False dawns, promising starts, lots of time in Ireland and emerging kids - the story of Town’s past pre-seasons
PUBLISHED: 06:00 02 July 2019
With Ipswich Town just days away from the start of their pre-season schedule, ANDY WARREN looks at how the Blues have fared in summers past.
Town's pre-season began in Ireland for a second-successive year, with the squad spending a week at the Mick McCarthy-favoured Carton House hotel on the outskirts of Dublin.
The usual friendly followed, with Paul Anderson, Darren McQueen, Tyrone Mings and Jack Marriott netting in a 4-0 victory over Shelbourne, before a 0-0 draw with West Ham at Portman Road in which McCarthy played a different side in either half.
Wins at Colchester (3-0) and Gillingham (2-0) followed, with Marriott, Frank Nouble and Alex Henshall notable scorers, before Balint Bajner netted in a 1-1 draw at Leyton Orient and celebrated wildly in front of the Ipswich fans.
The unbeaten summer of 2014 was notable for the emergence of young talent, with Teddy Bishop the most impressive in pre-season before going on to make his mark as a teenager once the real football began.
The season started with a bang as the Blues beat newly-relegated Fulham 2-1 on the opening day, thanks to goals from Daryl Murphy and David McGoldrick, but were then winless throughout the rest of August.
Defeats by Reading and Norwich, draws with Birmingham and Derby and a cup exit at Crawley duly followed, leaving Ipswich 19th in the Championship at the end of the month.
How it finished
The Blues of course went on to finish sixth, having been firmly in the automatic promotion race at the turn of the year, before losing out in the play-offs to rivals Norwich City.
Another summer, another trip to Carton House.
This time Ipswich scored six against Shelbourne in their opening fixture at Tolka Park, before an enjoyable trip to Germany to take on friends Fortuna Dusseldorf.
That game ended in a 4-3 victory for the German side, but that mattered little as the bonds of friendship were strengthened further.
It was then back to England for a round of local games against Cambridge (3-2), Peterborough (0-0) and Colchester (2-3) before a home clash with FC Utrecht ended 1-1.
Ipswich and the Dutch side could meet again at this summer's Interwetten Cup in Germany.
Pre-season was up-and-down for the Blues but the start to the next campaign was impressive.
McCarthy's men put the concession of two stoppage-time goals at a Brentford firmly behind them to win their next three games, setting up a top-of-the-table clash with Brighton at Portman Road.
The Blues came from two down to draw level, but were undone by Tomer Hemed's goal which took the Seagulls top.
How it finished
The Blues ended the campaign seventh, having been in touch with the play-off places throughout without ever really looking like crashing into the promotion places.
Same again. This time, though, the game with Shelbourne only resulted in a 2-1 win for the Blues thanks to goals from Brett Pitman and Freddie Sears.
From there it was back to Britain for games at Barnet (0-1), Colchester (1-0), Cambridge (1-1) and Charlton (0-0) before a 2-1 loss at home to Belgian side Royale Union Saint-Gilloise in the final warm-up game.
McCarthy was often open in his disdain for pre-season contests, with this set of games as uninspiring as the season which would ultimately follow.
A good 4-2 home win over Barnsley and a debut hat-trick from Grant Ward created plenty of optimism, before a home loss to Stevenage in the cup just three days later dented that.
McCarthy's Blues would win just one more game in August, ending the month 11th.
How it finished
A truly forgettable season for Ipswich Town.
The campaign ended with just five wins in the final 22 games and also included another cup humbling, this time at the hands of Lincoln on national television.
The 16th-place finish was the club's worst in 58 years.
Another trip to Ireland but this time, rather than a reunion with sparring partners Shelbourne, it was a game with Drogheda United to kick things off for Ipswich.
They scored five in that game, another four against Southend and then three more at Peterborough on a bizarre evening in which the contest was played in two 60-minute halves.
Four of those goals were scored by new signing Joe Garner, as optimism grew, before he scored another in the 1-0 win at Colchester.
Things were looking good.
Then there was an almighty gulp as McCarthy's side lost 6-1 at League One Charlton, with the Town boss branding his side as 'embarrassing and disgraceful'.
That loss to the Addicks was swiftly cast aside as McCarthy's men won their first five games of the season before defeats to Fulham and QPR set the tone for an inconsistent campaign.
How it finished
A finish of 12th doesn't in any way tell the story of Ipswich's 2017/18 season.
That tale is all about the erosion of the relationship between McCarthy and the club's fans, which resulted in toxic atmospheres and the former Town boss walking out in the middle of April, having already stated he would depart at the end of the season.
What a whirlwind summer this was.
Paul Hurst started work in the middle of June and, prior to signing 12 players and the sales of Adam Webster, Martyn Waghorn and Joe Garner, convinced owner Marcus Evans to cancel a booked and paid for trip to Ireland and book a visit to Spain in its place.
The week-long trip to Alicante included a 1-0 behind-closed-doors friendly victory over Kilmarnock, before Hurst was left less-than-impressed by his side's 2-0 loss at Braintree when back on home soil.
Victories by a single goal at Crawley, Barnet and MK Dons followed, as new signings dribbled in, before the final pre-season game against West Ham ended in a 2-1 defeat but offered plenty of promise as young players impressed.
Things were looking up when Gwion Edwards took just five minutes of his Ipswich debut to open his account in the 2-2 draw against Blackburn, as the season began with great optimism.
However, a loss at Rotherham and than a League Cup exit at Exeter followed as cracks began to show, with the Blues showing some promise but ending August in the bottom three and with just two points to their name.
How it finished
Hurst was sacked in October with just one win to his name and, while performances did improve, replacement Paul Lambert only managed four further wins as the Blues were relegated to the third tier with a whimper.
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