feb 7
Judge obviously enjoyed linking up with Dozzell and a talented and energetic centre-forward in Parrott and was a worthy man of the match. I'll not lie cause up until yesterday I was all for dropping both him and Sears, who for most of this season have run around a lot but with no end product.

Downes is a natural for the holding position and the introduction of youth resulted in a higher tempo and desire to get the ball forward more quickly.
We really should have had a couple more goals through McGuinness and Sear,s but overall we've got to be pleased with both the result and performance.

I actually enjoyed watching the match for a change.

Also thought Mathieson had a good game and when Thomas and Harrop (who looked composed during his cameo performance) are up to speed we may just get back into the mix. I just hope that it's not too late because there is a lot of catching up to do.

Thought it was a nice touch with Chambers bringing on the oranges at!!!

Ipswichbusiness added 13:21 - Feb 7
“Regarding baby-faced right-back Matheson’s display, he joked, “With Luke it’s like I’m looking at my son Jackson ...””

Be careful Messrs Ham and Judge, you might “offend” the politically correct.

Suffolkboy added 13:50 - Feb 7
Midas touch illustrated amply some basic points about where ITFC have not been capitalising on the talents and strengths we have amongst our squad !
Others have commented on PL’s unwillingness to even attempt to change things around ; it’s a Manager’s job to get the best out of the team players at his disposal , to adapt formations and systems to do that AND to win whatever game the team face up to .
Let’s not even pretend PL has man managed , utilised assets properly ,nor that our Management team have been anything other than ( stupidly ?) stubborn in their approach .Despite years of personal experience we’ve not witnessed objective intelligence , but now with some players at last being tried in more familiar roles there IS hope !
PS A very level headed interview by AJ + says lots between the lines ?

BettyBlue added 13:54 - Feb 7
I don't believe Paul Lambert chose this team or the tactics.

grinch added 14:14 - Feb 7
Playing individuals in correct positions is just normal management surely. People won't like this but Chambers should play instead of Wolfenden as he had poor game again yesterday bad passing and positional play poor and Mcguiness has been better this season. Sears had another opportunity and again think he was poor. Judge when played in correct position has looked OK so keep him there edwards needs to be on left and let parrot play alongside Norwood. Harrop on right for Tues could be good Dozzel had good game yesterday imo as hecwas picking out passes well with parrot making runs for him that's what he needs. For PL with mist players back put players in correct positions then yiu may get results

Skip73 added 14:20 - Feb 7
Wow! Play players in their correct positions and they perform well. Who'd have thought it.

therein61 added 16:24 - Feb 7
Seems that some pressure has been asserted by players who see the game differently from the manager(not difficult) playing to players strengths in their proper positions has worked so carry on with it, Judge stated that he will play on the wing if selected there but he has shown he is more effective where he played Saturday, big gob had a history of shoving people out wide making them look stupid and P.L has followed suit as he has followed big gob in other ways play your favourites, have a crack at the media and fans, et al thinking he is untouchable.

bluelodgeblue added 17:49 - Feb 7
Maybe there’s a message to the manager there? 🥱🥱

Bert added 18:49 - Feb 7
Balanced and appropriate comments from Judge. We need performances like Saturday’s every game.

Karlosfandangal added 20:22 - Feb 7
People forget of the problems Judge had outside of football and the reason why he wanted to move to a London club.

Most people on here forget that they are human and sometimes have problems out of football

KiwiBlue2 added 22:18 - Feb 7
Lets hope the penny has finally dropped for PL around playing people in their best/favoured positions but dont hold your breath.
I suspect PL and MM subscribe to the idea of shoe-horning in the players that they regard as their best in any position just to get them on to the field.
I think that we have suffered in recent years from that philosophy and hope that from hereon (albeit very belatedly) Lambert firmly adopts the round pegs in round holes perspective and we can see more results like Saturday........

Barty added 10:15 - Feb 8
Much needed 3 points but we must continue this on Tuesday against much stiffer opposition. Chambers dropped and we keep a clean sheet- say no more

Orraman added 11:18 - Feb 8
I guess it must be an age thing, but what is all this about No 8 and No 10. He says he is not a No 10 because he doesn't fly about anymore but in my distant youth 8 was an inside right and 10 was an inside left and the only difference was with what foot you kicked with. Their job was to fetch from the half backs and deliver to the outside right, outside left or centre forward. That's 7, 11 and 9 to you younger readers. Don't even get me started on this new fanged 'false nine'.
Wonder if PL watched Man City yesterday and noticed how much they improved after going 4 4 2 after the break. If it's good enough for Pep then give it a try Lambert. All the best against Posh - onwards and upwards

Marinersnose added 11:28 - Feb 8
I have been critical of Judge as for two seasons now he has failed to reach the performance levels we all know and loved when we pulled off his signature. He has talent but has been ill disciplined in the manner in which he plays leaving gaps in behind. I would also have dropped him along with Chambo but his performance and discipline was exactly what we need. He was energetic and even scored a well taken goal. I think both him and Dozzell will need to be on their games now with Harrop who looked useful and Bishop now both raring to go. This performance has taken a long time to come but its here and we need to use this as motivation for the next game. I wouldn’t change the starting lineup as all players deserve their start after the win. Yes there were some who were not at full tilt and it’s only right that if they don’t step up then others will be introduced. Green shoots appearing but they need to keep improving. Well done .

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