Monday verdict: Doom and gloom predictions are premature

Daryl Murphy is held back by Gertjan Martens during the Ipswich Town v Royale Union Saint-Gilloise (

Daryl Murphy is held back by Gertjan Martens during the Ipswich Town v Royale Union Saint-Gilloise (Pre-season friendly) match at Portman Road, Ipswich, on 30 July 2016. Picture: Steve Waller - Credit: Picture: Steve Waller

Ipswich Town once again have the underdog tag attached to them – and that could yet prove to be a blessing in disguise.

When the Blues punched above their weight to finish sixth in 2014/15, many got swept up in the excitement of the club’s first play-offs participation in a decade and expectations rocketed.

Fast forward 12 months and the mood is very different. Town may have finished a respectable seventh back in May, but the ever diminishing lack of entertainment at Portman Road has led to around 1,000 fewer season tickets being sold.

A shortage of summer signings, combined with some underwhelming pre-season results, means the there’s a feeling of pessimism heading into what looks like the strongest Championship line-up in years.

Saturday’s 2-1 defeat to Belgian second-tier side Royal Union Saint-Gilloise was watched by a crowd of just 3,713.

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It saw a continuation of the running theme throughout the friendly matches – plenty of possession, not enough ruthlessness in attack and some sloppy errors at the back.

Just five goals have been scored in six matches against lower level opposition, while the Blues have often let their guard drop at crucial moments.

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Pre-season results often count for little though. In 1991, Town lost twice in Finland, drew against Lincoln and Peterborough and were beaten 3-0 by Scunthorpe. Jason Dozzell, Chris Kiwomya and co went on to win the league.

It’s performances that really matter at this time of year and getting everyone to the first league game in good shape.

Town have, crucially, got creative duo Teddy Bishop and David McGoldrick – so badly missed when sidelined last season – through the schedule with no further set-backs. Bishop, in particular, looks bright.

And while a new passing approach is clearly still work in progress, the Blues have provided plenty of evidence that they can be more aesthetically pleasing in what will be their 15th successive campaign in the second-tier.

The aimless punts out from the back are being kept to a minimum. Mick McCarthy has clearly instructed his side to mix it up a bit more and that may well catch a few teams out that come to Suffolk expecting a fight.

Clutching at straws? Perhaps. A decent start is certainly required or you sense the mood could quickly turn sour.

It’s probably a little premature for any doom and gloom predictions just yet though, no matter how tough the task ahead looks.

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