Can Mick make us more than just mediocre?


I rarely get excited by the start of the football season nowadays.

Even less so in the middle of summers when the temperatures are sweltering and other sports are keeping me entertained (predominately cricket at present).

My lack of interest probably reached its zenith last summer when in the midst of the Olympics and while preparing to get married the day before the first game, I honestly could not have cared less about who Ipswich were playing.

I’m going to put last year’s malaise down to one person. Paul Jewell.

I’ll put the overall indifference down to Ipswich’s record in the Championship over the last decade. No decent promotion challenge since 2005 with the last time coming even remotely close to the play offs being 2008.

We don’t do promotion challenges, well not in this decade at least. We do mid-table mediocrity or if you’re lucky, a relegation zone scrap until mid-March before a relatively strong finish to the respectability of 16th!

But, maybe, just maybe, this season could be different.

It’s a chance for Mick McCarthy to show how he steered a squad full of under performing and under motivated players out of danger and into relative safety from a position of utter despair last season.

To use an old football cliche, he really has put his stamp on the team now with 10 new signings over the course of the summer testament to that addage. At the same time, gone are some of those aforementioned under performers.

However, Town fans have seen this happen before in recent history and very little has changed. After all, we are the Championship’s longest servants.

That division we know all too well by now yet again looks set to be a strongly contested one. There are a large number of sides rightly labelled promotion contenders.

But, there’s something different about Mick McCarthy and the way he goes about his business that gives this great pessimist some confidence. He knows how to motivate players, he surrounds himself with hard-working characters, who are prepared in his own words, “to put a real shift in”.

Defender Christophe Berra epitomises this spirit and his addition to the squad probably stands out as the summer’s key addition.

David McGoldrick and Frank Nouble look set to lead the line and the goal threat along with Daryl Murphy and the fit-again Paul Taylor. Midfield creators Cole Skuse and Paul Anderson will join other relatively new faces Anthony Wordsworth and Jay Tabb.

McCarthy may have chosen not to splash the cash on one big name signing, but what he has done is identify players he can build a squad around with strong cover and resilience. That strategy was in evidence towards the end of last season when his rotation of personnel helped keep everyone fresh and motivated to perform at a crucial time.

I never usually make predictions on where we might finish or how our season might unfold, but on this occasion I will make one. We will have a very tough start.

Reading away, followed by Millwall at home and then QPR away represent a tricky first three games with a league cup trip to Stevenage sandwiched in between. Following that, a home game with Leeds and then a trip to Birmingham finish off a busy first month.

I’ll try not to get in too much of a panic if we’re not pulling up any trees in the top six come September. I just hope the majority of town fans can do the same and believe in Mick’s philosophy.

….now, when does the next Ashes test match start?

Written by Adam Williams, We Are Going Up’s Ipswich Town blogger

Adam tweets at @adam_j_williams

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