Ipswich Town have been tipped by many to have a season of struggle in The Championship this year. However, they got their 2017/18 campaign off to a winning start as they won 1-0 against Birmingham City at Portman Road on Saturday afternoon.
New signing Joe Garner got the only goal of a fairly tight encounter to give Mick McCarthy’s side all three points. It can be vitally important to get that first win on the board at the beginning of the season.
There is normally always one team that upsets the odds each year. The likes of Blackpool and Huddersfield Town have previously been tipped as relegation fodder and gone on to achieve promotion to The Premier League.
We take a look at why Ipswich might be the surprise package throughout this campaign.
Added considerable firepower to their ranks
A key issue for Ipswich under the management of McCarthy in recent years has been finding the back of the net on a regular basis. Last season, they relied heavily on goals from Leicester City loanee Tom Lawrence. He scored nine goals in 34 league appearances for Town and without his input, they could have faced a real battle to avoid a drop into League One.
Now that he has returned to his parent club, it was imperative that McCarthy looked to add some firepower to his squad this summer. He has so far signed three players, two of which are strikers. Both Garner and Martyn Waghorn have made the switch from Scottish Premier League side Rangers to Portman Road.
Both players have experience of playing at Championship level in the past but have never really been prolific goalscorers. They are both hard working strikers who will always give maximum effort, and this is ideal for the style of play that McCarthy has implemented at Ipswich.
Proven they can reach playoffs in the past
Despite the rather limited budget available to McCarthy, Ipswich have shown in the past that they have the ability to reach the playoffs.
They finished sixth in the 2014/15 campaign and were unlucky to miss out on the playoffs the following year as they finished in seventh place.
However, the main reason they reached the playoffs was due to the goal scoring form of Daryl Murphy. The 34-year-old striker, who has signed for Championship rivals Nottingham Forest this summer, scored 27 goals in 44 league appearances for Town in the 2014/15 campaign. McCarthy will be aware that he will need Garner and Waghorn to show this sort of form if his side is to have any chance of challenging once again this time round.
Stability at Portman Road
The word ‘stability’ cannot be used to describe the majority of clubs at this level nowadays. However, the exception to this is Ipswich Town. McCarthy has been the manager of the club for well over four years now making him the eight longest serving manager in English football at the moment.
Despite the fact he has come under significant pressure during this time, he has always come through it and proved he remains the right man for the job. There are not many other managers out there who could keep Ipswich competitive in the second tier every year with the budget they have available. If McCarthy could guide Town to a promotion challenge this season, it would be a remarkable achievement, whatever the outcome.