Northstander: Painful gap in class a reminder of Ipswich Town’s modest aspirations

Neeskens Kebano celebrates after scoring to give Fulham a 1-0 lead at Portman Road yesterday. Photo:

Neeskens Kebano celebrates after scoring to give Fulham a 1-0 lead at Portman Road yesterday. Photo: Steve Waller - Credit: Picture: Steve Waller

I guess that was the wake-up call we all knew was inevitable, sooner or later. Our injury-ravaged squad couldn’t realistically be expected to keep winning game after game.

Fulham are class – even stronger than they looked last season. The gulf between us and them was painful to witness, but that’s the reality of our situation.

The game summed up the tough job McCarthy has. If he’d changed a winning line-up to, say, bring Downes in to snap at the heels of the Fulham midfielders, I’ve no doubt some would have accused him of worrying about the opposition too much. ‘Typical negative Mick’, and all that.

In my opinion, we would have been better off having young Downes in from the start. But then presumably Sears would have been left out, meaning even more room for the rampaging Fulham full-backs.

Let’s face it, sometimes you have to hold your hands up and admit you’ve been beaten by a better team. Fulham will be in the top six, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they challenge for automatic promotion.

As for Town, it’s been a great start. Four wins out of five and second in the table going into the break. We would all have taken that at the start of the season, wouldn’t we?

Hopefully some of the injured players will be available in a fortnight’s time. We certainly need them. I don’t like the sound of Emyr Huws’ injury. We’re really missing him in central midfield, and it seems like he’s going to be out for a long time.

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So now we know the size of the gap between us and the best teams in the division. No great surprises. A realistic goal for this season is to see progress. By that, I mean finishing halfway or just above, no nervous looking over our shoulder at the relegation zone. I know they are modest aspirations, but that’s reality.

To finish this week, I can’t resist a mention of our friends in Norfolk. I’m not one of those who derives pleasure from them struggling, but I do think their situation is a warning.

Yes, opinions on Mick are divided, and there were times last season when it appeared a large majority of fans wanted him to go. But, here’s the lesson. During Mick’s time at Ipswich, Norwich have had four different managers - and look at the league table.

Continuity isn’t always exciting, but it tends to deliver a better result in the long run.