Mike Bacon: An Ipswich Town pre-season – and a time to learn....nothing!
- Credit: Archant
In his weekly column, MIKE BACON takes a look at pre-season. Is it all it’s cracked up to be?
Yes, Ipswich Town fans...Love it or loath it, pre-season is upon us!
But, are you a fan?
Whether it's a trip to Ireland (often of late), or the current four-team tournament in Germany (different, but sounds fun), one thing is for sure...You, me - and if they're being honest - most managers, will learn very little - and I mean very little - from pre-season games.
I didn't agree with Mick McCarthy on many things - apart from one of his more prophetic comments that you can go from GOD to DOG in football management - which he then rather expertly showed us.
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But I did agree with him about pre-season games of which I was always under the impression he wasn't a huge fan.
He is not alone.
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"Shambles", "disgraceful", "embarrassing", were just some of the words used by McCarthy to describe - no, not Town's FA Cup record under his tenure in Suffolk - but Town's 1-6 thrashing at Charlton in a pre-season friendly in 2017. Remember it?
That, by the way, before Town then went on to win their first five games of that new Championship season - flirting with the top position for a nanosecond. Exciting times... Didn't last obviously!
But you see what I mean? What's the point of pre-season matches? They tell you nothing.
If you ask me, apart from a chance for clubs to flog new shirts, put out silly team-sheets that say 'A TRIALIST', 'A TRIALIST AGAIN', they are just a way of showing off a groundsman's new grass-cutting skills.... "That pitch looks a picture, don't you think Jim-Bob?" - which quite frankly after months of watering, cuddling, cutting and kissing the grass that no-one else has been allowed to touch, should be the case!
If it looks the same 'picture' in the middle of February, come back and tell me, then I'll be impressed.
Now, rather strangely (or perhaps I just have a good memory), I know where I was that warm Saturday afternoon two summers ago when Town were getting tonked at Charlton. You'll never guess?
Barcelona? Rome? LA? Sibera?, Outer Mongolia?
No, I was at Henley, in Suffolk, watching Henley FC versus... versus... I can't remember (perhaps I don't have such a good memory)... You've guessed it, in a pre-season friendly!
Don't ask me why.
OK, if you insist, it was because my wife and kids were over in Spain and I was joining them later, so had a weekend to kill - that's my excuse anyhow.
In saying that, I enjoyed it at Henley, nice club, good facilities.
It rather all goes against the grain of this topic I suppose.
Here I am ridiculing pre-season friendlies and then admitting to going to one.
But you see, that's the problem.
As footie fans we are wooed into pre-season.
We know it doesn't make sense but, like checking our phones every five minutes to see if we have had a text, we can't help ourselves.
We're lulled by a lust to see football again. Top up the tan. Sing songs, meet up with old friends.
Two months without a 'live' game and we've gone stir crazy, even to the point of paying good money to watch your team again, even if they do take 49 players to a match, change everyone except the masseur at half-time, draw 0-0 and then listen to the manager telling us there were, 'plenty of positives', to take from that'.
No, it's not for me.
The only good thing about pre-season is the fact I still have a summer holiday to come!
In saying that, I hope all Town fans in Germany will have a great time in the week ahead. German beer is good - so I hear!
But do remember - the result is irrelevant. And be aware, you learn nothing.
I give you a most recent example.
Paul Hurst's Blues beat Crawley, Barnet and MK Dons last July in pre-season - all in the space of a week! That's three wins - yes, three wins.
It was January before we had three more!
I'll go now. Enjoy pre-season.
UP THE TOWN!