Two-time Zimbabwe international striker Macauley Bonne was released by his hometown club Ipswich Town at the age of 14, having spent six years in the Blues’ academy. At the time of his release, Bonne was deemed too small to make an impression further up the youth levels. Bonne was forced to work his way back up the professional leagues in England, and had a particularly prolific spell at National League side Leyton Orient – scoring 45 times in 90 appearances – earning him a lucrative move to Championship side Charlton Athletic.
After a strong first season with Charlton, he moved to fellow London-based Championship side QPR in a £3m deal. Bonne scored just three goals in 34 first team appearances, meaning the Hoops were amenable to Ipswich Town’s approach this summer to take him back to Portman Road on a season-long loan. Bonne was one of the first recruits by Ipswich boss Paul Cook, who has overseen a seismic overhaul of the first team squad, bringing in 19 new faces.
Bonne was brought in to spearhead the Ipswich attack alongside last season’s League One top scorer Joe Pigott, as well as former Barnsley forward Conor Chaplin – another summer signing from the Championship. Despite not starting on the opening day of the season, Bonne has gone on to score four goals in his opening five appearances, bagging himself the Player of the Month and Goal of the Month awards for August. He was also called up to the Zimbabwe national squad for the international break at the end of August, but UK government restrictions prevented him from travelling to join up with the Warriors’ squad to face Ethiopia in their 2022 World Cup qualifier.
Although Bonne is showing fine form, the same cannot be said for the rest of the Ipswich team. Paul Cook’s men have picked up just three points from their first six games, leaving them firmly in the League One relegation zone.
It is true that League One is becoming an increasingly tougher division to play in year-on-year. As more former Championship and Premier League teams fall into the third tier, the calibre of players and weight of expectancy rises, with no loose games whatsoever. The term ‘loose’ has connotations in all manner of industries. While a loose screw in the building trade has more of a negative connotation, a loose slot machine is viewed more positively due to its propensity to pay out more regularly. This is utilised in the same way in the football world; a loose game is deemed an easy three points from the opposition. Unfortunately for Paul Cook, Ipswich are one of the teams to beat in 2021/22, and their opponents will raise their game week in, week out.
Town and Bonne started the new League One campaign as the favourites to win the title and secure a return to the Championship after a three-year absence. Those odds have drifted hugely in recent weeks, although opposing managers have already said that the Blues will be difficult to stop once the new-look squad has gelled.
How long the club’s hierarchy gives it to gel is the number-one question on the lips of Ipswich supporters at present, many of whom have questioned Cook’s tactics and the make-up of his coaching staff of late. With the club under new American ownership since April, the ambition is to return to the Championship as soon as possible and kick on towards the EPL. Whether Cook is the man to guide them there remains to be seen. By contrast, Bonne is certainly the flavour of the month among most Ipswich supporters as “one of their own”.
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