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Stuart Watson’s Sunday Verdict: Progress for Ipswich Town, but hard to know just how much

PUBLISHED: 12:12 01 October 2017 | UPDATED: 11:02 02 October 2017

There's much to ponder for Ipswich Town boss Mick McCarthy over the next fortnight. Photo: Steve Waller

There's much to ponder for Ipswich Town boss Mick McCarthy over the next fortnight. Photo: Steve Waller

© Copyright Stephen Waller

It’s time to pause, breath, recover, assess and analyse for Ipswich Town.

We’ve reached the second international break of the season after the usual frenetic opening two months of the Championship campaign.

Saturday’s 3-1 home defeat to Bristol City means the Blues have played 10, won six and lost four in the league. They’re eighth in the table with a game in hand on most. They have five more points than they did at this stage last season. This is a replica of the start made during the play-off season of 2014/15.

• Five observations from Ipswich Town’s 3-1 home defeat to Bristol City

They’re scoring more goals (it took them until mid-December to reach 20 last season), on the whole have looked more dynamic and been more entertaining, summer signings have impressed, homegrown players are getting game-time, while there are some key players to return from injury. It’s everything we realistically could have hoped for. And yet...

Four days on from that scintillating 5-2 dismantling of Sunderland on Suffolk soil came a limp showing. Luck and the referee were not on the Blues’ side, but they didn’t help themselves either. The impressive Robins, who must take credit, are now unbeaten in 11 games across all competitions. Town once again came up short against one of the division’s better sides. And that’s the worry.

All six of the teams they’ve beaten are in the bottom half. Five of them are 18th or below. Sunderland game aside, the victories have not been utterly convincing.

We won’t be able to fully judge how far Town have progressed until they’ve played everyone once.

• Mick McCarthy didn’t foresee flat display

After winning the opening five in all competitions, it’s now five losses from seven. There will undoubtedly be plenty more twists and turns to come.

The problem is, there’s a zeitgeist in place. A new generation of fans don’t remember this club in the top-flight, let alone conquering Europe. This is year 16 in the Championship. It’s been a slow and steady decline full of false dawns.

Is it harsh on Mick McCarthy and his players for every small set-back to be hyper-analysed because of that background? Yes, but that’s where we are at.

This season could still go one of two ways. Deep down there’s a nagging sense this is a mid-table outfit at best. At least the ride might be a bit more enjoyable this time around.

• Like our Facebook page for all the latest Blues news

Ipswich Town manager Mick McCarthy has apologised for any offence he caused while celebrating Luke Chambers’ goal at Norwich on Sunday, but has reiterated he did not aim his comments at the Blues fans.

Match highlights from Ipswich Town’s dramatic 1-1 draw with rivals Norwich in the East Anglian derby.

Ipswich Town U23 1

Charlton Athletic U23 2

Shane McLoughlin was on the scoresheet but it wasn’t enough as Ipswich Town’s Under 23’s were beaten 2-1 by Charlton Athletic at Playford Road this afternoon, writes Kieren Standley.

Police have said they are working to identify supporters responsible for criminal damage at Norwich City’s ground ahead of derby clash against Ipswich Town in the East Anglian derby.

Luke Chambers insists Ipswich Town will be fuelled by a desire to finish above rivals Norwich between now and the end of the season.

What an absolute kick in the teeth, writes Karl Fuller in the wake of Ipswich Town’s 1-1 draw with Norwich City at Carrow Road.

What a shame. Mick McCarthy was only seconds away from having another favourite DVD to add to his collection of perfect away performances. You know the ones – shut up shop for the entire second half, then nick a winner from a set-piece, writes Northstander Terry Hunt,

No amount of counselling can get this increasingly fractured long-term relationship with Mick McCarthy and Ipswich Town back on track now.

As the dust continues to settle following Ipswich Town’s dramatic 1-1 draw at Norwich, sports writer Andy Warren hosts our weekly webchat to discuss all the latest goings on at Portman Road.

Captain Luke Chambers deflected any blame away from goalkeeper Bartosz Bialkowski after Ipswich let their lead slip in stoppage time against bitter rivals Norwich.

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