End of term report on Ipswich Town

AT THE end of another frustrating season for Ipswich Town fans, it is time to take stock and assess whether the club really is making progress towards a return to the Premiership.

AT THE end of another frustrating season for Ipswich Town fans, it is time to take stock and assess whether the club really is making progress towards a return to the Premiership.

Most fans will feel that the team is in better shape to face the future at the end of this season than it was in May 2006 - but the end of term report for the club and manager Jim Magilton shows there is still some way to go.

Team performance: 6/10. A mixed performance on the pitch left the fans really fearing getting sucked into a relegation battle at times.

However victories at crucial times and some spectacular performances - including home wins against champions Sunderland, old enemy Norwich and local upstarts Colchester - showed the fans that the nucleus of a fine team was emerging if they could perform consistently well.

Jim Magilton: 6/10. Jim's first season as a manager was unspectacular but showed enough promise to suggest that he could mature into a fine boss.

He managed to control the fiery side of his character that he showed on the pitch - at least in public - and showed he was boss by taking decisive action over the breach of discipline over the Amsterdam trip.

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Next season he needs to inspire his team into more consistent performances to keep the fans happy.

David Sheepshanks: 5/10. His time at the helm might not last much longer if new investors do come in - and in any case another mid-table performance next year could see the end of his long tenure in the chair at Portman Road.

His financial management and general leadership would have merited 6/10 - but loses a point in our books because of his decision to take a £25,000 bonus in November.

Derek Bowden: 6/10. A reasonable performance behind the scenes for the chief executive. Needs to come out from the shadows of the chairman more. Again he would have scored more had he not taken a £46,000 bonus from the club.

Overall Ipswich Town could have done better over the last nine months - but there are signs that things could get better in the future. Much will depend on changes that Magilton makes to the squad over the next three months.

Over recent years the Championship has regularly seen clubs who have underperformed one year emerging as a real force the following season - ask fans of Derby, Watford, and Portsmouth over recent years.

Town fans will be hoping for a step change in the team's performance in 2007/8 with the club heading straight for the highest level of English football.

SATURDAY'S visit by “Flying Spam Can” Tangmere will have delighted steam train fans who flocked to the main line to see this historic locomotive haul a train from Norfolk to London.

The Oliver Bulleid-designed Southern Railway express locomotive was a reminder to all that steam engines are like living machines, a real delight for millions of people.

And it shows that the best way of seeing these engines is at the head of a train so you can hear, feel and smell them as well as seeing them.

Long may our lines be open to steam specials at weekends and bank holidays.

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