Cottagers Confidential: Ipswich have seemed to be content to finish mid table year after year (at least the ownership and management), but this year have a real chance to be promoted. What's different about this season?
Turnstile Blues: I'm not sure the owners/management have been "content" with mid-table finishes in recent years, although in retrospect the appointments of two previous managers, Keane and Jewell, were ill-judged. I think the idea was they'd get us promoted quickly but it backfired spectacularly. What's different about this season is undoubtedly Mick McCarthy and Terry Connor. They made a huge difference last season but David McGoldrick's injury hampered any real progress. The squad we have now is McCarthy's own. I think he's been wise in shipping a few people who perhaps didn't quite have the right attitude out. The current squad appears to be a cohesive unit who have some feeling for the club. I haven't liked our players as much since the days of George Burley.
Elder Grizzly: I wouldn't say we were content to be mid-table, but we were undermined by two terrible managers in Keane and Jewell. They both spent heavily and there was more chance of us ending in League 1 than the Premier League.
Last season was about Mick McCarthy building a foundation and we flirted with the playoffs as the season went on.
This season we took that team and have added solid players in Bialokowski, Parr and Freddie Sears, plus seen the emergence of Mings, Bishop and Bru and the astonishing goals return of Murphy, who at the time of writing is the top scorer in the league.
No magic formula, just a solid spine to the team and a manager who knows how to get out of the division.
Oh and the patience of an owner who doesn't interfere!
CC: Daryl Murphy seems to be on fire this year. I have to admit, I'd never heard of him before this season. And once I looked at his career he seems to have bounced around a lot and never had this kind of success. It's unusual for strikers to have breakout seasons at 31. Is there some sort of secret to his success? Has his game actually improved or is this just a situation where he's combined a little luck with a skillset meshes well with the current squad?
Turnstile Blues: A lot of Town fans have been very critical of Murphy until this season but I've always liked him. He has always done a lot more than score goals, holding the ball up and so on, but of course he didn't score often enough. The difference this season is, I think, partly a happier team who seem to relate better to one another, more stability with fewer changes of personnel, but also that Terry Connor is one of the best coaches of strikers there is. Something seems to be working anyway and, to answer your last question, I think it's a bit of both, but mostly the latter.
Elder Grizzly: For a lot of his career, Murphy has been shunted away from the centre forward position, often playing in a left sided role.
This season he has benefited from a second season in an established partnership with McGoldrick (who we turned down bids of £7m+ from Leicester in the summer) and the coaching of Terry Connor should not be underestimated, who puts in hour after hour with the strikers.
Murphy ended last season really well when McGoldrick was out injured and has picked up from where he left off. Safe to say he has surprised a lot of us this season though & if anyone was going to get 19 goals by this time it would have seen a large percentage saying McGoldrick at the start of the season.
We are admittedly playing to Murphy's strengths too, which can sometimes see us labelled as direct, but he is technically a very good player too. Not bad for a free transfer....
CC: How confident are you that Ipswich can make the playoffs this year? How about finishing top 2? How dissapointed will the supporters be if they fall back and finish 7th or 8th?
Turnstile Blues: I think we may well make the play offs. We aren't the best team in the Championship - yet! - but we're a good side and if we can get back on track after our recent blip in form, we'll do OK, but I can't see automatic promotion now. I think most fans will be very disappointed. Expectations rose in the run-up to Christmas that "this is our year." Personally, I'm happy to wait a while and build a side that's strong enough to have a chance of staying in the PL once we've got there, but I also worry that our owner doesn't have the patience for that and the last thing we want is more managerial upheaval.
Elder Grizzly: I think we'll make the playoffs, but in what position is up for debate. We've hopefully just got over our dodgy patch, with the victory over Sheffield Wednesday this week.
The biggest gripe from some fans if we don't make the playoffs will be aimed squarely at the owner for not spending significantly in the January transfer window. However, whether rightly or wrongly, we have taken the decision to stick to the new Financial Fair Play (FFP) rules, which means our hands are tied and can't or won't spend millions on a player.
I expect us to bring back in two Premier League loans once the 93 day maximum allows them to play in the playoff final. Jonny Williams is a crowd favourite and we need back up to Murphy as we have no other forwards capable of playing the way he does.
Still plenty of games to go and as we are starting to see with Derby, injuries can take your key players away for a while. That i believe leaves the Top 2 open for about 4 or 5 clubs.
And a prediction for Saturday? Over 4,000 will be there and i can see us sneaking a late 2-1 win. Mick will take a draw though...