Stuart Watson's Sunday Verdict: It's unfair to label Ipswich Town fans implacable
PUBLISHED: 11:49 17 September 2017 | UPDATED: 12:12 17 September 2017
© Copyright Stephen Waller
Ipswich Town fans should, to use modern football parlance, be 'buzzing'.
Five wins from seven, fifth in the Championship table, two points behind leaders Leeds (ahead of this Saturday’s trip to Elland Road), oh, and also with a game in hand...
You’re right if you sense a ‘but’ is coming. Those who witnessed Saturday’s 2-0 home win over Bolton will have left satisfied rather than euphoric.
This was probably a game that the Blues would have drawn last season so, in that respect, it’s progress.
There were, however, painful reminders that so much remains the same for a club treading water.
Mick McCarthy reeled off the name of every Bolton player before the game team as if they were Barcelona rather than a newly-promoted side yet to register a win this season. He subsequently matched up their formation.
The drab display in a goalless first half was on a par with much of the dross dished up throughout 2016/17. Town rarely seem able to take games by the scruff of the neck when they are favourites. The fact they’ve now scored a first half goal in only 20 of their 54 home games since the start of 2015/16 highlights that.
Bristol City, Burton and Millwall beating Derby, Fulham and Leeds respectively at the weekend is a reminder, as if needed, of just how competitive this league is. You just wonder if Town’s balance is tipped too far towards worrying about the opposition than their own plan to stamp authority on a game.
Saturday’s attendance of 14,164 was the lowest for a league game at Portman Road in almost 20 years. And this, sadly, wasn’t a performance that will send the diehards away smugly telling the stay-aways what they are missing.
Those looking in from the outside will label unhappy Blues fans implacable and unrealistic. The truth is that the wish-list is actually pretty modest. Mid-table with some positivity and excitement along the way will do nicely.
And to clarify, we’re not demanding sexy football on a shoestring budget. We’re simply talking about a bit of zest, zeal and gumption.
Has this small Town group got spirit? Yes. Did they show in the early games they can play with edge? Absolutely. But they’ve slipped back into some bad old habits and there are there much tougher examinations ahead.