Fuller Flavour: This season really feels different - everything is in place

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Tyreece John-Jules and Kayde Jackson applaud the Ipswich Town fans after Saturday's 1-1 draw with Bolton - Credit: Ross Halls

Ipswich Town fan Karl Fuller returns for his 11th season of the Fuller Flavour. Here's what he made of the big kick-off...

Hello and welcome to the 11th chapter of the Flavour - I am hoping that Town’s season will be as hot as some of the recent weather that we have mostly enjoyed.

I know that we normally feel excited this time of year, hoping that this time will be the one, but honestly I am really excited for what this season will bring.

A year ago, I was also excited. But in hindsight, maybe so many signings were never going to work, and the slow start meant that we were always playing catch up.

I recall asking my friends at the time: What if this does not work? What next? We had recently acquired new owners, a new structure, a new manager, and many fresh players. And if that did not work, I was not sure what we could try next.

But what we did not have was a proper backroom team in place and a squad with a season’s worth of foundations in place, supplemented by a smattering of quality rather than quantity.

We left last season with some causes for optimism. Kieran McKenna won a lot of fans over, and a proper team of support staff created.

Big messages before kick-off at Portman Road

Big messages before kick-off at Portman Road - Credit: Pagepix Ltd

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We departed the final game full of hope that a decent summer in the transfer market, adding to those that had a season behind them, could really put us on the front foot for 2022/23.

The last three months has seen many good things to keep the appetite whetted. Season ticket sales have been immense. A sure sign that Town fans are backing the project and believing in the process.

Areas of our ground received much-needed attention, the Ed Sheeran sponsorship deal once again was a major coup and as for the new shirts, how lush are they?

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Ipswich Town fans Mike Turbet and Matthew Worrall - Credit: Ross Halls

You can understand why sales have reached record heights. Even I was donning the new home shirt on Saturday. It has been many years since I last did that!

We had contract extensions for Luke Woolfenden, Wes Burns and Kayden Jackson which should not be underestimated, and from the moment we made our first signing, that transfer deal inevitably had us itching for more.

I liked the Freddie Ladapo signing. At our level, I am sure he will prove to be a real asset. I confess, that I knew nothing about Dominic Ball, Greg Leigh, and Tyreece John-Jules when each of those signed. Ball will be a cracking signing for sure.

And what about ITFC’s social media administrator rousing us from a dozy state at 11pm on a Friday night in mid-July to announce the signing of Marcus Harness? Another excellent signing in our pursuit of success.

The recruitment of Leif Davis from Leeds will hopefully see our left side level up to match how dangerous we looked down the right last season.

On the same day that he signed, Town held their open day which attracted around 6,000 people. That is more than the average attendance of nine league one clubs last season!

I was like a kid on Christmas eve on Friday night but with a hint of nervousness for the season’s opener against Bolton. Pre-match atmosphere saw a real buzz around the ground and my position in the lower SBR stand was deafening as the players emerged.

Bolton made the better start and once they were ahead, I wondered how we could get back into the game. From the moment we did thanks to a set-piece goal at last, we got on top and looked the livelier side.

Ipswich Manager Kieran McKenna before the game on the opening day at Portman Road against Bolton Wan

Ipswich Manager Kieran McKenna before the game on the opening day at Portman Road against Bolton Wanderers. - Credit: Pagepix Ltd

On so many occasions in the second half, the ball did not fall for us. Too many times, Bolton had the rub of the green in their own area. On another day, we would have scored two or three more. Fine tuning, and dare I say, another striker, and we will be amongst the top six in May.

The season has started, and whilst most starts bring excitement, so often it is through sheer hope that something might happen.

This time around, it feels different, genuinely doable. It will not be easy. But this time, almost all the ingredients are in place.

A time that our patience and loyalty - we can all hope - will finally be rewarded.