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Mike Bacon: OK, reasons to be cheerful... Why Ipswich Town have nothing to fear

PUBLISHED: 17:00 31 July 2019 | UPDATED: 09:50 02 August 2019

James Norwood and Luke Chambers during the Ipswich Town open day at Portman Road Picture: ROSS HALLS

James Norwood and Luke Chambers during the Ipswich Town open day at Portman Road Picture: ROSS HALLS

Archant

In his weekly column MIKE BACON tells us why Ipswich Town can enjoy a huge season...

Paul Lambert giving out instructions to Jon Guthrie at the Ipswich Town open day Picture: ROSS HALLSPaul Lambert giving out instructions to Jon Guthrie at the Ipswich Town open day Picture: ROSS HALLS

I've been told last week's column was a tad on the negative side.

Oh!

It was just a throw-away comment from a colleague over at the coffee machine on Wednesday as I was getting the Archant sports boys their favourite morning tipple - BTW, did you know me and Carl Marston are the only ones who still take sugar?

So, I've decided - with good reason (and because Judgey is staying) - as we are on the eve of the new football season at Portman Road that, while League One is not what we anticipated 38 years after lifting the UEFA Cup - a week is a long time in.... Well, writing football columns!

I will be more positive. But happily so - and with good reason.

Indeed, I intend to put the case as to why Ipswich Town's season ought to be... 'A beaut mate'... (a little Ashes theme there!)

So here goes.

Alan Judge and Andre Dozzell in action during the Ipswich Town open day Picture: ROSS HALLSAlan Judge and Andre Dozzell in action during the Ipswich Town open day Picture: ROSS HALLS

THE SQUAD

I'll wager a dollar to a euro or even a yen, that this Ipswich Town squad has a bigger playing budget than most clubs in League One.

Yes, there maybe a few exceptions, Sunderland spring to mind.

But overall I reckon Town's wage bill far outstrips many of their League One opponents.

I'm not talking mega-bucks here.

But as much as we have been spoon-fed year after year in the Championship that, 'we don't have the budget to compete with the big boys'.... 'we're punching above our weight'.

Paul Lambert (inset) has challenged Ipswich Town's young players such as Myles Kenlock and Teddy Bishop to deliver on the pitch. Picture: ARCHANTPaul Lambert (inset) has challenged Ipswich Town's young players such as Myles Kenlock and Teddy Bishop to deliver on the pitch. Picture: ARCHANT

.... Well, in League One, I'm sorry (well no I'm not actually), Town can't say that.

MORE FROM BACON: 'I must not get down on League One'

If the Blues 'punch above their weight' in this League, we'll win it. Simple as that.

Ok, I know money doesn't guarantee success.

But look at the PR roster.

Players like Sears, Huws, Chambers, Judge, Norwood would be snapped up by any other League One club in a heartbeat, as would younger players like Dozzell, Downes, Kenlock, Bishop and Woolfenden.

Despite all the departures, Town are still a very decent unit at this level.

Town fans in large numbers at Cambridge Picture PagepixTown fans in large numbers at Cambridge Picture Pagepix

THE STADIUM

Are you aware that, in League One, only Milton Keynes Dons and Sunderland have bigger stadium capacities than Portman Road?

And MK Dons by only a few hundred.

If I'm wrong, blame Google.

Portman Road is a colossus of a stadium in this league.

A birds eye view of the Stadium of Light, Sunderland; Photo: Owen Humphreys/PA WireA birds eye view of the Stadium of Light, Sunderland; Photo: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire

For most of Town's opponents this season a trip to Portman Road is the equivalent of Leiston going to play Newcastle United at St James' Park in the FA Cup... Well, slight exaggeration there, but you get my drift.

You may also want to watch:

Oh, I hear you.... 'Problem is teams will raise their game at our nice stadium'.

Poppycock!

And even if so, do something about it then.

MORE FROM BACON: 'I've been everywhere man!'

Let's start by putting the fear of God into teams coming to PR.

We're going up... May 2000 after Town beat Barnsley 4-2 at Wembley in the Division One play-off final. Left to right: Richard Naylor, Tony Mowbray, Martijn Reuser and Marcus Stewart. Could Town be back at Wembley next year? Photo: JAMIE NIBLOCKWe're going up... May 2000 after Town beat Barnsley 4-2 at Wembley in the Division One play-off final. Left to right: Richard Naylor, Tony Mowbray, Martijn Reuser and Marcus Stewart. Could Town be back at Wembley next year? Photo: JAMIE NIBLOCK

Maybe not quite on the scale of Liverpool fans' efforts against Man City in the Champions League a couple of seasons back that saw about 4,000 of them line the route, bang the City coach on arrival, smash windows, put the fear of god into the coach driver and let off flares.

But we should at least be booing their names on the team sheet when it's read out.

Shouting 'who are ya?' for any opposition substitutions, while - and if Town are winning - ball boys and girls should be in no hurry to ever return the ball to an opposition player.

This is basic stuff! And don't tell me other teams don't do it.

Quite frankly, being 'nice' has got us nowhere.

THE FANS

Ipswich Town fans are some of the very best.

Blues support will take over most grounds in League One, in number and vocal impact, singing songs and making a din!

Take inflatables to every game. Make silver replicas of the UEFA Cup, FA Cup and First Division trophy (if anyone can find what that looked like in 1962).

Win the battle (not literally) off the pitch. Then leave Norwood and the boys to do the rest.

AND FINALLY...

Belief all round is the key.

Belief that if it doesn't all get off to a good start at Burton this weekend, we are not all Private Frazered... 'doomed'.

No more than if we win 9-0, we are not going to win League One by a country mile.

So much is down to the players and the gaffer now.

This still has the potential to be one of the most exciting seasons in the club's history. That may sound crazy as the club is in it's lowest tier of English football for decades.

But more times than not we are going to be favourites to win a game, aren't we? (Apart from any cup competition, but we appear to have given up on most of them)

Twenty years ago next May I sat in the Wembley press box watching Town beat Barnsley 4-2 in the Division One play-off final.

Town fans rightly still talk about it today.

It wasn't the Champions League, FA Cup or UEFA Cup finals. It was a play-off final.

Paul Lambert's charges of 2019/20 have a chance to make history. To gain automatic promotion or, at least, reach the play-offs and who knows? Maybe a final.

It won't easy, no walk in the park. But it's far from impossible.

Reasons to be cheerful? Why not?

COME ON YOU BLUES!

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