Dave Gooderham: The stats which show Ipswich Town are well and truly back - so let's enjoy it!
PUBLISHED: 16:27 25 September 2019 | UPDATED: 16:27 25 September 2019
We might have accepted it at different times, but I am sure every Ipswich Town fan knew we were doomed for a large chunk of last season, writes Dave Gooderham.
For me, the realisation came pretty early. I started to fear the worst, and accept it, after Ipswich somehow turned a midweek win into a defeat at home to Bristol City - a staggering six months before the end of the season.
Being a football fan, I wasn't going to admit to this publicly. Paul Lambert had come in and we were duty bound to back 'The Great Escape' which of course never came, despite an impressive and renewed love-in between team and fans.
Given that I had so much time to accept our fate, I actually, and quickly, starting thinking that relegation might be a good thing.
This isn't one of those 'I told you so' columns but Ipswich were stagnant in the Championship. They needed a break from below mid-table mediocrity, learning how to win and enjoy football again. The same was certainly true for the long-suffering fans.
Of course, as was pointed out to me in private discussions, relegation was a dangerous thing. Just ask the string of big teams who haven't gone back up in the first instance - or indeed gone further down. But I just had a feeling - based on probably nothing more than the delusions of a hopeful football fan.
Well almost. Just as Lambert did, we could all prepare for League One life a good few months before our fate was sealed. I started looking at the make-up of our squad and two main things gave me hope.
One was our pretty incredible pool of young talent (at this level at least). And the other was that we were so poor last season that most clubs wouldn't have even considered trying to sign our players at a reduced rate. Knudsen and Bart were always likely to go but in truth there were no vultures circling over Portman Road in the summer.
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The same cannot be said now, but we'll save that discussion for another day. Instead, let focus on the stats - and some rather impressive ones at that.
Deep breath....a club-record-equalling fifth successive clean sheet for the Blues, four goals conceded all season, nine games unbeaten, seven competitive wins achieved in 50 days. The staggering side-issue about the last stat is that it took the Blues 391 days to record their previous seven wins.
This is getting pretty ridiculous now. This just doesn't happen to Ipswich Town. Let's throw in another, quite magical, number - 25. The amount of passes completed by a total of nine different Town players at Gillingham on Saturday before Kane Vincent-Young netted the game's only goal.
Quite something and a world away from the standard of football we grew accustomed to over the last few seasons.
Of course, the most important figure was one, as Ipswich rose to the top of League One again. They will remain a big target for league opponents, but teams will also fear facing Ipswich, especially as they still haven't quite hit top gear.
Quite remarkable. Decent football, even better results, and a positive attitude seeping out of every Portman Road pore. Even when questions are slightly raised over Lambert's tinkering, as happened prior to the Gillingham win, his side come out on top, literally arms aloft at the final whistle.
Ahead of a relentless October - more of that next week - we prepare to welcome struggling Tranmere Rovers, former employers of James Norwood.
There is currently a sense of expectation around every match, which means we are left slightly disappointed and deflated when a 90 minutes doesn't quite live up to standard. The recent goalless draw at Doncaster Rovers was a prime example of that.
In a sense, we should temper expectations. But why should we? Why should we not go into games confident and looking forward to a 3pm or 7.45pm kick off?
We have waited a long time to feel like this, so let's enjoy it!