False Town start could lead to firing gun
IPSWICH TOWN: Ask every one of the 400,000 or so fans who regularly attend Championship games at 3pm tomorrow morning what their thoughts are for the 2010/11 season and the answer would be the same.
Promotion to the Premier League for their club.
What’s the point of supporting your team if you don’t have a high level of expectancy at this time of the year?
From Norwich City to Swansea City from Middlesbrough to Portsmouth this is going to be a good season.
Come 5pm tomorrow a few opinions might have wavered slightly, but it will take a few more weeks or months perhaps of poor results before anything less than a top six finish is accepted.
The Canaries were one big exception last year with their 7-1 home hammering by Colchester United, but records show that clubs that fail to get their act in order early on are unlikely to go on a magical mystery tour to the top flight.
Managers can lose tomorrow and suffer no great pressure. They will be immune from that until the table takes shape.
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Ipswich Town’s Roy Keane is under scrutiny more than most this term after failing to impress last season and having just one more year of his contract left.
A false start and Blues owner Marcus Evans will be ready with his firing gun come the middle of October time.
So tomorrow’s match is vital for Town.
Their stay-at-home policy in pre-season has seen them working on systems and formations, and now is the time for it to bear fruit.
Much may depend on the mood in the camp and Keane will surely be doing all he can to have spirits high and muscles willing.
On paper it could not be a tougher start with Middlesbrough favourites to win the title, but this might be a good time to catch them with so many new faces to bed in.
The arrival of Kevin Thomson (�2m), Stephen McManus (�1.8m) and Kris Boyd (free) from Rangers, Estonian international Tarmo Kink from Hungarian club Gyori and Nicky Bailey (�1m) from Charlton has equipped Boro with the talent to do well.
Goalkeeper Brad Jones is suspended so 36-year-old Danny Coyne will play in goal with Bailey facing a late fitness test on an injured ankle.
Skipper Gary O’Neil has a thigh problem and is doubtful.
Tomorrow’s likely squads
Middlesbrough: Coyne, Steele, Hoyte, Bates, Bennett, Grounds, Wheater, McManus, Flood, Robson, Thomson, Bailey, Arca, Franks, Kink, McDonald, Lita, Boyd, Miller.
Ipswich Town: Fulop, Murphy, Peters, McAuley, Smith, Kennedy, Hyam, Edwards, Leadbitter, Norris, Walters, Priskin, O’Connor, Healy, Brown, Murray, Lambe, Martin, Stead.
Referee: Mr A Bates (Staffordshire)
Ipswich record at Middlesbrough: P25 W8 D7 L10 F32 A41