The Tractor Boys have started the season with three wins from three; it couldn’t have gone better could it?
They certainly needed a good start because there was a fair bit of doom and gloom surrounding the club last season –16th place represented the worst finish in 58 years. More than that it was the style of football and the forgettable nature of many of the displays that left supporters feeling disillusioned. They certainly needed a good start just to get everybody back onside. Mick McCarthy has talked about winning back hearts and minds and three wins in three has gone a long way to getting everybody back on side.
In your column for the Ipswich Star, you mentioned that one more win would match the start of the 1999/2000 season, in which Town were promoted to the Premier League – I know it’s very early on but could history be repeating itself?
I’m all for some cautious optimism but going into the season the bookies had Ipswich among the favourites for the drop, that’s how bad things were towards the end of last season. You look at the way everyone else has strengthened and continues to throw around money in this division – not only the teams who’ve missed out on the Play-Offs and the teams who’ve come down from the Premier League – but you’ve also got Wolves and Birmingham looking to spend money among others. I think, realistically, mid-table is probably what Ipswich are looking at.
The club has made some eye-catching signings this summer, including those of former Rangers pair Joe Garner and Martyn Waghorn. Of all the club’s additions, who do you think offers the most potential?
Well I certainly think Joe Garner is going to be a real fan’s favourite. The fans have certainly missed a Darryl Murphy replacement after he signed for Newcastle and he was integral in terms of the way Ipswich played. The fact that he wasn’t replaced was a big factor in why the club declined last season. Joe Garner might only be 5’10” but he’s very physical, he’s good in the air, and certainly has a bit of aggression and devilment about him; he’s someone that is going to give his all every time he pulls on the shirt. There’s a bit of a question about his previous goal tally at Championship level, but he was prolific for Preston in League One and I think he’s going to be a hit with the fans. It’s similar for Martyn Waghorn really – he’s someone with a bit of a point to prove, having been up in Scotland with Rangers for a few years after starting in the Premier League with Sunderland. From what we’ve seen of him so far, he’s looked good and he scored the winner against Barnsley last weekend so the two of them will add to the attacking options.
Who is the Ipswich player Brentford should be most wary of this weekend?
It will be interesting to see how Mick is managing his squad rotation with the Saturday-Tuesday fixtures coming thick and fast, but at the moment probably David McGoldrick who, on his day, remains amongst the best in the division. Three years ago he was a talismanic figure with £8m bids from Leicester being rejected, but he’s had a couple of injury-hit years and has been off the field more often than he’s been on it.
What is your impression of Brentford as a club?
The two clubs have played out a few great battles since Brentford’s promotion a couple of years back; the 2-2 on the opening day in 2015 where Ipswich conceded twice in stoppage time I seem to remember. Regardless of who the manager or players have been, the Club has a style of play and a DNA about it. They try and play ‘the right way’ and as a neutral I’ve always enjoyed watching Brentford play and I don’t read too much into their early results.
If there was one Brentford player you could bring to Ipswich, who would it be?
When he’s fully fit, I’d have to say Alan Judge. Before the injury he was one of the form players in the division but of the current bunch, Jota. Last season he was a joy to watch; he’d be the one that I’d like.
Can I push you for a prediction?
It’s difficult to say but I’ll put myself down for 1-1.