Ipswich Town SWOT analysis: Bucking a trend, ‘new signings’ and making history - Opportunities ahead for Blues
- Credit: Archant
This week we are analysing Ipswich Town’s start to the League One season which sees them top the table at the quarter mark. Next up ANDY WARREN looks at the opportunities ahead for the Blues.
Ipswich Town are top of League One and remain unbeaten at the quarter mark of the season.
This week we'll be looking at the Blues' start to the campaign, putting them through a SWOT analysis to assess the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats of Paul Lambert's men.
Here, we analyse potential opportunities which lie ahead.
Buck a trend
Not since Bristol City in 2014/15 has a team top of League One on October 17 actually gone on to win the league or even win promotion.
Now it's Ipswich's turn to try and do what Gillingham, Scunthorpe, (Paul Hurst's) Shrewsbury and Portsmouth have failed to do before them.
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This Ipswich team feels different, though. None of those sides, not even Portsmouth last season, went into the campaign as fancied as the Blues or with anything like the strength of squad available to Paul Lambert.
Town have the opportunity to take a real stranglehold over League One in the coming weeks. They're unbeaten, top of the table, four points clear and hold a game in hand on much of the league.
While they've found a way to win when not at their best, their rivals have all stuttered. Ipswich have well and truly put themselves in pole position.
Keep up the level of consistency they've found during the first quarter of the season and they have the chance to do something really special.
Strength on strength
Lambert has the opportunity to strengthen his squad without spending a penny. And I'm not talking about the January transfer window.
He's used 29 players already this season but still has some frontline options waiting in the wings.
Freddie Sears should thrive at this level, especially if given the chance to play in a front two, while Teddy Bishop offers a dynamic dribbling threat from midfield which none of the other Ipswich playmakers possess. Both are due back before Christmas.
Then there's Jack Lankester, who burst onto the scene last season and has the ability to play anywhere in the Town forward line. He's dealing with a back problem, having suffered a second stress fracture, and is due to be reassessed in January.
There's no need to rush him back, though. Take your time, get it right and he'll return fit and firing.
Spending in January is an option of course, if Lambert feels his side need that extra push to get them over the line.
Town owner Marcus Evans and manager Mick McCarthy opted not to strengthen from a position of strength when in the thick of the Championship promotion hunt in 2015, which could prompt a different approach this time around.
It's secondary to the league of course, but the Blues have given themselves a shot at a trophy by winning their EFL Trophy group with a game to spare.
Ignoring the dead group game at Colchester next month, Ipswich are now just four wins away from playing at the new Wembley Stadium for the first time in their history.
Lambert will surely (and probably rightly) continue his policy of using the competition to field a secondary team but, given the size of his squad, there's no reason why the Blues can't go all the way in this one.
Granted, the last four teams to contest finals in this competition have all lost in their league play-offs during that same season, but did any of those have a squad as strong as Ipswich's?
Just imagine the scenes if Ipswich fans were given the opportunity to travel en masse to the famous stadium.
Ipswich will have the opportunity to right a major wrong in the coming weeks.
This weekend is FA Cup Fourth Round Qualifying weekend, meaning all of the non-league sides competing at that stage are potential first-round opponents for the Blues.
That means Ipswich could easily end up facing the likes of Bristol Manor Farm, Peterborough Sports, King's Lynn or Maldon & Tiptree. They could also be drawn away to Carlisle (shudder).
Town have lost at the first hurdle in the famous competition in nine successive seasons, losing to lower-league opponents four times in the process.
This is an opportunity to right a wrong.
(High grade mineral) Water into wine
Yesterday we looked at the Blues' potential weaknesses as part of our SWOT analysis and you can easily argue that each of those is in fact an opportunity.
We're perhaps being picky when we suggest Ipswich still have more gears to find but, if they're able to go up a notch or two, then we're in for a real treat.
Alan Judge and James Norwood were highlighted as players who themselves had more to give and, if they can, they can help elevate their team to a new level.
The ultimate goal is, of course, promotion.
Only six Ipswich Town sides have managed that during the club's professional history, with Lambert's men giving themselves the opportunity to make it a magnificent seven.
Yes, it's only the third tier of English football, but if they're able to succeed then the class of 2019/20 and the scenes that will follow will surely be remembered in the same breath as boys of 1992 and 2000.