For the second home game in succession I was brimming with anticipation. Despite the disappointment against Barnsley, the undeserved yet heart-warming, last second draw at Brighton and what was reported as the performance of the season against Blackburn, meant that hope was, once again, springing eternal in at least one human breast. By the end, however, anticipation and hope lay dashed in the wreckage of a display that opened with promise but degenerated into a shambles as bad as anything that Megson or Coyle produced. We were the better team for an hour; by the end we might have lost by two or three goals.
First the bare bones of the game. Stephen Warnock was, I think, suspended; the introduction of Alonso in his place was one of three changes Dougie made in the eleven that had beaten Blackburn. We began with Bogdan; Mears, Knight, Ricketts, Alonso; Eagles, Spearing, Andrews, Mark Davies; Kevin Davies, Ngog.
After six minutes, Mark Davies shot from distance, Henderson in the Ipswich goal didn’t move, and we were one up. We continued to dominate for the rest of the first half and created several chances, all of which were squandered. The best fell to Kevin Davies, following a rapid break from defence, but the captain’s shot was wide. We had not played well but looked organised and composed; we were much the better team.
For a while in the second period, the game continued in the same vein, with Henderson saving well from Kevin Davies but gradually the Wanderers became less assured and the game began to drift away. After twenty minutes Chung was introduced in place of Eagles and five minutes later Ipswich were level. A neat through ball split our defence and sent Murphy running towards goal only for Mears to floor him with a mistimed tackle. It was a bad error, the Ipswich man was by no means clear nor was he sure of scoring. Bogdan went the right way for Campbell’s spot kick but it was so well placed it eluded him.
From thereon, things went from bad to bleedin’ awful. Afobe came on for Kevin Davies and Butterfield replaced Andrews, all to no avail. Right on ninety minutes Bogdan fumbled a save and before he could recover Chopra nipped in and scored the winner. In added time, Ipswich might have added to their lead twice. So Dougie’s unbeaten run came to an inglorious end.
Describing the game in any more detail would be painful for me to write and tedious for you to read. It was all so familiar. So, as our manager appears to be constantly assessing players and formations I thought it might be useful to give him the benefit of my experience of watching our favourites over the last few years. I don’t suppose for one minute he will read it, but here goes.
- 4-4-2 doesn’t work with this squad of players. There were many instances of this truth under the previous manager.
- Mark Davies isn’t a winger. He worked hard in the role and constantly tracked back to help Alonso but he is a central midfield player. It was from this position that he scored his goal.
- Kevin Davies and Ngog are not an effective striking partnership.
- Afobe is an absolute waste of time.
- Chung is twice as effective playing on the right. Some wingers can play on the ‘wrong’ flank; some, including Chung (and Petrov), can’t.
- When you hit on a successful eleven, it might be an idea to stick with it as far as possible. Why leave out Butterfield and Chung and why play them both out of position when bringing them on.
- When making substitutions it is better to take off players that are not playing well. Ngog and Spearing are both players that I like. However, they were both having poor games yet were still on the field at the end.
- You probably know now that the players you inherited are not quite as good as you were led to believe. Nevertheless, they were better, man for man, than those from Ipswich. The difference was, the visitors worked harder. Their forwards constantly harried and hassled our defenders and there were long periods when we couldn’t get hold of the ball.
- When defending corners we don’t need every player in the box. This only leads to the ball being played back in after a clearance. It took Owen Coyle two years but he did eventually realise this.
- Bogdan clearly needs a rest. I realise Lonergan is injured just now but Boggers is costing us too many points.
- Promotion is clearly not on the cards. You need to concentrate on making sure we don’t go down. We are still in the same lowly position in the table that we were in when you came.
A Well Wisher
P.S. Please sort things out before the next game. Huddersfield is a ‘home’ game for me and if we play as badly again, I’ll never live it down.