For our penultimate away game of the season, Villa travel to Portman Road as they cling on to hopes of that second automatic promotion spot.
For this weeks opposition’s view, I’ve enlisted the help of Ipswich fan and University of Brighton student Connor Bennett (@Connorbennett10).
Going back to December 16th when Ipswich beat Derby 2-0, you were two points off the play-offs. What’s gone wrong since then?
That seems like an eternity ago. A club in turmoil right now seems a shadow of it was back then. And that was down to one person: Mick McCarthy. A man who lost the fans’ hope, passion and desire last season. It appears to have rubbed off on the players too, with a lack of any will power from the Tractor boys, with our home form (which under Mick previously has always been solid) slipping to a very poor standard. Don’t get me wrong, what a job he has done for Town, but just like most managers nowadays, things go stale, and as much as we all love the living Meme, it was time to go.
How will Mick McCarthy will be remembered by Ipswich fans?
Most people loved Mick. His no nonsense, rigid style of play was exactly what we needed when he took over. He got us to the play offs and gave us top half finishes consistently. However, the relationship with fans soon deteriorated, exemplified by when he appeared to swear towards the away supporter chanting against him in the most recent 1-1 draw in the East Anglian Derby vs Norwich. However, as a man, as a myth and as a legend, I will always love Mick. Just not sure the die hard, lethal ultras of sleepy Suffolk can forgive some of his actions and comments towards the fans. Nevertheless, Mick McCarthy’s Barmy army is gladly a thing of the past now.
If you could, which past player would you bring into the starting XI?
Well, at town, we miss creativity or flair. Our only bright spark recently has been Bersant Celina: a young winger on loan from Manchester City with silky skills and great dancing feet. But often utilised wrongly (if at all) by McCarthy, his talents have been hushed. So, missing the spark that any fan needs to get them going, I’d like to see Tom Lawrence back at Town. No idea why Town didn’t go hell for leather to sign the Welsh Wizard with a left foot wand, but we sorely, sorely miss the excitement he brought to the uninspired Ipswich faithful. Not only that, but on his return during Derby’s win at Portman Road this season, he got a standing ovation when taking corners in front of the Town fans, and kindly showed his appreciation back by clapping back.
What does this Ipswich side need to challenge for promotion next season?
Well, we need a young, exciting manager. Someone that wants to play football. For as long as I can remember, it’s been long ball: the only difference is, the centre half hoofing and the centre forward 9/10 not winning the ball in the air has changed each year. The dull, boring football needs to go.
Who has been your standout performer this season and why?
Our stand-out performer this season has been of course the brilliant Martyn Waghorn. Scoring 14 goals, and assisting 8, there has been times where he has grabbed the game by the scruff of the neck (to use an age old cliché) and secured us points from nothing. Dangerous on set pieces and looking like he can score from anywhere, he alongside Bersant Celina and Joe Garner, are the only players that give the fans any hope of a goal, let alone a performance or result.
How do you see the Championship season panning out in terms of promotions and relegations?
Sunderland and Barnsley are Gary Gonners to me, can’t see any change for them. The surprise for me has been Birmingham, and I think they might go down. They made some fantastic signings, none of which have performed in the slightest. As far as promotion is concerned, I expect the squad strength of Cardiff City to see them gain the last automatic promotion spot, especially under Warnock’s observation (can you imagine the hairdryer treatment those players would get if they fluffed their lines now?). As for play offs, Fulham and Villa are certain, and I think one of those two will take the final promotion spot at the end of the season. Middlesbrough and Derby for me will make up the remaining spots, but they are the best of the rest, behind the Villans and Fulham.
Finally, score predictions for Saturday?
When you come to the fortress that is Portman Road, there are 3 things you can expect;
A Villa Victory
An awful game of ‘football’.
A dire atmosphere.