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No Palace Revolution

No Palace Revolution

If I woke up yesterday with a self-inflicted hangover (I only got to bed at 3.45 a.m.), the one I am suffering from today was caused by a bunch of headless chickens. While our players put in a little more effort than they had done on Saturday, they still lack the brains seriously to trouble the opposition.

Of course, SEB did score, providing us with a glimpse of what he was doing so effortlessly when his Championship goals helped us to promotion at the end of the 2008-9 season. Chesting down a Stearman free kick, he turned and shot: perfect! Even so, by then I had filled my notebook with references to his failure to do exactly that over the course of this (and previous) games.

If only Davis`s screamer from a distance had hit the back of the net instead of the post, it might have given the players the boost they needed. Although he made mistakes (who in the team does not lose possession or mishit/misplace passes?), at least he tried, was capable of beating a man and of making ground.

Searching for any other positive thing to say about our play, I can only point to the welcome return of O`Hara. He replaced Sako in the 60th. minute and immediately made an impact. At last, we had a bona fide playmaker on the pitch, one with the vision and the skill to assist our forwards ... but are they operating on the same wavelength?

Of the others, only Sako showed flashes of skill and application. Crosses still go begging, however. And, he is no longer the ace he used to be, as opposition managers detail two defenders to marshal him. He also has a tendency to over-complicate, sometimes ignoring a better, more direct option. In the 49th. minute, for example, he beat his man at the corner post but instead of driving into the box and shooting, he turned back and the opportunity vanished.

To go to a WW game at the moment is like watching the Groundhog Day film. You know that we are unlikely to score, that we will lose possession and misplace passes and that we will let in a goal or two. It`s the certainty of it all that takes away the enjoyment. Where there`s no hope, there`s no tension. I rallied a little after SEB`s goal but it would have registered as a slight blip on the cardiograph. It would have helped had we pressurised CP a little more effectively.

What has happened to the team over the course of the past three months? While we did lose to CP at home on 2 October, we completely outplayed them in the first half. Indeed, we started brightly yesterday and, although we did not look like scoring (Davis`s effort apart), we were holding CP for the first quarter of the game. The crowd was in good voice too. Then, CP scored and it all fell apart.I wouldn't worry so much if we were making progress but we've gone backwards ... a long way!

Whatever one thinks about individual players, collectively the team is capable of much better performances than this. So, who is to blame? The easy answer is that they have lost confidence and that in trying to avoid error make it more certain that they will commit them. Alternatively, one might argue that SS has addled their brains by trying to impose an alien system on them. If so, the charitable conclusion is that it has confused them. The cynical view is that they are deliberately sabotaging their manager`s efforts.

Is it the manager`s fault? As a person, he seems aloof and, it is said, rather abrasive. This suggests that he might have alienated players by trying to change the system too abruptly and paying too little regard to the tender feelings of a squad traumatized by relegation. Optimistic bloggers point to the time it takes to revolutionize a team`s mode of play, but how long does it take? How many hours have they spent on the training ground at Compton struggling to come to grips with notions which are easy enough to grasp and only a little more difficult to execute. After all, our squad sits on (or very near) the top of a very broad pyramid of footballers. Surely, they have proved their ability to accommodate new ideas.

Is the board to blame? Many of us have pointed out weaknesses in the team, ones which have remained unresolved. Once again, our lack of pace and power at the back was apparent yesterday and if one might argue that Ward and Foley will not often meet such a tricky pair of wingers in the Championship, they regularly are found wanting. While we have bought players, the money has not always been used effectively, and gaps remain. Why have we not recruited a new central defender, a full back or two and a striker?

Of course, I want the club to remain financially viable and not take the Pompey route to destruction. However, the board's over-cautious actions (I`m being charitable here) are taking us down an equally disastrous path. Going on past experience, the board will not free up all the money available to us to remedy the situation in this window.

And, if money has to be used wisely (and it should), why have we spent it on the wrong set of priorities. Why did we earmark millions of pounds to ground improvements before we had built a team capable of attracting the crowds necessary to fill the stadium. It`s not as if ours is sub-standard, an impression reinforced by the experience of viewing the more basic facilities at places like Crystal Palace, Fulham and QPR. At times, one wonders if Mr. Morgan, our chairman, has a hidden, non-footballing agenda. He bought the club for nothing under the promise to spending £40m. on players. When one extracts money he has made from TV rights, parachute payments, sales and property developments, how close to that figure has he got?

Well, we shall soon see because the board has to act quickly and decisively while we have the opportunity to do something about it. Specifically, it has to back the manager and give him the funds necessary to bring in players capable of working to his plans ... and get rid of those unwilling or unable to adapt. Alternatively, it has to sack him because he clearly has failed to get the current crop of players to carry out his instructions.

Critics might argue that it would mean further delay because the new manager would have to start from scratch, assessing and evaluating the squad before making decisions on tactics and personnel. If so, why has MM had such an instant impact on the fortunes of Ipswich? There comes a point when the only possible course is a fresh start. Reluctantly, because I bought into the Solbakken revolution, I am coming round to that point of view.

In the short term, we have to utilise our assets as best we can, including looking at replacements for the under-performing members of our first eleven. Fortuitously, the Luton match on Saturday provides us with a great opportunity to see how individuals like Batth and the returning Cassidy shape up. Even better, I would play Griffiths upfront with Cassidy because they complement each other. I watched the Hibs-v-Kilmarnock game over Christmas and Griffiths impressed me with his ball control, his vision, speed of thought and ability to bring his team-mates into play. We have criminally neglected his talents, perhaps on account of his youthful cockiness. We could do with a little swagger upfront.

If nothing is done, we are in for a rocky ride to the end of the season. At the moment it`s difficult to predict where we are going to get any points: you couldn`t even bank on us beating Bristol City and Barnsley. I`ve never felt more depressed about WW in my whole life. It`s no fun supporting them because the players do not seem to be making an effort. They appear to be going through the motions and they transmit this attitude to the fans, who either boo or, as in my case, merely cease to worry. Yesterday, my abiding concern for most of the second half was to get the dreadful spectacle over with as quickly as possible. Afterwards, I even turned down the opportunity of a drink at the nearby Clifton Arms: I just wanted to put the whole ghastly experience behind me.

This month is going to be one of the most critical ones in our club`s history and I fervently hope that the board makes the right decision. Welcome to the new year, if a depressingly familiar one!

Click here to join in the debate on the club forum.

Date:Wednesday January 2 2013
Time: 11:16AM


Southbank6o in someways i agree with your assessment of the players not trying but not as far as sacking the manager.Most of the players we have are donkeys who have not got aclue on how to pass a ball and this has been going on for the last three seasons under MM and TC.We need to back the manager give him the funds to buy players who are capable of playing the way SS wants them to and get rid of the dross.But thats just my opinion like why are we trying to get Berra to sign a new contract hes not that good drop him in the reserves and go and buy someone who can tackle with out grapling the guy to the ground.SS had watched those DVDs he knows we need three new defenders a striker and another midfielder but untill we get rid of some of the dross it aint going to happen no matter how much money we have.
02/01/2013 11:51:00
In a ideal world, paid performers (and well-paid ones) should follow the manager's intructions and execute them effectively. In this mythological world I would have no truck with player- power and would not select subversive elements in the team. But, we have to live in the real world and in that one I don't think that our chairman is going to release enough money to give SS a free hand. Short of that, we are always going to struggle. of course, Stale could rebuild the squad over a couple of years but we do not have the time for that. We need an instant fix if we are to avoid the real possibility of relegation and with this manager and with this squad of players it's on the cards. For that reason, I think that a new manager might be able to galvanise the team, especially if he is able to bring in one or two signings and play a more Championship-friendly game. It's a retrograde step but I am desperate.
02/01/2013 12:07:00
I actually agree, and I'm sure a lot of people do. I like Stale, but as he says himself, we are in crisis mode at the moment. Personally if I was the board I would demand that stale adopts a more championship style for the time being and he can change things more gradual, otherwise he would get the solsacken I don't think he is going to get the funds required to make enough changes to turn our fortunes around using the current style. Maybe with some loan deals? but that's a big maybe....
02/01/2013 12:36:00
I don't think he's going to be given megabucks to spend, for two reasons. Firstly, the assertion by JM that players have to leave before others arrive isn't spin. It's a reality. Of course we can't have an ever-expanding squad when only 15-or-so players ever feature in the first team. Part of the manager's job is balancing the number of players in with the (roughly) same amount leaving.Secondly, I don't think the M's are convinced SS can be trusted to spend the money AND make a difference to our (playing) fortunes. I think Morgan may well be experiencing deja-vu:He has a manager he's lost trust in, whilst being continually advised he needs to spend on bringing in new players. SM has always maintained that we aren't a 'firing club', that we give our managers time. He did that with Mick, but didn't 'back' him in last January's window before sacking him.SS himself has admitted that he can't go on losing games indefinitely and keep his job. If things don't improve during this month, I think that will be that. The transfer window will have closed by then, of course, so a new bod would be left to work with the staff we have.Ironically, if Mick does make a swoop on us and takes some of his favourites to tractorland, then maybe SS would benefit from those monies being made available to him. Anyway, the revolution has come to a grinding halt. Survival is now this season's priority.One last point on Griffiths. He doesn't want to play for us. I'm not sure just how clear he needs to make that.
02/01/2013 13:06:00
Well, there's a market for everything and everyone if the price is right. As the current priority is to bring in new players, we should sell off (or teminate contracts by mutual consent) players surplus to requirements, for whatever reasons. And we can do it straight away, aware that we will only have them on the books until the end of the month. Naturally, I would prefer an instant deal but we have the funds to accommodate the purchase of desperately needed recruits in the meantime. Regarding Griffiths, he has made it plain that he would rather be at Hibs but initially that was not his fault. We did treat him badly or, at least, not manage him properly. I get the feeling that neither MM nor SS tolerate dissent, even a slight difference of opinion. I wonder how much SS's view of Griffiths was clouded by TC's word in his ear.Yet, Griffiths is our player until the end of the season when he can go to Hibs if he likes. Until then SS (or whoever ... and a new manager might have a better chance) should have an honest exchange of views with him and hopefully get the lad to reproduce his Hibs form for us. By all accounts SS has sent a scout to watch him so it must be in his mind.
02/01/2013 13:22:00
And now Sako is injured... along with just about all of our new signings. On a positive note, it's good to see JOH back in action and contributing.
02/01/2013 14:08:00
Will JOH get to start against Blackburn?
02/01/2013 15:09:00
Southbank60 - good blog, agree with some of your coments but the new stand is built -time to move on, has for Jez or Morgan I think most people know my thoughts - right or wrong. Blow is a copy of an email I have sent to Tim Nash regarding his question? regarding now and the doddle, bhatti and 3rd/4thdiv era. Hi Tim, In answer to your question on your twitter page non of it is relevant, that's our problem! We keep looking backwards, doddle, the bhatti and the 3rd/4th div is all in the past, our problems are now - today! And that's were we should be placing all our energy on, trying to help the club find a solution for today not keep looking at the past - it just stirs up unwanted trouble (something the E&S are good at) I believe that the MM Mindset is still at the club (this was proven by Matt Murrey saying he was pleased that the gaffer had his first win at blues), all those concerned need to remind the players that Mick McCarthy is no longer manager! And if they cannot accept that then they need to go A.S.A.P, we also need our local media to stop criticizing the club at every opportunity wether it's founded or not, we the fans know what's going on, we don't need to be reminded that the unmentionables beat us 5.1 (they didn't by the way - we beat ourselves by not turning up), what we do need is positive comments that will help the club to move forward, for example I have noticed more than once that on the E&S web page whenever there is an insignificant story about the club that won't open a debate the chance is rarely there to comment, but has soon as Jez or Stale make a comment that might stir things up a bit all of a sudden the comments area is open? And the idiots come out of the funny farms. Anyway enough of that rubbish, we need to find a way out of this mess and I believe (I wish I could talk to Stale) that changes have to be made to the team line up by bringing in some of our younger players mixed with some of the more experienced players, the likes of Doherty who is getting rave reviews at Bury, Cassidy likewise at Tranmere, I was going to say Griffiths but I think is mind is set on staying at Hibs, young Danny Batth should be given a chance he has had too long on the bench, McAlinden should be given a chance (unless we sell him to Everton and if we do that's a disgrace, why have an academy just to groom for other teams), Gorman (good enough for Irelands first team but not ours?), Zeli all these players could be given a chance - lets face it the seasoned pro's ain't doing it. So to selection: Goalie: one of three, Ikeme, Henns or De Vries, Defence: Doherty, Johnson, Batth and Margreitter (new left back needed): M/F: Peszco/Forde, O'Hara (Capt),Tongo/Henry, Boukari/Davis, Strikers: two of Sako, Cassidy, Sig, SEB, Nouble, Doyle, McAllindon. If any players are injured replace like for like, I believe and always will that man for man we have one of the best squads in the championship and laugh if you like better than some in the premiership. The problem has nothing to do with style of play, tactics, manager, etc, any footballer at any level should be able to pass to his own player, tackle or have a shot - my old man (god bless him) used to say -when you see the whites of the posts or the goalies eyes -hit the bugger hard an low! If it goes in great, if not it might take a deflection anyway, maybe we need someone from outside of the club to have a talk to the players to find out what's up, some times an arm around the shoulder does more good than a pay rise or a rollicking. We could bring in a new manager! Would it change things? Maybe, maybe not because whoever came in he would still have the same players that Stale has got to work with, and you know we have had 5 managers in 12 years or looking at it another way - 6 years because Mick was hear for 6 yrs, we need consistency, has you rightly pointed out the other day MM had 3 yrs to get us up - Stale has had half a season, and remember this after doddle left Mick had to build his own team of which Stale is feeling it now having to select from MMs old team, that shouldn't matter because they should still be good enough to win this league, maybe it's the dip in wages that is their beef! Regards. P.S: I realize that 8 of the players I have mentioned in the team selection are either injured or coming back from injury - that's Stales problem getting a settled team! and until he does nobody can judge him fairly, look at Tuesday two players out before a ball is kicked! Just some of my thinking, might be wrong,
02/01/2013 16:03:00
Good post, johnwolf, and not merely because you agree with some of my comments.
02/01/2013 16:23:00
So apparently the players are behind the manager. I dont understand why they bother putting these message up on the website. Do they really think we will say "oh ok" i mean really if they were upset with the manager would they be putting up a message that says "the manager sucks, we hate him". Pointless pandering!
02/01/2013 17:15:00
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