Balls.co.uk spoke to Ipswich Town fanzine, TWTD, before the Tractor Boys defeated Fulham at Portman Road on Saturday.
The wait is over – the football is back in earnest today as the Championship returns for another season. Ahead of their less-than-straightforward opener at home to Fulham this evening, we spoke to Blair Ferguson of independent Ipswich Town fanzine Those Were The Days (TWTD), for his thoughts on last year’s spirited showing for the Tractor Boys and how he feels 2014/15 will pan out …
“Ipswich Town finished last season as overachievers. Finishing 8th, and only four points off the play-offs, was unexpected but a very welcome surprise.
“This time last season my words would of talked of building a platform to build on for this forthcoming campaign but thankfully, maybe somewhat disconcertingly Ipswich skipped a step.
“A strong season builds expectation but with no readily available funds in the war chest Mick McCarthy has to build with freebies and loans. This is sometimes a one step forward and two steps back affair and can see a tea, go backwards.
“The most pleasing part of last season was the strength of the defense – at last the worry of conceding from every set-piece had slowly faded away. This, probably not by coincidence, saw a rise in goals from corners and free-kicks, thanks to the left-foot of Aaron Cresswell, a delivery that will no longer be seen in the blue of Ipswich, instead mixed with the claret of West Ham, his new home.
“McCarthy has been able to add some attacking talent in the form of Alex Henshall, Balint Bajner and the recently injured Cameron Stewart. Hopefully combined with youth product Jack Marriott Ipswich can start to score freely.
“So the long season ahead starts with a home game against Fulham in what is probably a good time to play them because they are a side with a lot of personnel changes. Soon after we welcome our friends from Norfolk to Portman Road, once again probably in enough time to catch them cold and unadjusted to life in the Championship.
“There’s no reason Ipswich can’t replicate what they achieved last season and maybe go even further. The team spirit was the best its been or a long time at Portman Road and was there for all to see on the pitch. A lot hinges on someone stepping into the creative midfield role but if that can happen the play-offs will be a realistic possibility.”
Last season’s position: 9th. Finishing four points off the play-offs is the closest Ipswich have come in some time and it’s been a while since the end of the season was exciting for Town fans.
Odds to win league: I’d want a hefty return for my £1! (The BLues are 25/1 with William Hill).
Players In: Alex Henshall (free – Man City), Cameron Stewart (free – Hull), Jonathan Parr (Crystal Palace – free), Bartosz Bialkowski (signed – Notts County) and Balint Bajner (Borussia Dortmund – free).
Out: Aaron Cresswell (Sold for £3,750,000 West Ham).
Position you’d be happy to finish in 2014/15: 6th
Where you’ll most likely finish: 8th
Key player(s): David McGoldrick – if he can reproduce last season’s form after being out with a knee injury.
Young player(s) to watch: Jack Marriott is a young striker from the academy who could get us some goals given the opportunity.
Manager: Will he be there by the end of the season? I can’t see Mick McCarthy going anywhere unless an offer comes in from a big with a bigger budget.
Worst moment: For me drawing against Bournemouth at home near the end of the season, which was the moment I knew we wouldn’t make the play-offs.
Cheers Blair, and best of luck for the season.
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See also: Today’s Transfer News – Ceefax Style!
And finally, some bonus fun for Blues fans from earlier this summer – 17 reasons why being an Ipswich Supporter is bloody brilliant