Not going up and not going down... but Blues can still have an impact at both ends of table
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Ipswich Town are not going up and not going down but the Blues can still impact the promotion race and the relegation battle.
Where will Town finish?
The sad reality is Ipswich can’t finish any higher than their current position of 12th - barring an extremely unlikely series of results and an almighty goal swing over the final three games of the campaign.
The best the Blues can hope for is to secure the final spot in the top half, which would represent only a crumb of success during a season that at various periods offered the potential of more.
Win all three games and 12th will be secured, but any dropped points could see them slide down the table.
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Last season’s 16th-placed finish was the club’s worst in 58 years, but this season could usurp that in the history books if the worst-case scenario is achieved.
The lowest position available is 17th, currently held by a Nottingham Forst side seven points back with an extra game to play, with Sheffield Wednesday, Leeds, QPR and Norwich all sides who could finish higher than the Blues.
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The truth is, though, last week’s loss at the City Ground and the remaining three games of Bryan Klug’s caretaker tenure is not a period that will be judged on results or league positions, but rather serves as the start of a new era at Ipswich Town as the club’s search for a new manager and a fresh approach goes on.
Battle with Norwich
While the campaign will not be looked back on fondly, a finish above rivals Norwich will at least give supporters something to shout about at a time when the Canaries have not been beaten for nearly a decade.
The two sides are locked on 56 points with three matches to play, with the Blues facing Aston Villa tomorrow ahead of games with Reading and Middlesbrough, while the Canaries face Preston, Leeds and Sheffield Wednesday.
Victory in this saddest of battles between the two rivals is not one either should be overly elated by, but bragging rights are bragging rights after all.
Starting with Saturday’s clash with Villa, the Blues can have a real impact on the promotion race.
If Ipswich beat Steve Bruce’s men then they could be mathematiclly out of the battle for the top two come Saturday evening. Even a draw would almost certainly condemn them to the play-offs.
They are currently four points behind Cardiff, who have a game in hand, with Fulham a point further back as the men from Craven Cottage prepare for a game at Millwall on Friday night.
The Blues could also have an impact on the battle for the two remaining play-off places, which sees seven teams separated by just four points.
Middlesbrough, in fifth, are one of those sides, with the signs suggesting they will need to take something from their final day visit to Portman Road to make sure of their place in the post-season promotion lottery.
Bottom of the table battles
Sandwiched between the games with promotion-chasing Aston Villa and Middlesbrough is a visit to Reading.
The Royals, now managed by Paul Clement, are currently five points clear of the drop zone but will be wary given third-bottom Barnsley have a game in hand.
Sunderland play Burton this weekend in a game where a draw could relegate both clubs, depending on results elswhere, leaving just one drop-zone spot available.
Reading could secure Championship status this weekend if they win at Sheffield Wednesday and Barnsley lose at Leeds, but Clement’s side are likely to need something from the visit of Ipswich to ensure they stay up.