Ipswich’s 2016/17 season
League Position: 16th (2015/16: 7th)
Average league attendance: 16,980 (2015/16: 18,989)
Top league goalscorer: Tom Lawrence (9)
Ipswich are the longest-serving team in the Sky Bet Championship and that never really looked like changing last season. The Suffolk side have now completed 15 seasons in the second tier after relegation from the Premier League, where they had spent two years, in 2002. The Tractor Boys have generally been a top ten side during their second tier stay, reaching the Play-Offs three times – the last when Brentford did in 2015. They have never, however, reached the Play-Off Final and last season was their lowest finish since the 1950s.
2015/16 had ended well for Ipswich but with Ryan Fraser returning to AFC Bournemouth after a loan spell and Daryl Murphy sold to Newcastle United they started the season without two key attacking threats. Ipswich did bring in Tom Lawrence on loan from Leicester City but started the season with two wins in six and that set the tone for an inconsistent term. The Tractor Boys won two games in a row only once, over the Easter weekend, but only lost consecutive games in the final weeks of the season, when they suffered three straight defeats to end the campaign.
Ipswich’s 16 draws was the most in the division and only four teams scored fewer goals. Lawrence contributed nine of those and was the shining light for much of the season. Fellow attacker Grant Ward opened the campaign with a hat-trick against Barnsley but only scored three more while an injury to striker Brett Pitman that saw him miss three months also hindered their campaign. The cups did not provide respite as Ipswich were beaten by non-league Lincoln City in an FA Cup Third Round Replay and by Stevenage in the EFL Cup First Round.
The division’s longest-serving team have, in Mick McCarthy, the division’s longest-serving manager and one of the most experienced. McCarthy has been at the helm at Ipswich since late 2012 and has been working as a manager for more than 25 years. After a successful playing career that saw him win 57 Republic of Ireland caps and play for Manchester City and Celtic among others, he took over as Millwall Player-Manager in early 1992. The 58-year-old has barely been out of work since.
He took over as Ireland boss in 1996 and led them to the 2002 World Cup before spending three years at Sunderland and almost six at Wolverhampton Wanderers. He took both in to the Premier League, albeit he was sacked by both when facing relegation back to the second tier. He took over with Ipswich in relegation trouble but led them to safety and then followed that up by finishing in ninth, sixth – when they lost to Norwich City in the Play-Offs – and seventh before dropping down the table last year.
Last Time Round
Head to Head
Brentford wins: 3
Ipswich wins: 6