Stuart Watson’s verdict: Reality check, but still plenty of reasons to be cheerful for Ipswich Town
- Credit: Picture: Steve Waller
How ironic that Ipswich Town had chosen to label Saturday as ‘999 Day’ in tribute to the emergency services.
After seeing his side totally outclassed on home turf by Fulham, honest-as-ever Blues boss Mick McCarthy quipped: “Someone call the police because there’s just been a murder on the pitch.”
The margin of defeat was 2-0 but that didn’t tell the whole story. The Cottagers had 70% of possession, they twice hit the woodwork and forced a string of saves out of keeper Bartosz Bialkowski.
It was a reminder of where Town are at – still a million miles away from being Championship promotion contenders in what is their 16th successive season at this level.
Deep down we all knew that though.
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Even the most optimistic of fans recognised that Town had ridden their luck for spells in all four of their opening league wins against Birmingham, Barnsley, Millwall and Brentford.
Mid-table with some more dynamic, entertaining and positive displays that would reunite fans and club again was, realistically, all we could ask for in a division of big-spenders.
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And Saturday’s defeat shouldn’t take away from the fact that there has been plenty of evidence of the above in a better-than-expected opening month.
Now the dust has settled on a hectic period of seven games in 22 days it’s time for some perspective heading into the first international break.
Off the back of their lowest finish in 58 years, Town have just enjoyed their best league start in 43 years and produced two positive performances in the Carabao Cup. That’s some turnaround.
It’s even more remarkable when you consider the lengthy injury list.
McCarthy is playing the kids and he’s picking attack-minded teams. Was it foolhardy to play all four strikers again at the weekend and stick with the bold system at the break? Probably. Better that than constant cautiousness and shutting up shop though.
Those clinical, enjoyable opening wins shouldn’t be dismissed as coming against weak opposition either.
Barnsley beat Sunderland 3-0 on Saturday, while Millwall thrashed Norwich 4-0. Town are second-top and the Canaries are second-bottom.
Ipswich will face few better sides than Fulham. There are still reasons to be cheerful.