During Monday’s defeat to Leicester, David Nugent took his tally of goals scored at Portman Road up to seven in six games. An even more frustrating statistic for Ipswich fans is that Nugent has now scored nine goals in ten matches against the Tractor Boys overall. Is there anything to suggest his scoring record could be more than a coincidence? Even though the Leicester striker is a reasonably consistent goal scorer there must be something about him that puts him above others when it comes to beating Ipswich.
Seasoned football fans are all too familiar with the concept of a bogey team but bogey players are harder to find. Throughout the years I have been following Ipswich, on the whole they have always struggled to get good results from matches against Watford and always struggled to keep Nugent out. I remember during the 07/08 season Ipswich seemed impossible to beat at home and ended the season with the best home record in the Championship. The Blues only Home loss of that season was to Watford and the Ipswich team played far worse in that game in comparison to how they had in their other 22 home matches. The season before that Ipswich were thrashed at home to Preston in what was the start of Nugent’s impressive scoring record at Portman Road.
It is always a struggle to put forward a logical reason as to how bogey teams are formed and how negative results generally are maintained throughout many years. However, there are a few common suggestions that could explain these trends. The most common theory is that bad results against one side in particular start to happen just as a coincidence, then the players become aware of the history and as a result this has a negative psychological effect, which causes poor performances against this bogey side for years to come. Chances are results will go badly against the occasional side in an unexpected fashion and there are probably some good statistics to make this a reasonable theory.
On the other hand, I find myself thinking how many of the Ipswich players were around when these bad results first started to happen and are they really aware of these results?
I’d bet anything most players don’t care enough about their clubs past to find themselves pondering over whether history will repeat itself. Even if they were made aware of previous statistics, any player worth his salt wouldn’t find himself lost in thought about bogey teams or players during a game. I find it hard to believe that in the recent game against Watford the Ipswich defenders were struggling just because they were having flashbacks of previous encounters.
That being said, it is hard to offer an alternative reasoning as to why these trends occur. However, one idea I have heard recently seems to offer an interesting explanation. Seasons, managers and players come and go frequently at any football club but the one thing that often seems to stick around is a playing style. West Brom have been through several managers and many players over the last few years but have always been known to play with a certain philosophy and style. The same could be said with teams such as Stoke, who have always been known to be a physically strong side and Arsenal who have always been known as a more fragile but technically gifted side.
It could well be that certain sides play with a certain tactical philosophy every season and this seems to counter another team’s style particularly well. The same theory could be applied to players. David Nugent has always found his way through the Ipswich defence but it is an Ipswich defence that has been lacking a strong leader for so many years. Maybe teams can only break the supposed bogey team curse by changing their playing style. It may be a stab in the dark but it is an interesting explanation as to why these trends always occur on some level for almost every team.