Fortress, what fortress?

FORGET all talk of a new striker. Put aside the respective merits of signing Jimmy Bullard, Kieron Dyer or even David Norris.

Paul Jewell’s biggest priority next season must be returning Portman Road to fortress-status if he has any realistic chance of leading Ipswich Town into a promotion push.

Successive home defeats against Reading and Watford have been dire to the extreme. But they are sadly in keeping with the fare largely served up on Alan Ferguson’s fantastic surface this season.

The Blues have so far lost nine matches at Portman Road - making the 2010/11 league campaign the worst for home fans in 10 seasons.

Coupled with tough economic times, it is little wonder so many fans have stayed away this season. Even Dyer’s long-awaited homecoming against the Hornets did little to encourage people through the turnstiles.


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After inheriting many problems from the Roy Keane era - with six of the home defeats under his regime - it is up to Paul Jewell to solve this worrying predicament. And Marcus Evans and Simon Clegg will need their best marketing skills when promoting next year’s season tickets sales in the weeks to come.

It is not all doom and gloom. Jewell was right not to be too downbeat after the recent defeat against Portsmouth actually produced the best 45 minutes of attacking football seen at home in many a year. The only thing missing was an end product.

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And on paper, the current squad still contains some genuine, and sought-after, talent - even if there are serious worries that some might not be plying their trade in Suffolk next season.

If Jewell can add the right elements, a striker and some creativity being clear priorities, then there is every reason to think things can only get better.

But there is no chance unless they vastly improve their home record next season. Statistics show that the Championship’s top teams are predictably strong at their own ground. QPR this season have lost just once at Loftus Road, the season before Newcastle remained unbeaten throughout at St James’ Park.

Understandably delighted after watching his side win 3-0 on Tuesday night, Watford boss Malky Mackay paid a gushing tribute to Ferguson and the state of the Portman Road turf.

It’s now Jewell’s job to find a squad next season who can do it justice.

- Why do you think Ipswich Town have struggled so much at home this season? Let us know your thoughts at sport@eadt.co.uk

A tale of woe - Town’s league home form this season

August 14: Burnley 1-1

August 28: Bristol City 2-0

September 14: QPR 0-3

September 18: Cardiff City 2-0

October 2: Leeds United 2-1

October 16: Coventry City 1-2

October 30: Millwall 2-0

November 9: Derby County 0-2

November 13: Barnsley 1-3

December 4: Swansea City 1-3

December 18: Leicester City 3-0

January 3: Nottingham Forest 0-1

January 22: Doncaster 3-2

February 5: Sheffield United 3-0

February 19: Hull City 1-1

February 26: Portsmouth 0-2

March 8: Reading 1-3

March 15: Watford 0-3

TO COME...

April 9: Crystal Palace

April 12: Middlesbrough

April 21: Norwich City

April 30: Preston

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