Ipswich’s season will be remembered for McCarthy’s exit... but which games, goals and signings stood out?
- Credit: Archant
Ipswich Town’s 2017/18 was dominated by the future and ultimate departure of former manager Mick McCarthy.
It started so well, with the Blues’ impressive early season form raising hopes of a serious promotion challenge, but that challenge quickly faded, with apathy, frustration and a breakdown in the relationship between McCarthy and the club’s fans taking the place of the initial optimism.
By the turn of the year it had become obvious there was little chance of Ipswich being in the thick of the promotion race come the end of the season, with the club’s January transfer window business doing little to inspire a charge in the second half of the campaign which saw them finish 12th when all was said and done.
It must be said the crippling injury list, robbing McCarthy of the creativity of Emyr Huws, Andre Dozzell and Teddy Bishop among others, put the former Town boss at a further disadvantage at a time when Ipswich continue to swim against when compared to the spending power of many sides in the Championship. But the second half of the campaign became dominated by McCarthy’s relationship with the fans and growing questions over his future.
The frustrations created by a 2016/17 season which saw the Blues record their lowest finish in nearly 60 years were largely surpressed during the early weeks of the season, but a dramatic free-kick winner from Bersant Celina at Burton saw fractures again appear which ultimately never healed.
McCarthy said post-match that the more the travelling support chanted for the Kosovan, the less likely he was to bring him on - comments which ultimately proved the beginning of the end for McCarthy.
With his contract due to expire at the end of the campaign, serious questions over his future began after Christmas with the Blues boss largely staying tight lipped over his plans with hints that he could either stay or go coming on a weekly basis.
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The ecstasy and then agony of a 1-1 draw at Norwich was overshadowed by McCarthy shouting f*** off in the direction of the travelling support, having been subjected to negative chants from the stands prior to Luke Chambers’ headed goal, which looked to have won the game for the visitors before Timm Klose’s heartbreaking leveller.
Falling attendances became bigger talking points than the games themselves, while the 3-0 home loss to Hull proved a watershed moment as McCarthy held a team meeting in the middle of the pitch at the end of a game where sections of the crowd had made their feelings abundantly clear.
The March international break ultimately heralded news of the experienced boss’s impending departure, although he took charge of four more games during which it was obvious the 59-year-old had had enough. The 1-0 victory over Barnsley proved to be his final game in charge, using his post-match interview to proclaim he was ‘out of here’ before exiting stage left.
Bryan Klug took the reigns for the final four games and, while they heralded just four points, his month at the helm did begin the process of reuniting the club and its fans.
While McCarthy’s eventual exit cast a cloud, there were plenty of memorable moments.
Celina produced his own goal of the season competition, Martyn Waghorn hit the ground running after arriving in a bargain deal from Rangers and the likes of Tristan Nydam and Flynn Downes emerged to show there is a chance of a bright future at Portman Road.
Owner Marcus Evans, who released a video message at the end of the campaign in which he discussed his vision for the club, is currently searching for a new manager as a new era dawns at the Suffolk, with the past season proving the end of the last.