Sunday Snap: Lambert v Barton analysis, Manchester United inspiration, envious glances, a rogue Canary and a fond(ish) farewell
PUBLISHED: 06:00 06 October 2019
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We look back at the goings on around Ipswich Town's 1-0 victory over Fleetwood Town this weekend.
And then there were two…
Another game unbeaten and another step closer to achieving the best start to a season in Ipswich Town history.
That's 11 league games unbeaten now - three short of the 14 Sir Bobby Robson's greats of 1980/81 managed at the start of a year which ended in UEFA Cup glory.
Avoiding defeat once again, coupled with Coventry's loss at Rotherham, also means the Blues are now one of only two remaining unbeaten sides throughout the 91 clubs in England's top four divisions.
They're keeping pretty decent company too, given the only other unbeaten side are European champions Liverpool.
Centre of attention
As expected, Fleetwood Town v Ipswich Town was a fiery affair.
But it was perhaps surprising that so much of the fire came on the pitch, rather than between the two managers.
Joey Barton stoked the fire further on gameday as he proclaimed the current crop of Ipswich players to be 'as bad a group as Ipswich have had in a long time' and mocked the Blues' post-match celebrations with fans in recent weeks.
Lambert said pre-match that he didn't expect any aggro on the touchline and, in the main, that's exactly how it played out.
There was a warm embrace at kick-off before the two men kept their distance on the opposite corners of their respective technical areas. When Barton was complaining to the fourth official, Lambert was on the far left of his box. When the Town manager was having his say, Barton remained in his seat under the peak of his black baseball cap.
There were a few wry smiles exchanged while the Town boss did briefly get into it with Barton's assistant, Clint Hill, in the wake of Cole Skuse being wrongly booked for a tackle in which he clearly got the ball.
The Town bench were incensed by referee Carl Boyeson's decisions not to award penalties to Jon Nolan (looked like one to me) and Kayden Jackson (definitely a foul but the contact was outside the box) but that anger was directed at the fourth official rather than the opposite bench. There was a warm handshake at the end, too.
Even if things had got a bit heated, the hard-looking bouncer/security man (bald, suited, booted, tied and ear-pieced) standing between the two benches would have sorted them both out in any case.
A famous stop
Lambert and his squad broke from their usual routine by spending two nights away in the lead up to this game, leaving Suffolk on Thursday to break the back of the 280-mile journey.
They stayed at a hotel in Preston but headed into Manchester for training after booking sessions at The Cliff, the famous old training base of Manchester United.
The Red Devils still own the site, with their women's team using the facilities daily along with many of the club's academy sides.
It was there, in Salford, that George Best made his name and where Sir Alex Ferguson masterminded the treble-winning side of 1999.
It's also where Lambert and his staff put the finishing touches to the now legendary Fleetwood Town-beating game plan of 2019.
Fox in the box
Any discussion of Jackson generally involves his searing pace, but it's his predatory instinct which has helped Ipswich Town to victory in their last two games.
Two games, two identical goals - both following up spilled Luke Garbutt free-kicks against both Tranmere and Fleetwood.
They weren't simple finishes, either. He needed composure to calmly lift the ball over Scott Davies of Tranmere and showed good technique to finish past Alex Cairns of Fleetwood.
It's a good habit for the club's leading scorer to be getting into.
There will have been some envious glances towards Fleetwood's big screen before and during yesterday's game.
It's been erected in front of an area of Highbury Stadium where there are no stands, with a social club and some portacabins taking up around a quarter of the pitch's perimeter.
The screen, at least 20 feet tall and wide, had a visible clock and a team-sheet throughout the game, keeping spectators informed, while there were video packages and messages prior to kick-off.
It's something Portman Road is missing. Hopefully one day.
These boots are made for talking
If I asked you to guess who the only Ipswich player to wear predominately black boots was, who would you say?
If you offered Skuse as your answer, you'd be correct.
He wore black boots with a blue Nike tick in the warm-up before changing into black and orange for the game, but they are as black as you're going to get on the pitch yesterday.
The entire Ipswich staff wear black boots and there was once a time when that's all you'd find on the feet of players.
I like coloured boots, but mainly because it highlights the traditionalists still in the game like Skuse (and David McGoldrick from Ipswich Town's past).
These days, and this makes me sound like an old man, all colours are on display from white (Luke Chambers) grey/silver and plenty of fluorescent yellow.
James Norwood's white, pink and yellow effort is nice but my favourites, aside from Skuse's, are Luke Woolfenden's blue number.
Amongst the sea of blue shirts and winter coats was one yellow shirt.
On the day the Canaries lost 5-1 at home to Aston Villa, in front of the watching Prince William, Kate and the family no less, this poor soul (surely a stag) was made to wear the colours of the arch enemy.
We can only assume this man will be waking up this morning tied to the Blackpool Tower.
Ha'Way the Lad
This seems a good opportunity to say goodbye to a man who has served Ipswich Town well over the last four years.
Grant Pringle, the club's digital media manager, is departing for Newcastle United at the end of this coming week, with his last game the EFL Trophy match with Gillingham on Tuesday.
As a man he carries an overwhelming 'grumpy' aura but his warm and engaging social media voice has been a vital part of the club's efforts to reconnect with supporters and he has gone above and beyond on a number of occasions to help fans when they've needed it.
He's achieved global success, too, as the driving force behind James Norwood's all-conquering wrestling GIFs (although he insists they are in fact videos). His legacy will live on, with another masterpiece due to be unleashed the next time James Norwood finds the net.
But his heart belongs to Playford Road, where we have spent many a wet and windy Monday together watching the Under 23s in action.
The proud Inverness Caledonian Thistle fan has seen a lot during his time in Suffolk, including two of the worst seasons in the club's history, but he was present for one of its finest hours - the day Larsen Toure popped a free-kick in the top corner during an Under 23 clash with Bristol City. A true 'I was there moment' which you can watch above.
All the best, Grant.