The Verdict: Six-goal friendly thrashing a major reality check for Ipswich Town – things could unravel quickly
“If we play like that again, we as a club are in trouble and I’m in trouble.”
It was the final line of Mick McCarthy’s 10-minute no-punches-pulled assessment of Ipswich Town’s 6-1 friendly thrashing at League One side Charlton on Saturday.
Words such as ‘embarrassing’, ‘disgraceful’ and ‘shambles’ were used and deservedly so. It wasn’t a mis-leading scoreline. In fact, the damage could have been worse.
For the final six months of last season, the Blues boss took on his critics bullishly. Now, heading into his sixth season at Portman Road and the final year of his contract, he has, for the first time, publicly recognised just how precarious his position is.
This newspaper said all that was needed to be said about last season. The lowest finish in 58 years, zero entertainment value, serious questions about just what owner Marcus Evans’ long-term plan is and analysis of how McCarthy’s pragmatic tactics and divisive words added fuel to the flames.
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It seemed only fair to set that rhetoric to one side over the summer though. We desperately wanted to be positive and supportive before a competitive ball was kicked. There has always been a nagging doubt that the good work which has been done is not enough though and this defeat was a major reality check.
Close to £2m spent on transfer fees is a step in the right direction, but in the context of the market it’s still small fry. And it’s hard to see how the club can say the wage bill is higher. Yes, some have signed new improved deals, but it’s still 14 out and four new faces in.
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That’s hardly the major freshening up project that McCarthy spoke of at the beginning of the summer.
There’s undoubtedly been some excellent PR work behind-the-scenes, but it will all count for nothing if the football dished up remains as dire as last season.
McCarthy must feel as if the world is conspiring against him with so many players out injured or sick. In order to have a fighting chance of winning back the fans’ affections, he needed his small squad to be fully fit heading into this Saturday’s opener against Birmingham City at Portman Road.
He hasn’t. In fact, he may just have one senior central midfielder (Cole Skuse) and one senior striker (Freddie Sears) at his disposal.
This situation could unravel very quickly.