Many thanks to Ipswich Town fan Ben from Blue Monday Podcast for taking the time to talk about all things ahead of Saturday’s game. We talked to him about the Tractor Boys’ promotion hopes, Mick McCarthy, and which players have been impressing this season at Portman Road.
You can follow them on Twitter @BlueMondayITFC.
As things stand, Ipswich sit ninth, five points off the top six. Is promotion a realistic aim this season?
Not really - given our squad we are in a good position but there are still teams below us who we consider better and would expect to push for top eight in the new year. We finished seventh two seasons ago and 16th last season so as long as we’re closer to seventh than 16th most people will be happy.
What do you make of Mick McCarthy? Is he still the right man for the job?
His contract is up at the end of the season and the fans are completely split in half - some want him gone, they think he’s old fashioned and overly cautious tactically and don’t like his sparring with the supporters during interviews.
Others understand he’s massively knowledgeable, in-game he’s very good with tactics, and his transfer policy has generally been excellent. It will be fascinating to see whether he wants to resign or not, it’ll only be if and when he goes and we go up or down the table we’ll see what type of job he did!
What's going right for Ipswich right now?
In the defence, Bartosz Bialkowski the keeper is excellent, Luke Chambers is a strong captain, Adam Webster is a good young first teamer, whereas Jonas Knudsen and Jordan Spence are reliable players. Cole Skuse is secure and savvy in midfield, with the fundamentally sound Callum Connolly or athletic Tom Adeyemi partnering him.
In attacking midfield, Bersant Celina and David McGoldrick can be match winners with Grant Ward and Emyr Huws dependable and upfront Joe Garner is excellent in the air with Martyn Waghorn a strong finisher. There are youngsters in the background ready to take their chances (Dozzell, Nydam, Downes, Kenlock) and with equal playing personnel McCarthy is rarely outwitted by opposition managers.
And what could be going better?
As mentioned in the McCarthy answer the support is split which causes its own problems. Tactically we could play about three or four different systems, all of which suit different players in different ways. McCarthy has ended up in a 4-2-3-1 because that’s what most of the league is doing and it’s easy to get outnumbered high up the pitch if you don’t play it!
It would be nice to nail down a system and regularly see the same eight or nine in the first team, but with 46 games everyone in the league gets injuries so it’s very hard.
Who's the danger man in your side that we need to keep an eye on?
Bialkowski in the goal can be hard to get past if his defence protects him. Webster is an above average passer for a Championship defender with Knudsen a threat on the overlap. Celina has great pace and dribbling when one-on-one but hasn’t quite figured the Championship yet and McGoldrick will probably only make the bench.
Garner is horrible to play against and Waghorn is very direct with a powerful left footed shot.
How do you see the match going? And what will the score be?
I’m fascinated to see how Mick deals with the short goal kicks, whether he pushes the team up and risks getting played through, and I think Sone Aluko, Modou Barrow and Liam Kelly should be able to get past our defence for at least one goal.
The two games were tight last year with a late penalty in Reading and a lateish equaliser in Ipswich winning Reading a strong four points. Hopefully we can win by one but it should be entertaining!!
Ipswich Town 2-1 Reading