Ipswich have managed to keep the hopes of their fans alive this season by hanging onto their position just outside of the play-off positions without actually spending much time inside the top six.
Many are of the opinion that whilst it is nice to see the team still competing at this stage in the season, the team is not yet strong enough to compete in the play-offs and definitely not ready for the Premier League.
It is fair to say that the current Ipswich is team is lacking in quality and they are very much punching above their weight right now.
If you look Ipswich’s results against the teams currently in the play-offs then it doesn’t make for the best reading. Mick McCarthy’s side have only picked up seven points from a possible 24 against Derby, QPR, Wigan and Reading.
Furthermore, three of those seven points came against Reading and if Ipswich were to make the play-offs then it would most likely be at their expense. If you were to take the Tractor Boys results against Reading out of the equation then they have picked up just four points out of a possible 18 against Derby, QPR and Wigan which is not encouraging to hear at this time of the season.
I have mentioned before that McCarthy’s side will suffer against the better teams in the division because of their style but by no means is that a criticism of the approach that the Ipswich boss has taken.
The former Wolves man is working with what is a below average budget for the Championship but he has managed to create a team that grinds out results and is capable of making the top six. Even McCarthy’s harshest critics can’t deny the fact that the team are over achieving at present and the team have not been this high in the table at this time in the season for many years.
Despite the obvious gap in quality between Ipswich and the likes of Derby, QPR and Wigan I do think there is reason to be quietly optimistic if the Suffolk side do sneak into the play-off places.
Often it is found that the team gaining promotion to the Premier League through the play-off system is the one that finishes 5th or 6th rather than 3rd or 4th and there are a few good reasons for this.
First of all, if a team has just snatched a play-off spot right at the end of the season then it usually means they are hitting good form at the right time and that should carry forward into those crucial play-off games. If Ipswich do make the top six you would have thought they would do it in this manner and there would be a great feel-good factor around the place whereas there may well be a more nervous atmosphere surrounding the other sides.
Secondly, the underdog status would no doubt help the Tractor Boys cause as there would be no expectation to achieve promotion and teams like Wigan could well be negatively affected by the hype around their team’s chances.
Lastly the return of David McGoldrick would be a huge boost to Ipswich. Many forget that Ipswich have not only improved but they have done it without their best player.
By no means am I saying that Ipswich would be the favourites to go up should they put themselves in that position come the end of the regular season but I certainly think it would not be out of the question even though most have completely written them off.