It is fair to say that Ipswich Town have performed above early season expectations, which now they’re right in the hunt for a Premier League place.
The Tractor Boys are currently in fourth position, just three points off an automatic promotion spot. But with just two wins in their last six league matches, Ipswich know a play-off finish is by no means guaranteed. Brentford, in seventh, are only two points away from Ipswich and, with tough games coming up for the club, the up-coming weeks could determine whereabouts they finish in the Championship.
Since taking over in November 2012, manager Mick McCarthy has performed excellently, especially considering the mess they were in when he took over. Before he became boss, the club were 12 games without a win and in all sorts of trouble on and off the pitch. But McCarthy led the team from the foot of the table to the safety of 14th in his first season in charge. Last season was another consolidation but this time round, he has managed to get the very best out of a squad built from mainly free agents and nurturing young talent.
Before the transfer window where Freddie Sears was brought in from Colchester for an undisclosed fee, the entire squad had been assembled for just £10,000 under McCarthy’s reign. Tyrone Mings was the only man that had cost anything when he was signed from non-league Chippenham in 2013.
The manager’s ability to bring through and improve young players has allowed the 21-year-old left back to shine and become one of Ipswich’s leading players this season. But the way Mick McCarthy has bought wisely in the transfer windows and got the best out of his players should be commended, because not many other mangers could have got this team to fourth in one of the hardest and most competitive leagues in Europe.
Whilst Mings has been a key player for the Tractor Boys and a talent that has caught the eye of a number of Premier League clubs, Daryl Murphy has been the stand-out player for club this season. The 31-year-old striker has found a new lease of life at Ipswich, in a career that threatened to wind-down and not reach the once high potential.
It was Roy Keane who first gave Murphy a chance to impress at Portman Road back in 2010 while on a loan spell from Sunderland. The Irishman scored six times before signing for Celtic, but he only made 19 league appearances in his time in Scotland. He spent two more years on loan to Ipswich before finally becoming a permanent signing in the summer of 2013. Murphy managed 13 goals last season and is well clear as the league’s top scorer with 21 goals this time round. He is at long last proving himself to be the prolific goalscorer many tipped him to be whilst at Sunderland nearly a decade ago.
Apart from Mings and Murphy, there is plenty of experience and talent in the squad that McCarthy has built over the past couple of years. The experience lies in the likes of Jay Tabb and Christophe Berra, who are very good players at this level that work extremely hard for the team, along with the Hunt brothers. Berra adds that bit of quality at the back needed to succeed at this level.
David McGoldrick has been a very popular and effective signing since joining in 2013. The Republic of Ireland international scored 14 goals last season and is proving to be a more than suitable partner for the prolific Daryl Murphy. Young players such as Luke Hyam and 18-year-old midfielder Ed Bishop have also impressed, with Bishop tipped for big things in the future.
In Mick McCarthy, Ipswich have one of the best managers in the division that has assembled a very competent squad full of youth and experience. We are now in the business end of the season and McCarthy’s knowhow to succeed at this level could prove vital for the Tractor Boys. It has been 13 years since Ipswich Town were a Premier League club, but now they have a good a chance as any to put that right with promotion this season.