TWENTY-one games into the season and there is a familiar look to the table for Ipswich Town fans.

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The Blues have 23 points heading into the busy Christmas period – three points less than previous boss Paul Jewell had at this stage of last season and just one less than his predecessor Roy Keane had amassed come this point of the 2010/11 campaign.

On both the aforementioned occasions, Town ended up finishing the season placed 15th in the Championship.

However, with real momentum being gained under new boss Mick McCarthy, there is hope that baby steps of progress can now finally be made at English football’s current longest-serving second tier club.

A point-and-half-per-game would see the Blues beat their finishing tally of 61 from last season. So far McCarthy’s record stands at two points-per-game, with a return of 16 points from a possible 24 only matched by second-placed Crystal Palace over the last eight matches.

“Both feelings can spread through the club pretty quickly; that negative feeling when you can’t get a result and that feel-good factor you get when you get wins,” said McCarthy, who inherited a side bottom-of-the-table and continues to insist that the goal continues to be simply avoiding relegation.

“Those feelings can permeate through the core of the club, through the management, the players, the fans and the press.”

Momentum, quite clearly, is key.

There have been so many false dawns at Ipswich Town over the last decade that many supporters are refusing to get carried away just yet. Keane lost just one match in the opening eight games of the 2010/11 season, while Jewell picked up 14 points from his first eight games in charge.

The hope is, however, that this latest revival in fortunes has more substance about it, with McCarthy’s average time spent in each of his previous managerial posts being nearly five years and owner Marcus Evans appearing to have loosened the purse strings is recent months.

Three of the Blues’ next four games are away from home (Leeds, Charlton and Wolves), with a home game against fellow strugglers Bristol City making up the matches that will conclude the rollercoaster calendar year of 2012.

But it will only be at the end of the January transfer window – when McCarthy begins to sort out the uncertainty surrounding loanees and contracts – that we will have a true indication as to whether the club are finally able to escape Groundhog Day.

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