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By Stuart Watson
Friday, November 9, 2012
ONE point a game will probably not be enough.
That is the situation facing increasingly relegation-threatened Ipswich Town after the club’s worst-ever 15-game start to a season outside of English football’s top-flight was equalled this week.
Tuesday night’s 5-0 hammering at Crystal Palace leaves the Blues rock-bottom of the Championship, five points adrift of safety and with an embarrassing minus 20 goal difference – comfortably the worst record in the Football League.
Never in the club’s proud 76-year professional history have fewer points been on the board at this stage of a season outside of the top tier.
In the 1954/55 campaign there was also just 10 claimed from the opening 15 games. Scott Duncan’s side ended up finishing 21st and being relegated straight back down to Division Three South.
Over the last 10 Championship seasons the average number of points required to finish fourth-from-bottom has been 50. That leaves the Blues requiring an estimated 40 points from their remaining 31 games – an average of 1.29 per game.
Town were just one point better off at this stage of the season under the management of Roy Keane three years’ ago. Things rapidly improved and, after losing just eight of their remaining matches that season, a 15th place finish was salvaged.
The following season, a return of 27 points from the opening 15 games had many fans dreaming of promotion. The Blues soon slipped down the table though and, after Paul Jewell replaced Keane in the New Year, another 15th-place finish ensued.
Portsmouth and Coventry both had more points on the board than Town currently have at this stage of last season and ended up being relegated. On the flip-side, Bristol City had just 10 points after their opening 15 games and ended up finishing nine points clear of the drop zone.
It proves just how quickly things can change in the relentless and unpredictable world of the Championship. There is still a lot of football to be played, but, with the games coming thick and fast, manager Mick McCarthy knows that the gap can’t become much bigger.
Winning at home is likely to be crucial, with the Blues – currently in the middle of the club’s worst ever winless league run at Portman Road – hosting Burnley tomorrow afternoon.