Monday verdict: Game on! McCarthy masterclass nullifies flat-track bullies Watford
Ipswich Town fans were beginning to fear that a season full of promise was about to end in an anti-climax.
Saturday’s dramatic, last-gasp 1-0 win at Watford – a result most, if they were being completely honest, were not expecting – has very much reignited confidence, belief and hope.
Really we should have all come to expect the unexpected in the Championship. ‘Bonkers’ may be a word over-used by manager Mick McCarthy, but it’s difficult to think of a more apt adjective.
Bournemouth now top-the-table after beating Middlesbrough 3-0, Derby are down to fifth following a six-game winless run, while Town have replaced Brentford in the play-off places after the Bees were held to a 2-2 home draw against Millwall.
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Nine points separates the top eight teams with seven games to go. This is seemingly the promotion race that no-one wants to win.
There was an air of smugness about McCarthy following Richard Chaplow’s 94th minute winner at Vicarage Road – and who could blame him?
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The Blues boss’ superb CV, and major progress he has achieved during two-and-a-half years at Portman Road, did not make him immune from criticism recently.
When the going’s good, he’s the miracle man who makes a silk purse out of a sow’s ear. His honest, hard-working, likeable group of players are ones to be proud of.
When the going’s bad, it doesn’t take long for his ultra-loyal team selection and direct style of play to be called into question.
Well Saturday’s victory was a tactical master-class. A starting 4-3-3 system, followed by several in-game tweaks and some timely substitutions, completely nullified flat-track bullies Watford. A team that have been scoring for fun failed to register a single shot on target.
Do Town play the most attractive football in the division? No. Have they got the most heart and the best boss? Probably.
If you can, enjoy the ride.