Monday verdict: Everything in the garden not rosy, but this spirited group deserves our support
The thing about cliches is that they came into being for a reason.
Take some of the phrases we so often hear when it comes to Championship football.
‘It’s a marathon, not a sprint’, ‘things can change very quickly in this division’, ‘there’s more than one way to win a game’.
All of the above are applicable to Ipswich Town following Saturday’s gritty 1-0 win at Huddersfield.
A few days ago, after a narrow 1-0 home loss to then league-leaders Hull made it five defeats from six in all competitions, there was an almost tangible sense of doom and gloom surrounding the club.
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The letters of complaints came flooding in to this newspaper. The style of football is boring, promotion is impossible while the owner sticks to his frugal transfer budget, Ipswich, the second-tier’s longest-serving club, are going nowhere fast. That was the general gist
Does one victory change all of that? Of course not. But it does act as a timely reminder that now is the time to get behind a group of players that always give their all when they pull on the shirt. For all their limitations, this is a team that deserves our support.
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Some will argue that Saturday’s win at the John Smiths Stadium simply papers over the cracks temporarily. Ipswich scored with their only shot on target, while the Terriers played with panache under the management of former Borussia Dortmund coach David Wagner. Ipswich looked rigid and one-dimensional by comparison, but Mick McCarthy’s tactical switch stifled the hosts and his players dug deep, as they so often do.
The Blues boss then proclaimed, rather bizarrely, that he was ‘sick of talking about the play-offs’. Was that a clever ploy to take the pressure off his injury-hit squad and re-establish that underdog tag that served them so well in 2014/15, or simply an honest admittance that he feels another top-six finish is unlikely and an attempt to manage expectations?
The pessimist in me fears there just isn’t enough quality in the ranks to finish in the play-offs again. And yet, Town are back within four points of sixth with 13 games still to play.
Scrapping out away results is all well and good, but Ipswich need to improve at home.
They need to get on the front foot, try to create and try to dictate. The seven fixtures left to play at Portman Road – Nottingham Forest, Blackburn, Rotherham, Charlton, Brentford, Fulham and MK Dons – will all require that approach. Show willingness to do so and the fans will soon be back on board.