Welcome to Singing The Blues Part One of the second season at Ipswich Town which will see us compete in the Championship after winning promotion last season by winning League One by 20 points.
With Promotion to the Championship I have a few options on how I approach the season and I have chosen the option which I think will offer me the bigger challenge by giving the players already at the club the chance to have a crack at this level by making minimum changes to the playing staff and avoiding bringing loan players in who could potentially make it easier to climb the table.
I want us to have to build from within, with any external transfers coming in to be well thought out with more emphasis on a more Soccernomics approach strengthening the side taking in to account statistical data and exploring undervalued markets after all we have the 2nd lowest wage budget in the League so we have to be prudent. I am not looking at trying to replicate Moneyball I am just trying to run the club in a way that I think is the right way for a club of our stature. I admire the Brentford approach just like I admire what Chris Wilder has done at Sheffield United.
I also want to do it by playing what I believe is entertaining football, last season we used a 4-1-3-2 formation with no wingers which I will use this season but in an ever changing tactical World I may change things up a bit in the future.
I don’t want us to have it all our own way by having an easy ride. I want us to have to work at grinding results out in the hope that it can feel a little more realistic and add some depth to the save.
After a short break it was time to get back to work and prepare for the season ahead and one of my first tasks was to meet with the board and discuss the expectations concerning the Clubs 5 Year Vision which is as follows :
- 2020-2021 Fight Bravely Against Relegation
- 2021-2022 Stay In The Championship
- 2022-2023 Stay In The Championship
- 2023-2024 Become An Established Championship Club
- 2024-2025 Remain An Established Championship Club
We have a Transfer Budget of £2.5m and a Wage Budget of £200,000 per week.
The board would like me to continue with the following club culture:
- Sign Players under 23 years of age
- Don’t Sign any player over 30 years of age
- Sign Players to make a profit
- Play Entertaining Football
I spent a long time looking at potential ways to improve the club through player recruitment
Leaving The Club
I decided that a number of players would leave the club with Freddie Sears being the most high profile who joined Sheffield Wednesday. Sears struggled last season with a long term injury and does not feature in my long term plans using the system that got us promotion. Sears would be number 5 in the pecking order if he stayed at the club so a move away is best for both parties.
Centre Back James Taylor is another senior player on the move the 31 year old had limited playing time last season and I am looking to bring in a younger Defender who has better ball playing attributes. On loan left Wing Back Luke Garbutt returns to his parent club after spending last season as back up to Myles Kenlock. Gwion Edwards, Jordan Robert’s and Danny Rowe all left the club in January freeing up some valuable wages and Goalkeeper Bartosz Bialkowski who also spent last season out on loan at Barnsley also left for pastures new.
A number of our Under 23 squad who are 20 years old and not in my immediate plans for the season ahead have all been made available for loan moves to give them some valuable game time.
Demetri Mitchell 🏴 (1st Team Squad)
My first signing of the summer was Left Wing Back Demetri Mitchell from Manchester United for £575,000. The 23 year old spent last season on loan at Oxford United. I had him scouted for a good 6 months and decided that he should fit nicely in to our system and compete with Myles Kenlock for a starting position on the left side of our defence after Luke Garbutts loan ended. Mitchell comes in on an initial 2 year contract on £9.75k per week.
Alfie Jones 🏴 (1st Team Squad)
My second signing was the free transfer of Southampton Centre Back Alfie Jones after his contract expired whilst spending last season on loan at Gillingham. Jones who is 22 years old joins the first team squad and looks to be a good addition. Jones can also play in the Defensive Midfield strata and joins the club on a 3 year contract earning £4.5k per week.
Ethan Galbraith 🇬🇧 (Under 23 Squad)
The young Irish Midfielder was available on a free transfer from Manchester United and was signed by our Head Of Youth Development Bryan Klug who snapped up the 19 year old who a lot of interest was being shown in him. Galbraith will go in to our Under 23 squad for the season ahead so I can monitor his development. I may look at introducing Galbraith to the first team scene in ths later part of the season ahead.
I have decided on a First Team squad size of a maximum 23 players and I am not looking at bringing in anyone else. I want to give the boys who got us promoted the chance to play in the Championship and hope they do themselves justice over the next few months ahead.
The First Team Squad
- Goalkeepers : Will Norris 🏴Tomas Holy 🇨🇿
- Wing Backs : (Left) Myles Kenlock 🏴 Demitri Mitchell 🏴
- Wing Backs : (Right) Kane Vincent-Young 🏴 Janoi Donacien 🇱🇨
- Central Defenders : Luke Chambers 🏴 Luke Woolfenden 🏴 Aristote Nsiala 🇨🇩 Alfie Jones 🏴
- Defensive Midfielders: Emyr Huws 🏴 Cole Skuse 🏴
- Central Midfielders : Teddy Bishop 🏴 Alan Judge 🇮🇪 Jon Nolan 🏴 Andre Dozzell 🏴 Idris El Mizouni 🇹🇳 Flynn Downes 🏴
- Forwards: James Norwood 🏴 Kayden Jackson 🏴 Will Keane🏴 Jack Lankester 🏴
You can see by looking at the squad above that we have a very strong English backbone which should stand us in good stead when the new Brexit rules come in to play. Oh did I just say Brexit…..? Sorry.
Our Pre-Season training camp took us up North and In to Scotland were we would play three friendly matches before heading back South to play our final warm up match. We took a squad of 35 players to our camp base which was located near Perth which included our 2 new signings and 12 players from our youth teams.
We did not have far to travel for our first game which was in Perth at McDiarmid Park against St.Johnstone. With both new signings Mitchell and Jones starting in our backline and it was our Left Wing Back Demetri Mitchell who gave us the lead after Jon Nolan picked the raiding Wing Back out with a delicious through ball. Second half goals from Will Keane and Jon Nolan along with an own goal gave us a steady 4-0 win.
Kayden Jackson and Luke Woolfenden both got on the scoresheet with a 2-1 win against Hamilton gave a further 11 players game time after I completely rotated our starting XI.
Our final game in Scotland was a 4-0 win against Dundee that saw Will Keane score a double and both Flynn Downes and James Norwood round the scoring off.
A 9-0 drubbing of AFC Sudbury rounded off our Pre Season preparations which had gone well but we all know that there is a major difference between friendly games and the real season.
Will our approach to the forthcoming season pay off or will we struggle to compete in what is a renowned tough League to play in ? This question will become a little clearer by the time my next blog post is released that will cover the first half of the Championship season.