Sunday, 27 May 2012

Take a gamble, trust Jewell, back ITFC

On Thursday, Part 1 of Mark's blog looked at off-the field factors that influenced Town's 10th year in the second tier of English Football League.

Today, Mark looks in detail at the man in charge of the on-field action, the man who currently holds the key to the future of Ipswich Town, the man I've been trying so hard to have faith in this season: Paul Jewell.

To the management, coaching, player selection, tactics, and player performances; I am biased.  There I have declared. I wanted PJ above all the rest of the available options.

I wanted that change and contrast from the outgoing Roy Keane. He is a footballing legend, but it did not work out at ITFC (in a big way).

I saw the post-Keano ITFC as a long-term turnaround and therefore managed my own expectations to such an extent that, despite the deep low at the turn of the year, I was still optimistic that Jewell was the right man to get us out of the hole and scale the mountain.
'There is now the prospect of a group of players that will have a sense of togetherness and will know what the manager expects.' 

There are a few small things that give me more hope than I've had in recent times: mainly the stability (some will laugh) that comes from retaining a talented and committed manager. There is now a prospect of some team selections next season comprising a group of players that have been through some very deep lows together and whom will come back in July for pre-season with things to prove. They will know each other, they will have that sense of togetherness and they will know what the manager expects. Above all, a contingent would appear to actually be on the side of the manager (given some post-Jan performances) and I'm not sure this has always been the case in recent times.

There is also the prospect of a few key additions for the team. Surely this will be for the good of ITFC this time around? The manager has made and admitted past mistakes, but he has had plenty of time and has experimented; now he knows what he has got and what is needed to take us forwards.

Continuity has been maintained by retaining Jewell and whatever you thought of the last season and a half, he brought us Cressa, JET and Chops, and got rid of baggage, this gives me hope!

'I have a concern that Jewell's contract it up in a year, he should be offered a one year extension to attract players that know he'll be there, not only this year, but the one after too'

This summer assumes more significance and becomes quite critical for Jewell as he has to fill core gaps that have been apparent for some time. Next season, whatever it brings, needs to be solid progression.

I have a concern that Jewell's contract is up in one year and our fans, many not overly positive towards him, will be calling for his head in November / December as we enter the usual RfS (Request for Sacking) season, possibly sooner. This situation is sure to be unsettling and should be resolved by putting in place a one year extension (at least) so that he is able to attract players that know he will be here to work with them, not only this year, but the one after next too.

ITFC needs a firm footing top to bottom. If results don't work in Jewell's favour, the club and he will probably part company anyway, hence establishing some additional continuity at the top.

Next season November/ December is not the key time, the end of next season is; we all know what is possible from a fairly low league position at the turn of the year.

To the tactical side of the game, I am not going to spend too much time in analysis mode, not because it's unimportant or not interesting to do so, but this is ultimately at the manager's discretion based on players available and their capability. It is a simple game with 11 v 11, and often it is over complicated!

That said, I like the 4-2-3-1 formation, it is essentially a tweaked 4-5-1, though it really does require some particular players to play it well and to be offensively successful. If recent results are to go by, the depth is not something ITFC have been blessed with.

One thing is for sure, ITFC have been challenged in recent seasons by their inability to switch and change a game. Without doing the maths, it seems Jewell has a reasonably even record in recent times of winning and losing having made changes with the chosen personnel. If he can secure some new players this summer we will have the resources to play Solid (4-2-3-1) or more Fluid (in a traditional 4-4-2 or less traditional 4-4-1-1).

'ITFC are guilty of chasing victories when points accumulation would have been more beneficial'

My last point on the tactics is that playing well takes time and understanding irrespective of the tactics. Having observed the Championship for some time, too long, ITFC have been guilty of chasing games and victories at various stages of the season when points' accumulation would have been more beneficial.

Is this tactics, or pure naivety? I imagine it is part of a team low on morale and built on a high level of expectation that is being exploited by opposition. No one player has been able to build a back catalogue of good performances (until recently) as their team mates have not been playing well and hence they have not played well together or understood each other's games due to the constant changes forced on the various managers. I see this slowly changing and some of the positive results this season are signs of small step progress.

I would add that there seems to be a pattern in the Championship. Cutting the season in 2, the first stage has typically seen ITFC go out all guns blazing trying to win every game up until they realise that they are losing more than they win, and only to find that we have been undone on too many occasions and not had the points in the bag. Our main prerogative has then been to secure enough points to ensure we are not relegated! Happily, ITFC has seen upturns in results in the "vital" second stage of the season.
Next season I'd like ITFC to be a bit more intelligent in games: solid early in the season (first 10-15 games), then in the next 15 games take more calculated risks against teams, and in the final push, exploit those teams with everything to play for by countering their desire for maximum points.

Ok, not that simple, but you can set out with the right intent in terms of style of play, but work to achieve a slower point accumulation and most importantly, know when 1 point is enough especially away from home, and even at home against better teams.

'If we want Porman Road to be a fortress we have to be more positive'

My last point is on the ITFC fans. Like in life, some you love and some you don't like so much! All views/ opinions are always welcome BUT MY BIG ASK is that when you cross that line (Portman Road in this case) please, please remain positive! ITFC needs you and irrespective of your opinions on Ownership and club strategy; Management, coaching, player selection and tactics; or Player performances, if we want Portman Road to be the Fortress we have to be a little more positive and forgiving of small errors of judgement as football is a game of imperfections.

It is our beautiful game, it costs you enough so enjoy next season.

Many thanks to Mark for such a well thought out piece.

Please do get in touch if you have any thoughts on this matter @tractorgirlamy8

1 comment:

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