Stuart Watson’s verdict: Ipswich Town fans reconnecting with club after summer of reconciliation
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Credit Mick McCarthy and everyone at Ipswich Town for a summer of reconciliation – bit-by-bit Blues fans are connecting with their club again.
Saturday’s come-from-behind 2-1 win at Barnsley continued the perfect start to 2017/18. This is the first time in 15 years that Ipswich have won their opening three matches. If they claim maximum points at Millwall on Tuesday night it will be the first time since the promotion season of 1999/00 that a campaign has started with four straight victories.
Let’s not get carried away. The mood, you sense, is still fragile. It could have been a very different story had Birmingham, Luton and Barnsley all been more ruthless when dominating. And there are undoubtedly tougher tests ahead.
Fortune favours the brave though. McCarthy played homegrown trio Myles Kenlock, Flynn Downes and Tristan Nydam from the start. He then made bold half-time changes and began the second half with four strikers on the field. Super subs David McGoldrick and Martyn Waghorn got the goals. How very refreshing.
Maybe Mick is not so obstinate after all? The siege mentality inside the camp went too far during second half of last season. McCarthy made ill-judged comments about supporters’ opinion being ‘pub chat’ and how fans’ negativity was not helping. Some behind-the-scenes were convinced gloomy media coverage was driving the disillusionment.
How very patronising. Long-serving fans have their own eyes and minds and around 2,000 of them decided not to renew their season tickets.
Instead of burying their heads in the sand, Town reacted. A summer of good PR work helped mend some bridges, as has McCarthy’s tone of contrition and appeasement.
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He’s added dynamism to a squad that produced too many predictable, one-dimensional, one-paced displays. He’s playing the kids. And he’s giving it a go.
Town fans were never demanding sexy, one-touch, pass-them-off-the-park football. That wasn’t realistic on a budget. What was reasonable was the desire to see some pace, positivity, tempo and aggression.
McCarthy had never lost the hearts and minds of his players. He had started to lose a few of the fans’ though. A good start was needed to get that all-important unity back. Now Town – manager, players and fans – can go forwards together again.