Derek Davis picks a fight.. with himself

WHILE many people agree with chief football writer DEREK DAVIS' assertion that Ipswich's season is all but over, some Blues fans are looking for a more positive outlook so here Davis argues against himself and finds a way Town can make the top six.

Derek Davis

WHILE many people agree with EADT chief football writer DEREK DAVIS' assertion that Ipswich's season is all but over, some Blues fans are looking for a more positive outlook so here Davis argues against himself and finds a way Town can make the top six.

AS someone who loves a challenge this is one I can't resist.

It started with my considered piece on Monday when I stated that Town had no chance of reaching the top six.

My reasoning goes along the lines that the Blues look very mediocre are playing fairly mundane football and are struggling to beat even the most average of sides.

With eight points to close on the top six sides and a side that has failed to win three games in a row, it is unlikely that the gap can be closed, especially as so many other sides have to falter for Town to make it.

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So the challenge set my a couple of avid readers is to find a positive line and a way that Town would reach the play-offs and after that who knows?

Fair enough, here goes.

If we accept that Wolves, Reading and Birmingham are probably beyond reach, the answer could lay in the frailties of the rest of the opposition for the remaining three places.

For starters selling James Beattie could wreck Sheffield United because not only have they lost their top-scorer but he was their talisman.

The message sent out by the board, while financially prudent possibly, is one of either complete arrogance in the belief that they are so good they can get by without him, or a sign that they are not prepared to gamble on winning promotion in the summer when a lot of their money problems would be solved.

They failed in their attempt to land another proven scorer in Leroy Lita who preferred to stay at Reading and are looking to land town target David Nugent from Portsmouth, hoping he will settle in quickly and finding scoring form in a hurry.

Then we have Cardiff City who have choked in the past and if they lose key midfielder Joe Ledley to the Premier League this month could stumble once more and they have Birmingham City today.

Preston have shown they can struggle against teams in and around tem after recent losses against QPR and Cardiff, and have Burnley today.

The Clarets are going through quite a wobble having dropped 10 points over a four game period and have slipped down the table alarmingly.

Crystal Palace traditionally finish strongly but with Simon Jordan looking to sell, and make a few quid before he goes, it could be they lose a couple of key players in this window and if Town win at Selhurst Park today it will help them while hurting their rival's chances.

QPR continue to make signings but have failed to look a really settled side and it may be too early for tem to challenge for real.

Swansea draw too many games and for all their good looking football perhaps lack the nous and grit to finish the season strongly after just coming up.

Sheffield Wednesday are a point and a place behind Town and they will believe they have a chance, given the fresh investment and feel-good factor now enveloping Hillsborough, but we saw last weekend how ordinary they are and they are unlikely to get much better in the short term.

So accepting many of those seven will fall away, the first thing would be for Town to go on a consistent streak where they do not drop too many points. They may not have to win every game but realistically they need to pick up 34 points from the remaining 19 games. Difficult but not impossible. The easiest way is to win 11 games and draw one.

Given Town are averaging four points from a possible nine at the moment they need to improve and that means winning ALL their home games because with the best will in the world getting results at Palace, Swansea, QPR, Preston, Wolves, Reading and Cardiff, all above them in the table, right now, is going to be extremely difficult.

So allowing for a couple of draws at home, reaping 23 points at Portman Road, means they need to find 11 points on the road. That would mean targeting maximum points at places like Barnsley and Bristol City and sneaking a win and draws at three or four of the other seven.

So we are not just drinking from a glass half full but one brimming with optimism.

The pessimists, or even realists, will argue it is more like clutching at straws more than draws but there is nothing wrong in believing.

So there is the positive argument for Town to make the play-offs. I hope it was convincing and pleases those who still believe.

I will be taking these blue-tinted glasses off now.