Ipswich Town boss Mick McCarthy wants to change what’s Top of the Pops at Portman Road

Ipswich Town boss Mick McCarthy

Ipswich Town boss Mick McCarthy

Ipswich Town boss Mick McCarthy has joked he wants to change what’s Top of the Pops at Portman Road this season.

Grant Ward stepped off the bench at half-time to score a hat-trick on his Ipswich Town debut as the

Grant Ward stepped off the bench at half-time to score a hat-trick on his Ipswich Town debut as the Blues beat Barnsley 4-2 at Portman Road in their opening game of last season. Photo: Steve Waller - Credit: Picture: Steve Waller

The atmosphere turned toxic during a miserable 2016/17 campaign and, following a lowest finish in 58 years, around 2,000 supporters have chosen not to renew their season tickets.

McCarthy knows the mood is on a knife’s edge heading into this afternoon’s Championship opener against Birmingham City and that a positive start is required to win back the affections of the Blues faithful.

Asked if he today’s game was a must-not-lose situation given the ill-feeling that has festered, the Town boss replied: “The aftermath and the fall-out if we lose... I imagine I’d get a fair few boos as I walk down the track at the end.

“That number one song would come out again; ‘Mick McCarthy your football is s***e’. Number two in the charts was ‘you’re ruining our club’, number three... I can’t remember that one!

Andre Dozzell will miss the rest of the season. Picture: PAGEPIX LTD

Andre Dozzell will miss the rest of the season. Picture: PAGEPIX LTD - Credit: Archant

“Getting the top three songs in the Ipswich hit parade ruined and below number 40 – that’s my job this year!”

He continued: “We had a really poor season by our standards and by my standards. The football wasn’t great and it became a means to an end because, from Christmas onwards, we were in a relegation scrap. It left a bad taste in everybody’s mouths. I didn’t enjoy it.

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“What I would say to everybody is that it’s a start again situation. Just come and support. If we don’t win, and we play badly, then I’ll take what comes. But do I feel under more pressure? Not at all.

“I know all those chants would all come out again if we don’t start well, but if you think I’m worried about that before I go out then you’ve got me completely wrong.

Birmingham City signed ex-Town loanee keeper David Stockdale from Brighton at the start of the summe

Birmingham City signed ex-Town loanee keeper David Stockdale from Brighton at the start of the summer, but boss Harry Redknapp has failed to land the number of signings he would have liked. Photo: PA - Credit: PA Archive/PA Images

“Those chants are products of us losing or playing badly. A defeat would then be tagged onto last season, but my view is ‘let’s go out and win and walk off to a happy crowd’. That’s what I hope we do. If we don’t, there is not a great deal I can do about it. I’ll have done my best.

“Of course we need the fans behind us. We strive to get them onside. Let’s go back to the Newcastle game when we won (3-1 on Easter Monday) and played terrific here. That was a great day, a great result, a great performance – that’s what we need to produce and that’s what we’ll be trying.”

McCarthy has moved 14 players on and signed four fresh faces this summer in the form of Joe Garner, Bersant Celina, Dominic Iorfa and Tom Adeyemi, also retaining Emyr Huws and Jordan Spence.

Injuries and illness have badly disrupted pre-season preparations, with several still sidelined or playing catch-up on their fitness.

“Tight knit is good,” said McCarthy. “I’ll have a squad of around 24 and that will include Michael Crowe as the third keeper, as well as (youngsters) Tristan (Nydam), Flynn (Downes) and Dozza (Andre Dozzell). I believe they can play in team, which is great. I won’t have total competition for places until everyone is fit though.”