Town hoping to shed ‘soft touch’
IPSWICH Town, despite a season of struggle, could still end up finishing in the same position as last year.
And that will give Town a good springboard for next season, when manager Roy Keane wants to shed Town’s image of being a “soft touch.”
Keane’s men were embroiled in a relegation dogfight, up until the start of this week, when a 3-1 win at Derby propelled them to safety, but they now look reasonable bets for a top-half-of-the-table finish.
Furthermore, last season’s ninth place finish is not beyond the capabilities of an in-form Town.
They rose to a season high of 13th in the table, following the victory at Pride Park, and there is still room for improvement. In fact, they are only one point adrift of ninth-placed Bristol City, with four games remaining.
Such is the compactness of the Championship table, that a team can be transformed from relegation candidates into top 10 hopefuls within a few weeks.
Town have a tough run-in, although the fact that Saturday’s hosts Nottingham Forest are now resigned to featuring in the play-offs, rather than finishing in the top two, and that their other hosts, Newcastle United, have already wrapped up promotion, makes them less daunting propositions.
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Mid-table Doncaster Rovers and Sheffield United are the remaining visitors to Portman Road. Both Yorkshire clubs are just one point above Town, so they could end up leapfrogging the pair of them with home victories.
A strong finish would certainly put Town fans in good heart for next season, when Keane will be hoping to launch a promotion bid in his second season at Portman Road.
To achieve that, Keane is looking for a tougher approach from his players.
“The Derby game are the kind of performances we need, trying to change the mindset of what Ipswich is seen to be, particularly away from home, where we’ve been seen as a soft touch,” insisted Keane.
“We’ve got the change that. We need more of what we saw at Derby.
“But at the moment we’re just focussing on winning football matches, and we’ve not done enough of that this year.
“We need to go again on Saturday, that’s what the good teams do. It’s all right winning a game of football, but you’ve got to keep on winning.
“Other teams do it. I’ve seen Reading do it, and the Newcastles. All these teams keep doing it, but we’re a bit short of that at the moment,” added Keane.
The emphasis has been on resting up, ahead of this Saturday’s trip to third-placed Forest, after the two wins in 48 hours over Reading and Derby.
Keane continued: “When you have two games in three days, the advantage is definitely with the home team, without a shadow of a doubt.
“I was tired on the morning of the (Derby) match, so I can imagine what the players must have been feeling like
“The players have had a few days to recover,” confirmed Keane.