Elder Grizzly is one of the most active Ipswich fans on twitter and a member of the Independent Ipswich Town Forum. Turnstile Blues is a independent zine and blog devoted to covering the club. Both of them set down to answer our questions and see if Fulham can defeat Ipswich for the first time in 50 years.
Cottagers Confidential: Ipswich is 8 points out of the playoffs with a big GD difference. Have you given up any hope of promotion this year with only 4 games left to play? If you don't think you can make the playoffs could you gift us a win so that Fulham is mathematically safe?
Turnstile Blues: I think any last hope of the playoffs went with the 1-1 draw at Sheffield Wednesday. A win would have closed the gap between the two sides, but with our last two away games being Middlesbrough and Derby, even a win would have left a tough job. I never like wishing that we'd lose, but our last home game is against the Franchise, so hopefully we'll help Fulham by hammering the final nail in their coffin.
Elder Grizzly: The playoffs, while not mathematically gone, were realistically gone after the draw at home to Charlton and defeat to Brentford. Sheffield Wednesday was just a prolonging of the agony to be honest! It will need a remarkable turnaround both in our form (1 win in 8) and those above us to completely fall apart. And when 2 of those 4 are away to Boro and Derby, i'd say we're done...
And as to gifting you a win, we have struggled against teams towards the bottom of the league this season, especially at home. You may be in luck! :o)
CC: What was your realistic goal for the season, and how do you think the team performed this year?
TB: The playoffs were a realistic hope. We only lost Tyrone Mings from last season's first team, and added to the squad, but despite selling our last two left backs over the last two seasons for fees reported to be up to £11million, very little has been spent on the team.
EG: Now I'm sometimes accused of being too optimistic, or defending the club, but my prediction before the season started was 5th. A prediction based on the success of last season, plus players like Fraser, McGoldrick, Bishop and Murphy getting or staying fit. However, with injuries to all for significant elements of the season and in Bishop's case, all but 7 minutes of the season at the time of writing, our goal scoring and creativity in the side was ripped away.
Ask any Town fan and the style of football this season has fallen away too. We started the season really well, played good positive and passing football, sat top of the league and then got beat 5-1 by Reading and the new expansive style hasn't been seen since.
A Mick McCarthy team was never going to be Bournemouth or Barcelona, but last season we were high tempo and very effective. Almost a poor man's Leicester. However, this season we have lost that urgency, the football has been turgid for the main part and we've lost our way a little. In no small part due to the injuries of those above, but even with that 'excuse', Mick appears to lack a Plan B, especially without Murphy and plays too many out of position or they keep their place when woefully out of form.
Our Goalkeeper won the Supporters Player of the Year (and he's only played 17 league games), so that should tell you how well our season has gone!
An increasing number are starting to question the owner's ambition too after we sold Mings for £8m and don't appear on the surface to have reinvested that money. However, it was announced last week we have since increased our wage bill by 25% in the last two seasons (and 15% just this season to date), but appear to have a worse squad. Those questions instead of now all at the illusive Marcus Evans are being asked as to why McCarthy has wasted this significant increase in wages on journeymen and big contract increases for existing squad members (e.g. Murphy).
Simply, the season can't end soon enough and the only thing Ipswich fans can look forward to for the remaining 4 games, is some of the academy players getting game time (Dozzell, Kenlock, McDonnell, Emmanuel) and some better, passing football being played. I'm not holding my breath.
Plus we have our manager 'flirting' with another team (Villa) and not denying his is interested in the role!
CC: You defeated Fulham 2-1 in December. What has changed with the team since then, and what makes you think this match will be any different?
TB: Not a great deal has changed in terms of personnel - Liam Feeney, and (obviously) Ben Pringle have arrived to replace the injured Ryan Fraser and the out of favour Ainsley Maitland-Niles, but there's an overall lack of creativity in the team. The arrival of Pringle, and especially Feeney has helped, but the ball is spending a lot of time in midfield, or in the air. The fact that our player of the season Bartosz Bialkowski is a goalkeeper who didn't play between the end of August and the beginning of February might say something about our recent form too. All that said, Mick McCarthy has said that 16 year old Andre Dozzell will start, after scoring on his debut.
EG: Since December, not much. Well not for the better...
Sears' goalscoring form has gone out the window, from being so impressive in the game at Craven Cottage. He hasn't scored since December, although a huge part of this is due to him being played on the wing for most of the season by McCarthy.
Our left back (Knudsen), has improved significantly and is a real threat with a thunderbolt left foot. He's growing in confidence and could be a surprise source of a goal tomorrow.
You won't face Murphy either, who is out injured (again).
However, you will be facing a 16 year old named Andre Dozzell (son of former Town great Jason Dozzell) who will be making his home debut and first start. There are huge hopes for him at Ipswich and he marked his debut on Saturday with a goal. The fact he is starting will see Portman Road excited before a game for a change!
CC: Predicted lineup and score?
TB: Predicted score: 1-0 Ipswich
Predicted lineup is a bit tricker with Dozzell starting, we switched to 4-2-3-1 when he came on, so I'll stick with that, with the fit again Skuse replacing Bru.
Chambers Berra Smith Knudsen
Feeney Dozzell Sears
EG: Score prediction (well two of them)
If we score first and early (something like 3 goals in last 15 games in first half so unlikely), I can see us winning 3-1.
If you score first, there is a chance the crowd will get on McCarthy's back and it will affect the team. I can see a 2-1 to Fulham.
Line up (4-1-2-1-2) - right to left)
Chambers (capt), Smith, Berra, Knudsen
Skuse is apparently touch and go due to injury, so he would replace Foley if fit.