The Football League Paper - - NEWS -

IP­SWICH boss Mick McCarthy has tar­geted a top six fin­ish this sea­son but I’ve got a sneak­ing sus­pi­cion he could do even bet­ter.

When McCarthy ar­rived at Port­man Road in early Novem­ber, the place was a sham­bles. Rub­bish team, ap­a­thetic crowds, one win from their first 13 league games.

Bot­tom of the league and ham­mered more of­ten than an anvil, the Trac­tor Boys were the soft­est touch since Aud­ley Har­ri­son went pro. Yet by the end of the sea­son, they were mid-ta­ble with the best de­fen­sive record in the bot­tom half.

More sig­nif­i­cantly, 53 of their 60 points were gained by McCarthy, an im­pres­sive tally of 1.6 points per game. Ap­ply that ra­tio to the first 13 games of the sea­son and you get an ex­tra 20 points – enough for fifth place and a play-off berth.

When you add in the fact that McCarthy had nowt to spend and a bunch of play­ers who a) weren’t his own and b) had played aw­fully be­fore he ar­rived, it speaks vol­umes for both his man­man­age­ment and his abil­ity to rec­tify prob­lems.

This sum­mer he has bought shrewdly, shift­ing high earn­ers like Lee Martin, Jay Em­manuelThomas and Michael Cho­pra off the wage bill.

In their place have come the likes of David McGoldrick and Paul An­der­son, men whose for­tunes have dipped and must be burn­ing to prove a point, plus pro­mo­tion vet­er­ans like Jay Tabb and Christophe Berra.

And the net out­lay? £57,000. It’s all a far cry from the days when Roy Keane could waste £1.7m on a non-scor­ing striker like Ta­mas Priskin.

McCarthy’s Ip­swich is an earth­ier beast, leaner, more dis­ci­plined. “I don’t think any­body will be rub­bing their hands think­ing ‘Happy days, Ip­swich are com­ing here and they’re go­ing to be a soft touch’,” he said.

Last year, he de­scribed his side as a sick pa­tient. This year, he wants war­riors. And while the top two will be a tough ask for the Cham­pi­onship’s longest­serv­ing club, I don’t think it is out of the ques­tion.

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