|Ipswich Town 1 v 3 Bristol City|
Saturday, 30th September 2017 Kick-off 15:00
Town Look to Continue Tuesday's Blistering Form Against Bristol City
Friday, 29th Sep 2017 17:14
Boss Mick McCarthy looks set to name the team which hammered Sunderland 5-2 on Tuesday as Town look to continue their blistering form against Bristol City at Portman Road on Saturday afternoon.
McCarthy’s Blues were rampant as they tore the struggling Wearsiders apart on an evening which will live long in fans' memories.
Despite sixth-placed Town playing their third game in eight days the Blues boss seems certain to stick with the same XI against the Robins, who are a point and a place behind his team.
“That’s the dilemma, isn’t it?” McCarthy said. “Change the team, put some fresh legs in, it doesn’t work and I’m a chump.
“Leave the team as it is, which is what everybody would expect me to do after Tuesday night, that doesn’t work and I’ll be asked the question, ‘Do you think you should have put some fresh legs in?’. So, you’ll see at 2pm on Saturday on the teamsheet.
“What’s nice is that the lads who are in the team are playing well and the others are busting a gut to get in, and as we’ve seen, the subs have come on and they’ve all contributed.”
McCarthy bristled when asked whether he has always wanted his team to play the type of high intensity, exhilarating football they played on Tuesday.
“It irks me slightly that I keep being asked this question as if we’ve been hopeless for five years,” he said. “I’ve been here for five years, if we’d been hopeless I wouldn’t have been here that long.
“We had a bad season last season, we lost our star striker at the start of it and it wasn’t good and we ended up having a scrap.
“But pretty much other than that we’ve been, certainly high intensity and certainly got after teams and certainly when we finished in the top six [in 2014/15] we were very good.
“Every club, every manager, every team wants to play football of a high intensity, good quality and everybody enjoyed it the other night and I hope we can do it again. And again and again and again and again. We’ll see won’t we?”
Only 14,907 fans watched Tuesday’s match but the performance and the result are likely to encourage back at least some of this season’s stay-away supporters, although McCarthy is quick to point out that the Sunderland display was no flash in the pan.
“It’s not just happened,” he insisted. “We’ve played well this season, we’re the league’s top scorers [on 19]. My disappointment is that we’ve conceded a few as well and we’ve not got the best goal difference.
“That needs to be sorted out, certainly conceding from corners, I didn’t like that on Tuesday night. But I loved the way the lads played and I thought it was an excellent performance and we could have had more.”
McCarthy admits that his team are unlikely to play like that all the time, certainly not away from home: “Probably not, not every week, I don’t think so.
“I don’t think Newcastle did, I don’t think Brighton did, I don’t think Huddersfield did. Huddersfield came here, and they were one of the best footballing teams last season, and they barely had a shot at our goal because of the way we played.
“And if I could find the answer to home and away football, why you play much better or not, I’m packing this job in and I’ll make zillions and I won’t be speaking to you again only to say how happy I am that I’m in the sun somewhere spending my dosh.
“I saw it against Fulham, against a good team when I had all the strikers on the pitch and it didn’t work. It wasn’t right and they picked a hole in us. But not every team is as good as Fulham and I think there was a bit more balance to us on Tuesday as well.”
But he is confident his front four - Joe Garner playing ahead of Bersant Celina, David McGoldrick and Martyn Waghorn - are capable of giving any Championship defence a tough afternoon.
“They were very good, they were excellent,” he said, looking back at the Sunderland game. “They are good players. It’s not always that all four good players play well together.
“But they did on Tuesday and have done before, they did when Freddie Sears was in instead of Bersant at Millwall, and a couple of other games.
“But Tuesday night was exceptional, they were very, very good. I can’t do any more, it’s how they play. They turn up, they’ve had the performance on Tuesday night, we’ve trained today, you hope and pray when you set the team up that if that front four are playing that they’re going to be exactly the same again.
“But don't forget, Bristol City will have done their analysis, they’ll have had a look at them and they’ll be thinking, ‘How can we stop them?’.”
McCarthy has been impressed with the way the Robins have started the campaign: “Excellent, a good result against Norwich [last Saturday's 0-0 draw at Carrow Road]. I think they’re unbeaten in eight in the league, they’re a good side. We’ve watched a few of their games.
“They’ve got a good balance to them, they’re 4-4-2 but their wingers will come and play on the inside and they’re lively up front and Bobby Reid’s knocking in the goals. I think the two strikers have got 10 between them, so they’re pretty prolific up front as well.”
Bristol City, who beat Bolton 2-0 on Tuesday, lost last season’s 26-goal top scorer Tammy Abraham when he returned to his parent club Chelsea before joining Swansea on loan ahead of the start of 2017/18, but McCarthy says it’s no surprise to him that they’ve not missed the England U21 international during the opening couple of months of this campaign.
“Not really, they went and spent how many million quid [£5.3 million] on the centre forward that they brought in, Famara Diedhiou? Bobby Reid’s a very good player that’s come through their academy.
“And Diedhiou is very, very good, he’s scoring goals. They’ve done a fair bit of recruitment and spent a few quid.”
The Blues boss was pleased to see City stick with young manager Lee Johnson, despite a tough spell last season and sees parallels with his own recent history at Town.
“They finished quite well, but they had a tough time earlier in the season,” he recalled. “Maybe people are thinking that about me, an old fart, not a young promising manager.
“You’d have all got shot of me last year, and that would have been a wrong decision looking at that now, so maybe Lee and I are in the same boat.”
McCarthy believes clubs across the Championship will have taken notice of Tuesday’s result and performance, although earlier displays won’t have been overlooked.
“I would think so, of course,” he said. “We go to Leeds and we know they’ve been playing well, they were top of the league and if anybody’s going to play Cardiff at the minute they’ll all be going, ‘Oo, it’s Cardiff’.
“And we’ve got Bristol City, who are unbeaten, they’re the same. They’re only a point behind us in the league, they’re having a good season.
“I don’t think the fact that it was 5-2 suddenly starts ringing all these alarm bells, I think we’ve played well all season and anybody knows coming here that it’s going to be a tough game anyway.”
McCarthy says Saturday’s match will be a different one from Tuesday’s: “It’s a test for us to play the same and play as well again against a team that’s having a better season than the last team that we played.
“It’s a test for us to replicate that. Nothing to do with them, it’s how we play, can we have the same energy and intensity and same quality.”
He added: “It always matters about the opposition. While we would still respect the opposition, we’ve done the analysis on them, we’ll still want to stop them playing, but it’s about whether we can do it again.
“And that’s what we want to try and do, play as well again. Without worrying about the opposition, concentrate on us playing as well as we’ve done.”
At the start of the season the likes of Fulham, Aston Villa and Middlesbrough were the bookies’ favourites but none of them are currently in the top six.
However, McCarthy believes that’s likely to change the longer the season progresses: “Are you going to start backing against them? Villa have just won three on the bounce.
“Everybody knows they’re playing against really good teams, I think. I’ve said in the past that it inspires us. We had a month last year when we had a tough time here and then we were playing Villa away, Brighton, Leeds and I said, ‘Don’t worry about that month, that’ll be fine’. And it was, it was probably the best month we had.
“Sometimes it’s hard for the better teams when everybody is wound up to play against them and they’re saying, ‘Right, we’ve got Middlesbrough, Derby or Norwich’ or whoever it might be that’s got parachute payments. They’re all ready for them and it can be tough.
“But as the season goes on over 46 games, they start to find their form, they start to find their shape, their balance and they become better. So I won’t be thinking that all of a sudden those teams won’t be in the mix, because I think they will.”
The second international break of the season follows Saturday’s game and McCarthy wants to go into the two-week hiatus having recorded what would be the Blues' seventh win in 10 Championship matches.
“Obviously it would be nice to put this result to bed, but it’s going to be a tough one for us,” he continued. “It’s always nice to go into an international break of a couple of weeks with a win, you don’t want to be festering on it.
“But Bristol City will be thinking the same, of course. There are a few internationals who are going away but we’ll have a break.”
McCarthy is again set to start with Bartosz Bialkowski in goal, Dominic Iorfa at right-back, Jonas Knudsen at left-back and skipper Luke Chambers and Jordan Spence at the heart of the defence.
In midfield, Cole Skuse and Tom Adeyemi will play the anchor roles with Celina, McGoldrick and Waghorn ahead of them and Garner the lone out-and-out striker.
Adam Webster, who has been out since the Carabao Cup match at Luton with an ankle injury, and Dean Gerken, who missed out on Tuesday with a hip problem, will be back among the subs.
Bristol City have gone 12 games at Portman Road since their last win which came back in September 1978.
Manager Johnson recalls their heaviest defeat in that time, a 6-0 hammering in 2007/08, during his time as a player with the Robins.
“It was my job to provide the music in the dressing room and the pre-match inspiration,” he told Bristol City’s official website.
“I decided to go a bit leftfield at Ipswich and play Nessun Dorma. We got thumped 6-0, Bradley Orr got a red card and we were playing in slow motion. I was quite swiftly moved from music duties!”
City travelled to East Anglia earlier than is usually the case, Johnson revealed: “We decided we would travel on the Thursday evening. We’ve got full use of Colchester United’s training ground on Friday, while they use Failand [the Robins’ training ground] ahead of their match with Yeovil.”
Reflecting on Town, he added: “Ipswich are a good side in good form, just like ourselves. Mick is a wily old cat who has recruited well over the summer to add to the quality already in his squad.”
Bristol City, who are unbeaten in 10 in all competitions - eight in the league - and have lost only once in the Championship this season, will be without midfielder Marlon Pack, who is suspended having already amassed five bookings, as well as the injured Milan Djuric (groin), Eros Pisano and Gary O’Neil (both knee).
Historically, Town have the edge, winning 29 (27 in the league), losing 20 (20) and drawing 13 (13).
At Portman Road in December last year, a brilliant Brett Pitman overhead kick four minutes from time against his old club saw Town to a 2-1 victory over the Robins.
Kevin Bru gave the Blues a 1-0 half-time lead, but the visitors hit back through on-loan striker Abraham seven minutes after the restart before Pitman’s superb strike sealed what was a much-needed home win for Town.
At Ashton Gate earlier in the same month a Lee Tomlin penalty and a goal of the season contender from Luke Freeman saw Bristol City to a 2-0 victory.
Tomlin converted from the spot after Bialkowski had been adjudged to have fouled Abraham in the 31st minute, then Freeman smashed home a volley on 72 to seal the three points with McGoldrick having come closest for Town when he hit the post earlier in the second half.
Skuse moved to the Blues from his hometown club, who he had joined as a schoolboy, following their relegation in the summer of 2013 after making 245 starts and 62 sub appearances, and scoring nine times.
Keeper Dean Gerken also left Ashton Gate the same summer, joining the Blues after a trial during pre-season ahead of 2013/14, having made 60 appearances for the Robins after signing from Colchester in July 2009.
Blues defender Jordan Spence spent two spells on loan with the Robins, a two-month stint at the end of the 2010/11 season and then the whole of the following campaign at Ashton Gate. In total he made 21 starts and one sub appearance without scoring. Town assistant manager Terry Connor played for the Robins between 1991 and 1993.
City boss Johnson, a close friend of Skuse from their playing days together at Ashton Gate, was born in Suffolk during his father Gary’s time as a player with Newmarket Town.
Saturday’s referee is Simon Hooper from Wiltshire, who has shown 26 yellow cards and one red in 10 games so far this season.
Hooper’s most recent Town game was the 1-1 draw at home to Preston in January 2016 when he showed yellow cards to Brett Pitman and three Lilywhites.
In the preceding September he took charge of the 3-0 Capital One Cup defeat at Manchester United i in which he booked only Jonny Parr.
Prior to that he refereed the Blues’ 2-0 home victory over Burnley at Portman Road in August in which he yellow-carded visitors’ winger Michael Kightly and no one else.
Hooper also officiated in the 1-0 defeat at Reading in August last season in which he booked Tyrone Mings, Tommy Smith and Christophe Berra and two home players.
He also took control of the 1-0 win at Yeovil the previous season and the 3-0 home win against Crystal Palace in April 2013.
Squad from: Bialkowski, Gerken, Iorfa, Knudsen, Kenlock, Connolly, Spence, Chambers, Webster, Skuse, Adeyemi, Bru, Nydam, Ward, Celina, Garner, Sears, McGoldrick, Waghorn.
Please report offensive, libellous or inappropriate posts by using the links provided.
You need to login in order to post your comments
Blogs 243 bloggers
Identity Crisis by andygri
As someone born in the mid 1970s, I am part of the generation that has seen Ipswich Town Football Club move in and out of the footballing limelight over the last 40 years.
Pre-Derby Hope and Hype by TimS
I hate the phrase 'Old Farm derby'. There are plenty of patronising phrases that have, and are still thrown at me when I talk about our club, but the 'Old Farm derby' degenerates our derby into nothing more than a Country Show debate over who has the biggest tractor. Quaint, sweet but slightly pathetic, not understood by anyone outside East Anglia.
Is the Season Done And Dusted For Ipswich Town? by Pessimistic
That game away at Bolton summed up in my view all that is wrong with Ipswich Town Football Club.
Stuck in a Moment, and Now We Can't Get Out of It! by oldbarrackdan
Yesterday's result at the Macron against Bolton and the subsequent press conference with Mick McCarthy reminds me of the U2 song- Stuck in a Moment. Marcus Evans:
Consumer Rights by Slambo
As the latest episode of teeth gnashing and breast rending progresses we Ipswich Town supporters need to ask ourselves what kind of fan we want to be.
Ipswich Town Polls
[ Vote here ]