Mark Heath: Saying sorry to Nsiala, Chambers and Lambert – and why Dobra should go out on loan
EADT and Ipswich Star sports editor Mark Heath hands out some apologies and gives his take on the Armando Dobra loan debate in his Ipswich Town column...
I owe a few people in the Ipswich Town business an apology.
As host of the Kings of Anglia podcast – check it out on all good podcast providers – I frequently find myself opining loquaciously about all matters Town and, in the run up to this season, I got a few things wrong.
I’ve never been so delighted to be proven incorrect, but I erred nontheless - so here are my apologies.
To Toto Nsiala, whom I gave a 1/10 chance of having an impact at Portman Road this season, essentially guaranteeing that he’d be leaving in the club in a pre-season piece, I apologise.
As it turns out, Nsiala has not only had an impact in Town’s successful start thus far, but he’s been one of the key rocks in the Blue foundations. The big centre-back has been superb, a totally different player to the one whom seemed so bereft of confidence last season.
It’s been brilliant to see such a transformation - and his motivation ‘to shut a few people up’ is clearly working. Toto, consider me silenced.
Next, skipper Luke Chambers. I have often said on the pod that Chambers is more a part of the problem at Town than he is the solution, citing his power at the club, advancing years and penchant for making a rick.
But, again, I am happy to be proved wrong so far. The 35-year-old – a mere youngster compared to your ageing, broken down writer, I should add – has looked reborn at right back, scoring some cracking goals, playing some unbelievable passes and generally leading from the front.
He is, and always has been, a superb captain. Again, fuelled by the desire to prove folks wrong and ‘shut out the noise’ – hence the fingers in the ears goal celebration – Chambers is certainly making me eat my words. Luke, I apologise – and long may your Indian summer continue.
And finally, the boss. I have voiced my concerns over Paul Lambert’s ability to adapt and learn from last season’s debacle frequently.
So far, so good - there’s a settled team, a consistent formation and style of play, and a spot at the top of the fledgling League One summit to go with it. The first manager of the month gong also looks pretty nice on the mantelpiece.
So, Paul, I apologise. Now, if you could all carry on making me look a mug until May, that would be tremendous.
- The transfer window SLAMS SHUT on Friday at 5pm. You have to say ‘slams shut’ otherwise you get your footy journalist card revoked, you know.
Over at Portman Road, where said window tends to close quietly, gently and without a fuss, the main source of excitement – not that the term really fits – is whether or not mercurial young talent Armando Dobra will go out on loan.
Lambert has said he still wants him to depart, despite some excellent displays off the bench and that rocket of a goal against Gillingham in the EFL Trophy last week.
Though he’s certainly capable of providing a serious spark off the bench, and I know many Town fans want to see him stay and play, I agree with the Town boss here.
Dobra is 19, and needs to play week in, week out, at a decent level.
Much as many think he should be doing that at Town, that’s just not going to happen enough to help his development, I fear.
If he can go out to a League Two club and play every week, while ‘getting some scars’ as then-Swindon boss Phil Brown memorably said of Luke Woolfenden’s spell with the Robins, then I think he’ll return to Portman Road a better player next season.
The evidence is already there - look at the good it did the aforementioned Woolfenden and Flynn Downes.
The only caveat is that it needs to be the right club, and location. A repeat, for example, of Tristan Nydam’s miserable time in Scotland, would be no use to any of those involved.
But Dobra is a future Town star, no doubt - and a loan will help polish his rough edges.
- Finally, I can’t take my leave this week without mentioning our new Ipswich Town sticker album, crafted in partnership with the club.
We launched it last week as the ‘first-ever official Town album’, but I’ve since been made aware that’s not the case - apparently there have been others in the past.
No matter, this will be the best-ever, trust me.
It’s been a lot of work, but the end product looks fantastic and features something for Town fans from every era.
Make sure you get yours!