Happy to see the back of 2009

AS Ipswich Town head into Christmas 2009, there are few Blues fans would have imagined at the start of the campaign, Town would be where they are in the Championship table.

Mike Bacon

By Mike Bacon

AS Ipswich Town head into Christmas 2009, there are few Blues fans would have imagined at the start of the campaign, Town would be where they are in the Championship table.

Saturday's postponed game at Scunthorpe has left Roy Keane's side sitting in 21st position, and after all the hype of the summer, it was the top six, not the bottom six, Town fans would have expected their side to be come Christmas.

But it hasn't worked out that way.

So as we come up to the half-way point of the campaign, what is the outlook for 2010, Keane and Ipswich Town?

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Well there is little doubt the Ipswich boss, despite his team's lack of success on the park, still has most Ipswich Town fans on his side.

And why shouldn't he?

Keane is not an excuse-maker. He doesn't suffer fools gladly and his overall honesty in what has been a poor start to the campaign for his side, has done him no harm.

He knows it is no good talking about climbing tables and pushing for play-offs, even though he may well believe it, until the results actually start to happen.

"Talk is cheap," he said in his press conference ahead of Saturday's scheduled game with Scunthorpe.

So is a play-off position really out of the question for Ipswich Town this campaign? One look at the Championship table would suggest perhaps not.

Ipswich are currently 13 points away from a play-off place. And in a league where only Newcastle United appear to know the word consistency, it gives hope for all.

Keane has already done a similar feat with Sunderland three seasons ago when he lifted them into the Premiership from the depths of the Championship.

And in George Burley's third full season in 1997/98, Ipswich went on an astonishing run of form that saw them lose just once in their final 22 league games on their way to play-off defeat against Charlton.

So it can be done and who's betting against Keane just yet?

Town's trip to Crystal Palace on Boxing Day will not be easy, and they go into the game now without three key players, Grant Leadbitter and Jon Walters serving a one-match ban they should have served at Scunthorpe, while Stern John, on loan from Palace, won't play against the Eagles as part of the loan agreement between the two clubs.

Town however are unbeaten in 10 Championship games, and that type of record has kick-started many a club's play-off push.

If they can become a little less shot-shy, start scoring more goals, then maybe the draws will turn into wins.

It's a big ask from the position they are in, but having hauled themselves out of the bottom three, you can bet your life there is only one way Keane and his side are looking . . . and that's up.

(N) WHAT do you think? Can Town make the play-offs? Are you encouraged with what you have witnessed at Portman Road this season? Let us know sport@eadt.co.uk

mike.bacon@archant.co.uk

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