Our Ipswich Town predictions: Top scorer, best player, where they'll finish and more
- Credit: Archant
The new League One season kicks off this Saturday as Ipswich Town host Morecambe. Here, football writers Andy Warren, Stuart Watson and Mike Bacon, plus sports editor Mark Heath and visual specialist Ross Halls, offer their predictions for the season ahead....
Town's best summer signing: Lee Evans gets my vote here. He isn’t the most-flashy of the signings but I think he’s going to make this Ipswich side tick. He’s a true, all-round midfielder who poses a goal threat from outside the box and is excellent from set-pieces. He’s as close to a sure-thing as Ipswich have got in the transfer market this summer and he’s going to be at the heart of this side. He’s going to play a big role in Rekeem Harper’s development, too, I’m sure.
Town's leading scorer and how many: Joe Pigott, 17. Paul Cook’s going to have options in attack this season but, right now, Pigott looks to be at the head of them. He scored 20 league goals at AFC Wimbledon last season and I think he’ll get close to that again, though the fact minutes may be shared around a little means he may fall short. Either way, this Ipswich Town will have a lot more goals in it than it has in recent seasons.
Town's MVP (most valuable player): I have to go with Evans again, for all the reasons listed above. Town have signed some impressive attacking players this summer and all will have their moments but, if he’s fit, Evans will start all 46 league games I’m sure in a vital area of the field. Cook’s midfielders have to do everything, attacking while taking on defensive responsibility to allow the full-backs to get forward. He’s at the heart of the team.
Surprise package: Toto Nsiala. The defender was probably a little surprised to see his contract extended this summer when all around him were being jettisoned, but after his most consistent season in an Ipswich shirt he still has a role to play.
Town will finish: Third. League One is very strong this season. I think this Ipswich squad will come good but I feel it may take a bit of time for everything to come together. This league could be a brilliant one this season.
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Top two: Sunderland and Rotherham
Play-off places: Town, Lincoln, Portsmouth, Wigan
Dark horse: Bolton
Relegated: Morecambe, AFC Wimbledon, Fleetwood, Cambridge
Best signing: Scott Fraser. Town's big problem over the last couple of seasons has been a lack of creative spark in the final third. A shortage of goals from midfield is an even longer standing issue. Fraser arrives having produced 30 goals and 25 assists in League One over the last three seasons for Burton and MK Dons. Enough said.
Top scorer: Joe Pigott. He's been a regular scorer for an AFC Wimbledon side who have repeatedly been battling the League One drop. With better service, the goals should continue to flow. I'll say a conservative 14 only because I think James Norwood and Macauley Bonne will share the load.
MVP: Kane Vincent-Young. Flying full-backs are integral to Paul Cook's style of play. If Vincent-Young can rediscover his dynamic pre-injuries form then he will be key to unlocking stubborn defences and protecting against the counter.
Surprise package: Toto Nsiala. So many people had written him off after an error-strewn opening two campaigns with the Blues, but Toto was an integral part of a back four that boasted the joint-fourth meanest defensive record in the league last season. I like my centre-halves to head it and kick it at this level.
Town will finish: Second
Top two: Sheffield Wednesday and Town
Play-off places: Charlton, Rotherham, Oxford and Wycombe
Dark horse: Accrington Stanley
Relegated: Morecambe, Cambridge, Cheltenham, Fleetwood
Best signing: Without doubt Joe Pigott. I think Pigott will prove to be a big hit with Town fans in the coming season and years ahead. He knows where the goal is, as well as being a ball-playing striker, I'm confident he will link well with whoever he plays alongside. He appears an intelligent No.9 and is strong enough to upset physical defenders.
Top scorer: Well, I can hardly pick Pigott as my best summer signing and then not suggest the striker won't be the highest Town scorer. But how many? Well, I think goals will be distributed about a lot this season in this Town team, so I don't think there will be one out and out main man. However, Pigott will get 18 in all competitions.
MVP: Tricky one this as I think the MVP will be the player who quietly goes about his business, keeping the team ticking along. So, for that reason I'm going for Rekeem Harper. I think he's the player who will average seven out of 10 week in, week out, with a couple of 9s chucked in. He has already shown his quality, while his attitude appears spot on. Understated quality.
Surprise package: Macauley Bonne. He has come on leaps and bounds in recent years. This is a lad who has done the hard graft in the lower leagues and then got his move to QPR and now here at Ipswich this season. The Ipswich-born Bonne has nothing to prove but everything to prove, if you know what I mean? He will relish playing for his home-town club and will leave nothing on the pitch to achieve it.
Town will finish: My heart says second, but I think fourth. Whatever happens there is little reason Town can't make a serious push for promotion back to the Championship this season. They have signed a plethora of excellent players for League One. But as we have already seen League One is no pushover and there are some very good sides in it. But Town will be up there, they just might have to gain promotion through a Wembley final... I think we'd all take that though.
Top two: Sunderland and Charlton
Play-off places: Town, Sheffield Wednesday, Wycombe and Portsmouth
Dark horse: Lincoln
Relegated: Cambridge, Morecambe, Plymouth and Crewe
Best signing: Very hard to decide on this one because the summer business has been brilliant, but I am going for Lee Evans - he is a player we need to lead this side forward. He's played under Cook before and knows how to get out of this league, plus can score goals and take set pieces.
Top scorer: Joe Pigott. He bagged 20 plus goals last season for a struggling Wimbledon side last season and I am sure he will get the service he needs to score goals here. I think he'll score 22.
MVP: Vaclav Hladky. He's an upgrade on what we had last season and, though it sounds silly to say, goalkeeper is a vital position if you want to be a successful side. I think he'll save us (sorry for the pun) a lot of points, and win some for us too.
Surprise package: Matt Penney. Possibly the lowest key signing of the summer but left-back is a position we've struggled with since Tyrone Mings, to be honest, and I think Penney could have a good season in League One.
Town will finish: I want to say League One champs but I'm being cautious with my prediction and going for a fourth place finish - so many teams will be going all guns blazing at us and I still don't think we are going to walk over the smaller sides either. But bring on Wembley!
Top two: Rotherham and Charlton
Play-off places: Bolton, Town, Wigan, Sheffield Wednesday
Dark horse: Plymouth
Relegated: Morecambe, AFC Wimbledon, Cheltenham, Gillingham
Best signing: There are a lot to choose from, but I think Lee Evans is the one who tops the summer crop. Brings everything Town need at the base of that midfield, knows how to lead and win, offers improved set-piece options and is the obvious choice for captain.
Top scorer: If Town are to have the season we all hope for, then Joe Pigott has to be the man here. I think he'll get 20 - and you know what they say about promotion challengers and 20-goal a season strikers...
MVP: Evans is the obvious choice here, for all the reasons above. But I'm going to go with the man who will partner him in that deep midfield role, Rekeem Harper. While Evans will be rock solid every week, I think Harper could bring that star quality to Town and establish himself as one of the best midfielders in League One.
Surprise package: Toto Nsiala. Last year I gave big Totes just a 1/10 shot of making an impact for Town, and he went on to have a very solid season. Proves what I know! Most will have him behind George Edmundson and Luke Woolfenden on the CB depth chart, but I can see him playing a vital role for Town. Strong, experienced and brings an intimidation factor too.
Town will finish: Third
Top two: Rotherham and Sunderland
Play-off places: Town, Wycombe, Portsmouth, Wigan
Dark horse: MK Dons
Relegated: Morecambe, Cambridge, Fleetwood, Cheltenham