It is no surprise to see Ipswich linked with so many defenders this week after so many dire defensive performances in the 2011/12 season.
Defensive problems have been all too familiar at Portman Road for years though. Even when the Ipswich team were reaching the play-offs it was with an all out attack “we will score more than you” philosophy and the teams weak point was at the back.
At the time when Jason de Vos and Richard Naylor were the Ipswich centre backs everyone slatted them but in hindsight they were probably the last half decent partnership we had at centre back. Neither de Vos nor Naylor were anything special but they were much better than anyone who has come to the club since they left. Jewell appears to be searching for a centre back to partner either Damien Delaney or Tommy Smith next season and filling that role will be a crucial part of the promotion push next season.
Joel Ward has been linked before but it looks as though he may well be off to Leeds this summer to join his former friend and centre back partner Jason Pearce. It could be that Paul Jewell is forced to look elsewhere for a strong centre back and it has been rumoured that he has a number of players lined up, should he fail to get his top target. Dundee United defender Gavin Gunning has been linked with a £900,000 move to Portman Road and at 21 years of age he certainly has a lot of potential.
There is always a huge risk in buying from the Scottish Premier League though; teams like Middleborough failed massively after buying a large amount of players from Scotland and many believe that even the top players from Scotland would struggle in The Championship. Another young defender that has been linked is Andrew Hughes, a 19 year old who currently plays for Blue Square Premier side Newport. It is a similar story with Hughes, he is young and his ability to cope in The Championship is completely unknown but it is good to see some young players being linked with Ipswich.
The other two defenders Ipswich have been linked with do have experience in The Championship. Anthony Gerrard currently at Cardiff has played a decent amount of games and the 26 year old would supposedly set Ipswich back around £350,000. Gerrard would be a relatively cheap option for Ipswich and would be a safe choice.
However, I think most fans would rather see Jewell take a gamble rather than sign a safe option though as that would be better than buying another average player similar to Delaney. The other player linked is Coventry City’s Richard Keogh who is 25 years old and has been one of Coventry’s best players over the last two seasons; winning Player of the Year awards both seasons. Nobody is sure how much Keogh would cost exactly as there are a lot of variables to consider given Coventry’s recent relegation and financial struggles but the defender would certainly be in Town’s price range. Interestingly, Keogh has been dubbed as a natural leader and that is exactly what Ipswich need in their back line right now.
Hopefully things will move along soon on the transfer front and Ipswich will start making some progress with defensive signings. All we currently know is that Jewell wants to sign two central defenders. It is likely he will be looking for an experienced leader along with a rising star with a lot of potential. If all goes well the back line should be looking a lot stronger next season and we could well see a defensively strong side for once.