Must do better

NOT a bad first half of the season but must do better.That is the half-term assessment from manager Jim Magilton after Ipswich passed the midway point of the season in sixth place and with 36 points in the bag.

By Derek Davis

NOT a bad first half of the season but must do better.

That is the half-term assessment from manager Jim Magilton after Ipswich passed the midway point of the season in sixth place and with 36 points in the bag.

Magilton has been pleased with his squad's efforts up to now and, with Marcus Evans' millions ready to be used, he is optimistic that Town can improve in 2008.

Magilton said: “I have been very pleased with my squad. Right from the pre-season I said we needed to get off to a good start and we did that.

“I can't fault the efforts, I can't fault the way they have gone about their day to day business and overall I have been very pleased but at the same time I know there is room for improvement.”

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The big black mark is a total of just four points from 11 away games, and knocked out of the Carling Cup at MK Dons, as Town have failed to win away since last March when they beat Luton, who were subsequently relegated.

In fact the Blues have managed just two wins on the road since beating Coventry City this time last year, amassing a paltry 13 points in the whole of 2007 with just two away matches to go, including Coventry on Saturday.

Magilton said: “We know the areas we have to improve in. Away from home we have not picked up enough points. Some of our performances have not been good enough, we have been poor at times and we have to hold our hands up to that.

“If we can pick up more points away then we will be in good shape.

“Our home form has been outstanding but we have not matched that away.

“I would love us to go and win the game playing beautiful football but I would be just as happy playing horrible and win 1-0. We have not had a situation where we have been able to say 'we were lucky there' after scraping a win away.”

Irishman Magilton is convinced the secret to away-day success is all in the mind.

He added: “It is about a mental state of mind, having the strength to say we are going to win away and going and doing it.

“I used to love playing away from home because there was less pressure. There was a good intensity to the game, with the opposition crowd very biased, so there was something about going to quiet the crowd and taking the three points.

“The pressure for us use dot be at home but this year the team is very comfortable at home whereas away we have stumbled.”

With Lauren Robert the latest player rumoured to be coming to Portman Road, Blues fans are anticipating new arrivals in January, although Magilton refused to talk about the French winger and doubted anything would happen with anyone in the first few days of the transfer window opening.

He said: “I would love to say yes we will get someone when the window opens but there is nothing on the verge.

“We need cover at the back with a centre half a preference but while we have targets there can also be a little surprise with someone perhaps coming available on loan or something else.

“We just have to see what happens.”

Having the extra cash to spend, although it won't be all of the £12 straight off and wages also come out of that budget, will help and Marcus Evans' input has been welcomed.

Magilton said: “There is an air of optimism around the place because to have that size of debt does weigh you down.

“That has evaporated and people really believe we can do something. There is more belief now than there was at the start of the season.

“Marcus Evans has come in and lifted the place and gives us more of an opportunity to tackle to managers on a more level paying field.”

Town take the first of two opportunities to end the year with an away win by taking on Leicester today, just 25 days after beating them 3-1 at Portman Road.

Magilton said: “We know we have the capabilities of beating them so go there confident of getting a result but it will be about an attitude and desire to win.

“Leicester will also be confident after their draw at Wolves. It is a big home game with a big crowd on Boxing day for them so we need to show resolve and have the mentality to get the result.”

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