Have your say: Ipswich Town fan’s season preview

Ainsley Maitland-Niles has been very impressive in pre-season

Ainsley Maitland-Niles has been very impressive in pre-season - Credit: Picture: Steve Waller

With the new season set to kick-off on Saturday, Ipswich Town fan and football writer ALEX MITCHELL previews the Blues’ chances.

The new season kicks off in just six days’ time and this is Ipswich’s chance to put May’s play-off heartbreak behind them and have another crack at promotion to the Premier League. Ever heard of the saying 14th time lucky? (No, me neither.)

All 24 teams in the Championship will be raring to go, and it’s possible to say at least half will be seriously dreaming of the big time, so how realistic is Ipswich’s chance of promotion? With squad improvements and Mick McCarthy’s managerial record, it would be hard to bet against them.

Ipswich kept under the radar for most of the 2014/15 season, but now after finishing in the top six other teams will know what to expect when they face McCarthy’s men.

TRANSFERS

The summer transfer window has been a good one so far, with McCarthy openly admitting when taking the squad photo he’s happier than this time 12 months ago.

Tyrone Mings £8m move to Bournemouth as well as the loan signing of Ryan Fraser and the free transfer of Brett Pitman was fantastic business for the club, and with just under a month to go until the window shuts you wouldn’t be surprised to see some more additions.

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As well as those Bournemouth additions, Town secured the loan signing of Ainsley Maitland-Niles from Arsenal, a 17 year-old winger with bags of potential. Fraser and Maitland-Niles could possibly be the answer to Ipswich’s lack of midfield goals last season, with the new boys having that extra yard of pace than the likes of Jay Tabb.

Mings’ departure meant a new left-back was needed, and Ipswich responded by signing Jonas Knudsen, a 22 year-old Danish international, and after Saturday’s friendly draw against FC Utrecht it seemed the Dane could quickly become a fan-favourite.

Giles Coke (CM) and Larsen Toure (RM) have also signed, providing more depth to an already competitive squad.

MAIN MAN

If Ipswich are to challenge at the top of the table, they will need last season’s top scorer Daryl Murphy to be firing yet again. Ipswich’s front four, with Murphy, David McGoldrick, Freddie Sears and Brett Pitman, could possibly be the best in the division.

But Murphy is different to his other three team-mates. He’s big, strong, holds the ball up, runs the channels and more importantly can score any type of goal. His goal away at Nottingham Forest was skilful, whilst at Cardiff he showed his powerful left-foot, and at home to Leeds showed what he can do with his head.

It’s unlikely he will match his whopping 27 goals from last season, but he will again be hoping to hit the 20 mark.

DEFENCE

With all Ipswich’s firepower up-front, it will also be vital they are solid at the back. Christophe Berra will have to put his Carrow Road horror show behind him and return to the great form he had shown until then (forgetting his own goal against Forest!) Berra had been a rock in Ipswich’s defence until May, and he’s also a threat at the other end too.

It will be interesting to see how the defence shapes up throughout the season. Captain Luke Chambers played right-back last year but he could return to his more natural position of centre-half if needed, and Jonathan Parr will also hope to cement his position in the first XI after a mixed first season at the club.

GOALKEEPERS

Bartosz Bialkowski made 35 appearances last season, 18 more than Dean Gerken, and I think it will be ‘Bart’ who gets the nod this season too.

After a shaky start at home to Wolves, Bart got better as the season progressed and that’s why Gerken did not go straight back into the team once he returned from injury.

6 ft 4 Bialkowski looks more secure in his area than Gerken, and I think that’s why Mick will keep the faith with Bart.

STYLE

This new Ipswich squad allows different styles of football to be played. Last season some fans weren’t impressed by the so called ‘hoof-ball’ that was sometimes seen. But with the likes of Fraser, Maitland-Niles and Freddie Sears on the pitch it’s hard to imagine the ball being ‘hoofed’ up to them.

These players like to have the ball at their feet and run at players, but I suppose if Ipswich need a goal in the last five minutes we may see Knudsen’s monster throw-in launched in the box towards Murphy’s head.

VERDICT

McCarthy took Sunderland up in his first full season, and Wolves up in his third, so who says he couldn’t do the same at Ipswich? Going up against the likes of Derby and Middlesbrough may be difficult, but I believe Ipswich have the right squad and manager to put up a good fight for promotion.

Predicted Position: 4th

What do you think? Comment below!

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