Every Ipswich fan across the country will have breathed a sigh of relief after the 1-1 draw against Sheffield Wednesday.
Even though mathematically they need one more point the Tractor Boys should be safe now on 57 points , as it would take a very strange set of scorelines to stop Ipswich from being safe on their current points total.
In terms of the team’s performance it wasn’t the best, Mick McCarthy’s side started well and had a good 25 minutes but couldn’t keep up their pressure. Ipswich just about deserved their lead going into half time but Sheffield Wednesday improved in the second half and were looking the better side by the end.
So it what does this mean for next season? The current side have been playing effective football and producing results worthy of a play-off contending team, but at the same time Saturday’s game looked very much like two mid-table sides battling it out.
Personally, I believe that very few of the current squad members are good enough to command a place in the starting line-up of a top six team. You could argue that with the way the back four are currently playing they all deserve to keep their place but going further up field only Luke Hyam has consistently played well enough to justify his place in the starting line-up for next season.
Obviously there are some of current playing staff that would make great squad players though. Frank Nouble has showed a lot of promise, Jay Tabb and Anthony Wordsworth have been solid, Carlos Edwards still has something to offer and Jay Emmanuel-Thomas is a great impact sub.
Overall McCarthy has a solid base for next season but he will have to make a lot of great signings to make Ipswich strong enough for the play-offs. Richard Stearman, Jay Tabb and David McGoldrick are all players that the Tractor Boys boss will be looking to keep for next season and he will probably need to sign another four of five key players on top of them if he wants to compete at the top end of the division.
Consequently, I think this will be slightly too much to ask as it can take time to build a strong team. I can see Ipswich finishing just outside the top six next season but it also wouldn’t surprise me to see them in the play-off positions for certain parts of the season.
Some would call that prediction pessimistic as the former Wolves boss hasn’t come to Suffolk to sit in mid-table. I have no doubts about McCarthy’s ambition or even his ability, I think he is one of the best managers in the division. However the task of turning relegation candidates into promotion hopefuls in just one transfer window would probably be too much to ask from any manager.
A lot of fans forget that the financial fair play rules will prevent Ipswich from spending huge sums of money and a large part of the team needs replacing. Additionally, I cannot see many quality players choosing to come to Portman Road if they have offers from recently relegated teams or teams that finished much higher in the table than Ipswich this season. Next season should be better but there is a lot of building to do and not much time to do it.