Written by David Robinson
Limited resources and a small squad, manager Mick McCarthy has taken the Tractor Boys well beyond expectations and really higher than they should be with all factors considered. Ipswich Town have been in the Championship since 2004 which is quite remarkable and while McCarthy has given the club a huge boost you have to question how much further they can actually go…
A first full season (2013-14) under the Irishmen lead the club to a 9th place finish which was impressive following a previously relegation threatened season. An even better season was to follow with a play-off place occupied at the end of the campaign however an agonising defeat in the Semi-Finals to bitter rivals Norwich would have left a hard blow but equally an appetite to get a second chance of promotion. Last season, Portman Road saw a 7th place finish which is still hugely impressive although a play-off place was highly unlikely towards the end of the season. While there could be plenty of positives still to take, the potential of the club becoming stuck in the Championship looks more and more real. While I believe the ‘Championship is getting worse’ there is still nothing wrong with staying in one of the most exciting and competitive leagues the world has to offer but I believe the Suffolk Club are at risk of enduring much tougher times against some heavy spenders in the division.
The Tractor Boys have a team largely comprised of free transfers or small transfer fees. Several clever deals have been made at a good financial benefit of the club while also keeping the side competitive. However money is now rising in the second tier and we are seeing clubs taking risks spending millions of pounds in order to reap the financial benefits of the Premier League. This is where you would now expect Ipswich to fall when competing against sides who are spending large amounts and in the recent past we’ve seen clubs spend £10+ million on strikers.
McCarthy has got a team doing the basics superbly. While the style is not eye catching you have to give credit to a manager who can the best out of his group and Ipswich are proven to be successful with their resilient and often direct style. On the other hand it does get to a point where teams must have plenty of dimensions about them over 46 games. Ipswich’s ideas could become far too predictable meaning they could struggle to get results should sides set up well to counter act their strengths. More often than not quality wins games and in terms of individual quality, Ipswich are lagging behind a number of teams. The debate over style of football is a difficult one. While I’m sure fans have been pleased with their sides efforts over the last few seasons, an unattractive style is only acceptable when results are being gained. A poor run of form at the start of the season could easily turn the fans onto McCarthy and the team.
With Aston Villa, Newcastle and Norwich joining the league you would suspect the league will only grow stronger particularly in terms of wealth and spending power. Ipswich have no right to compete with these clubs in terms of resources and therefore risk the possibility of becoming stale. Huge credit has to go to the club for the way have gone about their business and while you wouldn’t want to write them off again, I feel Ipswich could start to enter a period of decline.
Ipswich fans, do you feel your club can still make improvements? Let us know in the comments below!