After parting company with Paul Jewell, Ipswich appointed Mick McCarthy in a bid to avoid the drop from the Championship. Gavin Barber tells us what to expect from the home side.
After finishing mid-table last season, what’s gone wrong?
This season’s dreadful form has only really been a continuation of a steady decline over the last few years – it’s more the case that things have gone slightly more wrong this season than we’ve become used to, rather than a sudden or unexpected downturn. We knew back in August that we had a weak and disjointed squad, and whilst some might be surprised by how far we’ve sunk, I don’t think many Town fans had any great hopes for this season.
What’s the opinion on Mick McCarthy so far?
Pretty supportive. His sense of humour has gone down well and most fans are fully aware of the size of his task – as he must also be by now. He’s had 5 games which have yielded 2 wins, 2 defeats and 1 draw. Both defeats have been heavy ones (5-0 at Palace and 6-0 at Leicester), but seven points out of a possible 15 is still an improvement on what went before. For a club at the bottom of the second division to have recruited a former international boss who was managing in the Premier League last season is probably more than we have a right to expect, so most fans will be prepared to give him time. If he fails to keep us up, anger is likely to be directed at those who created the mess that he inherited.
Have there been many changes since last season?
‘Have there been many changes since last week?’ is a more pertinent question where Ipswich are concerned. Instability has been a hallmark of our recent history: the solution to any problem areas has been to recruit loan players, rather than trying to improve what we’ve got through better coaching, systems or tactics. Currently we have a ridiculous 10 players (DJ Campbell, Danny Higginbotham, Guirane N’Daw, Stephen Henderson, Bilel Moshni, Nigel Reo-Coker, Bradley Orr, Tyrone Barnett, Daryl Murphy and Kelly Youga) on either loan or short-term contracts. Some, such as Campbell and N’Daw, have been successful, whereas others such as Henderson are arguably no improvement on what we already had. Reo-Coker will be absent through injury on Tuesday which will hopefully give a welcome opportunity to home-grown midfielder Luke Hyam, a player many fans would like to see given a run in the team.
What can we expect tactically?
McCarthy is a 4-4-2 advocate, preferably involving some kind of target man – though Saturday’s game against Peterborough saw the less-than-giant Campbell and Michael Chopra paired together. Unsurprisingly, we had more success when we abandoned high balls and tried to keep it on the floor. However, loan signing Tyrone Barnett – kicked out of Peterborough United following a ‘nightclub incident’ and therefore a natural recruit to the Portman Road Home For Flawed Talent (see also Chopra, M. and Bullard, J.) – may make his debut against Forest to add a bit more power to the attack.
Who are the key players to watch out for?
Campbell is the only man who could be described as being ‘in form’ – a regular scorer in recent games, matched with some impressive all-round displays. Wide men Lee Martin and Carlos Edwards, like so many wingers, can be frustrating, but each is capable of causing problems. Jay Emmanuel-Thomas, an unpredictable but occasionally explosive talent, is likely to start on the bench.
What’s going to happen on Tuesday?
Ipswich will huff and puff and tantalise the home fans with a few promising signs, before the usual defensive calamity will allow Forest to take a lead which they’ll comfortably hold. Sorry, probably should have put a spoiler alert on that one.
Follow Gavin on Twitter: @gavinbarber