North Stander: Ten games in but what signs of improvement?

PUBLISHED: 10:17 23 September 2018 | UPDATED: 10:25 23 September 2018

Town manager Paul Hurst acknowledges fans after the Ipswich Town v Bolton Wanderers game.    Picture: STEVE WALLER     WWW.STEPHENWALLER.COM

Town manager Paul Hurst acknowledges fans after the Ipswich Town v Bolton Wanderers game. Picture: STEVE WALLER WWW.STEPHENWALLER.COM

© Copyright Stephen Waller

Terry Hunt says the alarm bells are ringing at Portman Road... Very loudly now!

Kayden Jackson jumps in as Jack Hobbs heads the ball.    Picture: STEVE WALLER     WWW.STEPHENWALLER.COMKayden Jackson jumps in as Jack Hobbs heads the ball. Picture: STEVE WALLER WWW.STEPHENWALLER.COM

The alarm bells are ringing very loudly now.

Like the vast majority of Town fans, I have tried hard to stay upbeat during this dreadful start to the season. But the tipping point has been reached.

It’s because I can see absolutely no signs of improvement.

In the first few games, it was understandable that the team looked disjointed, given the huge number of new players Paul Hurst has brought in.

Physio Matt Byard treats Jonathan Walters after he had pulled up with injury.    Picture: STEVE WALLER     WWW.STEPHENWALLER.COMPhysio Matt Byard treats Jonathan Walters after he had pulled up with injury. Picture: STEVE WALLER WWW.STEPHENWALLER.COM

It will all come good, I thought.

But now, here we are after ten games, and the players still look like a group of complete strangers who have somehow ended up on a football pitch in the same team.

So many passes go astray because the intended target hasn’t made the anticipated run.

We are still seeing Ipswich players going for the same ball in the air.

Toto Nsiala battles with Pawel Olkowski and David Wheater.    Picture: STEVE WALLER     WWW.STEPHENWALLER.COMToto Nsiala battles with Pawel Olkowski and David Wheater. Picture: STEVE WALLER WWW.STEPHENWALLER.COM

MORE: Town v Bolton.... Player ratings

How can this happen after ten games, and endless training sessions?

There’s a lot of talk about a lack of confidence and, of course, that must be playing a part.

But I fear there’s a more fundamental factor which is stopping us from winning games – a basic lack of quality.

Jonas Knudsen dives in on Jason Lowe late in the game.    Picture: STEVE WALLER     WWW.STEPHENWALLER.COMJonas Knudsen dives in on Jason Lowe late in the game. Picture: STEVE WALLER WWW.STEPHENWALLER.COM

The game against Bolton was a case in point.

Let’s face it, the visitors aren’t much good anyway, and once they’d been reduced to ten men they were there for the taking.

All it needed was for us to keep patient and play some quality football to unlock their defence.

We just weren’t capable of it.

Cole Skuse is caught by David Wheater.    Picture: STEVE WALLER     WWW.STEPHENWALLER.COMCole Skuse is caught by David Wheater. Picture: STEVE WALLER WWW.STEPHENWALLER.COM

MORE: Five observations from Town’s draw with Bolton

Of course, we had a lot of the ball, but we managed just two efforts on target, with only Chambers’ late header forcing Bolton keeper Alnwick into a serious save. And what a save that was, by the way.

We just don’t carry a goal threat.

Six goals in nine league games tells its own sorry story. We are equal lowest scorers in the Championship with mighty Rotherham.

Matthew Pennington about to take a throw in.    Picture: STEVE WALLER     WWW.STEPHENWALLER.COMMatthew Pennington about to take a throw in. Picture: STEVE WALLER WWW.STEPHENWALLER.COM

What also concerns me a great deal is that Hurst still hasn’t found his best starting line-up.

I thought after last Tuesday’s encouraging second-half display against Brentford, he would surely start on Saturday with the same 11.

But no, he couldn’t resisting tinkering, dropping Donacien – who was terrific in the second half against Brentford – to make way for Nsiala to come back.

So we’ve ended up, yet again, with a big centre-back playing at right-back. Shades of McCarthy!

Gwion Edwards skips past a Craig Noone challenge.    Picture: STEVE WALLER     WWW.STEPHENWALLER.COMGwion Edwards skips past a Craig Noone challenge. Picture: STEVE WALLER WWW.STEPHENWALLER.COM

With Pennington playing there, I thought for a few minutes that we’d gone back in time to the Steve Whitton days, as Gerken launched his kicks on to Pennington’s head for him to flick on. (A reference for the more mature Ipswich fans there...)

MORE: Paul Hurst’s after-match thoughts

So, where does all of that leave us?

Well, surely we have to stick with Hurst, don’t we?

Is another manager going to come in and transform this squad into a competitive Championship unit? My view is that Hurst got us into this mess, so he should be expected to get us out of it.

I am hearing quite widespread rumours that the manager’s tenure could come to an end quite quickly unless things improve.

I would be very surprised if that turned out to be the case.

Look at Evans’s track record. He is anything but a trigger-happy owner.

He remained loyal to failing managers, to the point of utter frustration for the fans in the cases of Keane, Jewell and McCarthy.

I can’t bring myself to believe that he will lose faith with Hurst so quickly.

But who knows? Maybe he has changed his thinking on the subject. I really hope it doesn’t reach such a crisis point.

I still want Hurst to succeed.

But I am quickly losing faith, and I know I’m not the only one.

MORE: Town v Bolton, full match report

The idea of a permanent memorial for the great Kevin Beattie is a brilliant one.

He was, undoubtedly, the best and most-loved Ipswich Town player of all time.

When the EADT and Star asked fans to vote for their favourite player, there was little doubt who would come out on top.

There was also absolutely no argument when the results were announced either – everyone agreed that the Beat was simply the best.

But it’s much more than that.

As well as being a magnificent, world-class player, Beattie was also a warm, funny, loveable, and humble guy. Very much one of us. He was the hero, the legend, who was also every fan’s friend.

He deserves a permanent tribute.

Let’s hope it happens.

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