Mick McCarthy will give his Ipswich Town players the freedom to express themselves tonight
- Credit: Picture: Steve Waller
Tommy Smith hopes the Ipswich Town players can give their fans something to smile about again at Portman Road tonight.
Only Middlesbrough won more Championship home games than Town in 2014/15, but Mick McCarthy’s men have toiled on Suffolk soil in what has been a largely frustrating follow-up season.
The entertainment value has been particularly poor in 2016 and has led to many supporters seriously considering whether to renew their season tickets.
“We need to put smiles back on our fans’ faces at Portman Road,” admitted Smith. “Home is where you should be picking up your points. We need to be looking to improve on that next season.
“If we’d had everybody fit then I have no doubt that we would be in the play-offs.
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“We’ve tried to do the best we can without certain players, but we’ve got to look ourselves in the mirror and say we’ve not quite hit the same heights as last year.”
When this writer struggled to find a word to describe Ipswich’s last few home displays, manager McCarthy interjected and said ‘s***e’. He continued: “You’ve known me nearly four years now, I’ve never hidden away from anything. If we’re good, we’re good, if we’re not, we’re not.
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“I’m an optimist, but I’m not a head in the clouds, head up my backside idiot that will keep saying ‘we can do it’. I think the play-offs are beyond us now.
“And if there’s nothing to be excited about in that respect, if that story has gone, then we all want something to get excited about and enthused about.”
Revealing that Dozzell would start, he continued: “We all like to watch a young kid come through. Everyone talks about the ‘Class of 92’ with Manchester United still. That changed everybody’s perception on youngsters.
“We’ve got Teddy Bishop coming back, Kundai Benyu and Clarkey (Matt Clarke), who we shouldn’t forget about. I know he won’t whet the appetite the same way a young goalscoring midfielder would, but nevertheless it’s nice to have them coming through.”
Town’s tactics have centred around stopping the opposition of late, while the players have looked nervy in front of their own fans. With little to play for now, could the shackles be off tonight?
“I hope so, but that could be said for Fulham as well,” said McCarthy.
“In terms of preparing for the game, it’s a case of me saying to them ‘go and play well individually’. There’s no encouragement to play a certain way, just me saying ‘go and enjoy the game’.”