Ipswich Town v Doncaster Rovers:  ‘I wouldn't think there'd be too many clubs in the division who wouldn't want to swap squads with them’ – the opposition view

Ipswich Town have taken on the tag of this season's powerful new addition to League One.

Friday, 13th September 2019, 4:00 pm
Updated Friday, 13th September 2019, 4:05 pm
Paul Lambert, manager of Ipswich Town
Paul Lambert, manager of Ipswich Town

And - like Rovers - an unbeaten start to the season has suggested they will indeed be a force to be reckoned with in the third tier this term.

We spoke to Stuart Watson of the East Anglian Daily Times and Ipswich Star to get the lowdown on the Tractor Boys.

Q: What have you made to Ipswich's start to the season and how they have adapted to life in League One?

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SW: All things considered, when they went down in the manner they did in pretty sorry fashion, there is always the concern that there is a bit of a losing habit and a hangover to shake off. So to have started with six games unbeaten is obviously very good.

They were top of the league prior to the international weekend when they didn't have a game so everyone is hoping the momentum can continue really.

What has helped them adapt was having Paul Hurst last season and a bit of a change of direction from Mick McCarthy that the fans really wanted. It backfired quite spectacularly but his recruitment policy was to sign lower league all-stars, players that have done it in League One and Two.

So the squad is filled with players who are established at this level. So there was always the hope they would be okay this season and the squad is looking quite deep.

I wouldn't think there'd be too many clubs in the division who wouldn't want to swap squads with them.

Q: Is the expectation for an immediate return to the Championship? From what you've seen of the side and the opposition so far, how realistic is that?

SW: It's a club that hasn't played at this level since the 50s. The expectation has to be to go for promotion.

I don't think anyone went it to it thinking Ipswich were going to walk the league with 100 goals and 100 points but to finish outside the top six would be seen as a major failure with the squad that they've got.

You only have to look at the big clubs to have dropped into the level, like Leeds, both Sheffield clubs, Nottingham Forest and not everyone has bounced back straight away. Nobody was under any illusions it would be easy but the expectation is to go back up.

I think they've probably got more chance of doing so than I thought on the eve of the season when I would have said fifth or sixth. Paul Lambert said he wanted a deeper squad and the owner Marcus Evans has delivered on that. There's two players for every position now.

Q: How has Paul Lambert been received so far?

SW: Considering his Norwich background, no one knew how he'd be received. He admitted himself he toiled with the decision.

With Ipswich at such a low ebb when he came in, most fans put aside the Norwich history and saw him as an experienced manager which is exactly what they needed.

He's not put a step wrong in PR terms since - he's embraced the history of the club and the fans. He was tasked with getting people back through the turnstiles because attendances were dwindling.

There was a huge banner unfurled at the last home game of him mocked up as Rambo with the bandanna on, with Lambo written underneath.

That is how positively he has been received - because of the positive way he has addressed fans away from the football but also with the way he sets the team up to play on the front foot.

Q: What system and style of play does Lambert favour?

SW: He looks to try to attack teams from the off which is a departure from what the club had for so long under McCarthy. It's changed to 4-4-2 this season.

It was very much 4-3-3 when he first took over and he seemed wedded to that.

But the switch to 4-4-2 has purely been down to him having two top strikers - James Norwood who was signed from Tranmere as the joint leading goalscorer in English football along with Sergio Aguero, and Kayden Jackson, one of the Paul Hurst signings.

Jackson is lightning quick and Norwood has the physical presence so it's an old fashioned strike partnership. They're form and ability has forced Lambert's hand into playing them as a two up front.

Q: Who are the danger men?

SW: As well as Norwood and Jackson, Flynn Downes has probably been a standout so far.

He's one of several homegrown players to come through which is very much at the heart of the plan to get the club going again.

He's very tenacious - he was sent off for headbutting someone in a pre-season friendly and there were questions over his temperament, but he's really matured since that happened.

He looks like someone who has got a very bright future. He's an all action midfielder who gets stuck in but it is also very good on the ball as well.