Staying up, avoiding unwanted records and planning for the future... Town's objectives for the remaining 13 games
PUBLISHED: 06:00 19 February 2019 | UPDATED: 22:26 19 February 2019
© Copyright Stephen Waller
Ipswich Town are nine points adrift of safety at the foot of the Championship table. STUART WATSON takes a look at the objectives for the remaining 13 games.
Town are now 1/20 for relegation – and there’s a reason for that.
Since the Championship was rebranded in 2004/05 only one team has had fewer points on the board at this stage – Rotherham with 17 after 33 games in 2016/17 – and they finished a whopping 28 points adrift of safety.
But it’s not over until the fat lady sings.
The lowest tally anyone has stayed up with in modern times is Bolton with 43 points last season.
To reach that mark, Ipswich would need to claim 23 points from their remaining 13 games – something like W7 D2 L4 or W6 D5 L2.
A reminder that their form over the last 13 league games reads: W2 D3 L8.
Their remaining 13 fixtures are: Wigan (a), Reading (h), West Brom (a), Bristol City (a), Nottm Forest (h), Hull (h), Bolton (a), Brentford (a), Birmingham (h), Preston (a), Swansea (h), Sheff U (a), Leeds (h).
NOT FINISH BOTTOM
Ipswich have only finished bottom of table twice in their 82-year professional history – both times that was in the top-flight.
The first came in 1963/64, two years after Sir Alf Ramsey’s side had been crowned champions of England, the second came in 1994/95 when the Blues lost 9-0 to Manchester United on their way out of the Premiership.
Recent history shows it takes at least 39 points to finish 23rd. For that, Town would need: W5 D4 L4 or W4 D7 L2.
AVOID LEAGUE RECORDS
With 20 points on the board Town have already matched the lowest total in Football League history for a 46-game season (Doncaster in 1997/98).
They need four more to surpass the lowest-ever points for a 46-game second-tier season (Rotherham in 2016/17).
Blackpool have registered the fewest wins in Championship history (four in 2014/15). Town need two more to surpass that.
Doncaster lost 34 times in 97/98. Rotherham lost 33 games in 16/17. The most Town can finish with is 32.
Leyton Orient/Rotherham hold the record for the most number of defeats in an away campaign with 21 out of 23 in 94/95 and 16/17 respectively. The maximum Ipswich can end up with is 20.
AVOID CLUB RECORDS
Town have claimed 20 points from their opening 33 games. Repeat their form of the last 13 games and they would finish on 29 points.
Here are the club-record points lows:
• 27pts in 94/95 (42 games in the Premiership).
• 55pts in 16/17 (low for a 46-game, three-points-for-a-win season in the second-tier).
Town have won three of their 33 games so far. Repeat their form of the last 13 games and they would finish with five wins.
They have only ended up in single figures for league victories just four times in the club’s history – nine in 63/64 and 93/94, seven in 94/95 and nine in 01/02 – and all of those campaigns were in the top-flight.
The fewest league wins for a second-tier season was 11 out of 42 (in 54/55), while the fewest for a 46-game season was 12 (in 09/10).
Town have lost 19 of their 33 games so far. Repeat their form of the last 13 games and they would finish with 27 league defeats.
The Blues have lost 20+ league games only 10 times in their history. The most ever was 29 (Premiership, 94/95). The most in the second-tier was 25 (out of 42 games, in 54/55), while the most for a 46-game season was 21 (in 51/52).
Town have scored 25 goals in 33 league games so far. Repeat their form of the last 13 games and they would end up with 33.
They’ve ended the season with fewer than 40 goals just four times in their history – all were 42-game seasons in the top-flight.
The lowest goals total ever was 32 in 85/86.
The lowest for a second-tier season was 48 in both 12/13 and 16/17.
DEVELOP PLAYING IDENTITY
Paul Lambert has talked about developing ‘an identity to the way we play’.
It’s clear his principles centre around passing out from the back.
In the diamond midfield he might just have found his formation of choice.
The Blues boss says the club needs to build around its homegrown talent. Myles Kenlock, Flynn Downes and Teddy Bishop are getting regular game-time at present. Might we soon see some more of Andre Dozzell, Josh Emmanuel and Tristan Nydam, as well as one or two others from the younger age groups?
GET HURST SIGNINGS BACK ON TRACK
It might also be prudent to build back up the confidence of the players recruited from lower leagues by previous boss Paul Hurst if Town are heading for the second-tier.
Jon Nolan scored against Derby and then started against Stoke. Toto Nsiala, Gwion Edwards, Ellis Harrison and Kayden Jackson could also still have important roles going forwards.
There may come a time when short-term additions make way for some of the above.
Of the current short-term signings it looks like Alan Judge and Will Keane are the two Ipswich have the best chance of keeping.
There’s uncertainty surrounding whether the 12 month extension option in Judge’s contract is fully in Town’s favour, while Keane will be a free agent when his Hull deal expires.
The Blues have an option to extend Luke Chambers’ deal by a further year. The skipper says he wants to stay, Lambert has said he wants him to stay, so you imagine that will get resolved.
Grant Ward’s situation is complicated by the fact he is currently sidelined by a cruciate knee ligament injury. Tom Adeyemi will almost certainly be released after more than a year on the sidelines.
Decisions also need to be made on Kenlock, Emmanuel, Jordan Spence, Conor McKendry and Chris Smith.