Following COVID-19, budgets around the EFL are expected to be tighter than ever before. For always budget-conscious Ipswich Town, they may just get a little more conscientious about who they bring in and for what type of money.
'The black hole, will someone please think of the black hole!'
The looming salary cap, of course, may also play a part.
Players signed now, before any cap comes in, will count at £125k of their contract value instead of their 'true contract rate'. However, under proposals, players over 21 will be classed
as senior players of which it is proposed, you can only have 20.
So, all signings must be measured, maybe more than ever before.
Wages. age and of course how much playing time they will get. must all factor into decisions.
Would it be wise for a club to have 9 'senior players that end up playing only a fraction of the games and blocking the progression of the younger players? Of course not.
Is that an effective use of the playing budget?
So, what areas should Town be looking to strengthen ready for a second season in League 1?
What may surprise some is the fact that I don't want many signings and I certainly don't want any unnecessary luxury signings.
What do I mean by that?
Well, if budgets are going to be tight, do we need a new goalkeeper?
Isn't Holy, Wright and Pryzbeck enough? Would the money spent on a second senior goalkeeper not be better used to increase our positioning in the hunt for a new winger etc?.
Budgets being tight is one thing, however frustrating, from a fan's perspective. But, Unnecessary use of the budget is unforgivable in my book.
Looking at Town's season last year and the personnel currently within the squad, I believe Paul Lambert will want to play a 3-4-1-2 formation next season. A formation he played 11 times last season.
With that in mind and by using stats available on great sites such as who scored . com and transfermarket . Com here are three, yes just three, areas I would like Lambert to strengthen:
Priority number 1
Ipswich Town F.C scored 46 goals last season. Only one team inside the top 10 scored less. A major component behind that was the lack of creativity and goals from midfield.
Our midfield chipped in
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Comparing that to title winners Coventry ( we want to win the title right?!)
That is a whopping 110% increase on assists. However, we can take heart from the one more goal. But this wasn't supposed to happen from this group of players right?
More is so desperately needed. Especially from a midfield that on paper contains so much quality.
Simply put, our strikers fed off scraps.
Alan Judge can be a good player. At this level, a really good player. Last season, the Irish international scored 3 goals and had 4 of those 23 assists.
However, the position that is key to Lambert's 3-4-1-2 is the player behind the front two. It's a role Lambert had Wes Hoolahan occupy at Norwich and it is a role that served both player and club so well. Delivering back to back promotions.
So simply put, more needs to be delivered from that position. At times last year, you couldn't help but feel that. So, we hope that last season was just an 'off' year and not the start of a more serious decline.
As a club though, we must plan on a worst-case basis and be preparing a plan B. It is no good finding out it in the middle of October that we still are not getting the required production with the Transfer Window shut.
Finding a player who wants to receive the ball and turn and drive at opposition teams should 100% be the focus.
Get fans excited. Get opposing teams worried and get our front two some service.
Priority Number 2
The void left by recently departed winger, Luke Garbutt, will need to be filled.
41 Key passes (passes that lead to a shot )
Garbutt offered Town production and the ability to make things happen last season and was a major reason why we were a force between August-October
That will be missed this year unless the Town scouting department can find an answer the way they found an answer when Tom Lawrence replaced Ryan Fraser.
Personally, I'd like a permanent signing brought in, as the revolving door of players is starting to wear thin on the left side. But given the chance to watch a young exciting prospect terrorise defenders in England's third tier, who matches or exceeds Garbutt's production, will appease me somewhat. Albeit begrudgingly!
Priority Number 3.
Town conceded 36 goals last season. Only two teams in the top 10 conceded more (Peterborough and Wycombe-40). While not perfect, conceding 36 isn't the worst thing in the world...if you are scoring goals like Posh were.
Town, as we know, weren't, so I want them to make a statement with this signing. A young commanding defender who you can 'market' around, eventually partnering the backline with Woolfenden. A young player who, yes, still has learning to do but has the potential to match Adam Webster or Matt Clarke and get fans excited about the future.
A back three is a perfect set up for a young defender. It allows the young player cover in front of them with the Wing back and a player behind them to cover any mistakes or lapses in concentration young players have from time to time.
The middle role is perfect for Captain Luke Chambers, at this time of his career, and with his experience. The experienced veteran can sit behind the two young defenders and talk them through the game. It also plays to Chambo's strengths and hides his weakness which is a win-win.
What the papers suggest
Reports suggest moves for either Cornell or Remi Matthews.
Both would be good goalkeepers and may be an upgrade over Tomas Holy. However, Holy has just signed a new deal so the Giant goalkeeper isn't going anywhere, and as I have mentioned in previous articles on this website and earlier in this piece, Holy, Wright and Pryzbeck are more than adequate in this division. If they are not Tomas Holy shouldn't have been handed a new deal.
The fact of the matter is this...
You can only play one goalkeeper, so should the club bring in a second senior goalkeeper, you are paying one man to simply sit. Taking those funds (however small) away from other areas while also blocking the pathway for our young goalkeepers.
Luxury signing at a time when luxury can't be afforded.
Would a third striker be welcome? of course. However, similar to the goalkeeper this shouldn't be a priority.
Norwood, Jackson and a fully fit Freddie Sears should be enough firepower in League 1.
Ben Morris and Ben Folami should now be looking to make a step forward towards first-team action at this point in their career.
If the club views the three players as not 'cutting it' then I have to question why the three players remain at the club. In the case of Freddie Sears in particular.
If Sears, Morris and Folami aren't good enough, then the club should be looking to offload them.
Don't get me wrong, if you find the budget allows for a striker AFTER you have brought in the three highlighted priorities, then fill your boots. Although, as with the goalkeeper, simply paying someone to sit on the bench and get 15 minutes and an occasional start is not good use of the budget.
Next season, Ipswich Town don't necessarily need to have the bigger budget, they simply have to make their budget work smarter.
Until next time