Monday verdict: Don’t underestimate the impact of Ipswich Town’s five-star victory over Rotherham
What a difference a week makes.
This time last Monday, Ipswich Town’s stuttering season had hit a major crossroads.
The Blues were winless in seven matches and had dropped into their one-time spiritual home of 14th place in the Championship table.
It was only natural for fans to fear a return to mid-table mediocrity.
Only a fool writes off a Mick McCarthy side though. He never panicked, that rubbed off on his players and now the season is well and truly back on track.
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To dwell on the negatives from Saturday’s 5-2 win at Rotherham would be nit-picking.
This was the first time that the Blues have scored five times in a game during McCarthy’s three-year managerial tenure. And it’s no exaggeration to say that it could have easily been eight or nine.
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Just like in the slick 2-0 home win over Bolton last Tuesday, Town really clicked as an attacking force.
Daryl Murphy ended his goal drought in style with his first-ever hat-trick in English football and will rightfully get the headlines.
It shouldn’t go unnoticed that the selfless and tireless performances of fellow front men Brett Pitman and Freddie Sears have helped him no end of late, though.
There was a lot of debate about formations and team balance during that winless period, but the bottom line was that too many key players were below par.
Now Christophe Berra is back to his imperious best at the back, while Cole Skuse is looking like the consistent seven out of 10 man in the middle of the park again.
Organised, physical, hassling and harrying throughout, Ipswich Town very much resemble the outfit which scrapped their way to a sixth-place spot last season.
Actually, they’ve looked an improved version of that team in the last two games.
There will be those that say now is not the time to get too carried away and that it’s ‘only’ two teams in the relegation zone that have been put to the sword.
True, tougher tasks are undoubtedly on the horizon, but scoring five goals away from home is no mean feat in any division and against any opposition.
And, as the likes of Bristol City and Huddersfield have shown recently, there really is no such thing as an easy game in the Championship.
This time last week the talk was of just one league win in 10. Now the emphasis is suddenly on the statistics which shows just two league defeats in 10.