Optimism springs eternal at the start of any new season. The table is blank, and opportunities are endless.
The favourites have no more points than the relegation candidates, and the ‘whipping boys’ of the league still have a positive goal-difference. Getting off to a good start is essential, and the first game of the season is the place to do it.
That first game of the season is the perfect opportunity to show off the new signings of the summer, and the kits all look so fresh and new. It’s always nice to see the new kits, and the black away shirt that Ipswich have this season all ready looks to be a hit.
It took Ipswich Town nearly three months and 15 games to get their first win last season – beating Derby County 1-0 in a tense encounter – so Blues fans will have been hoping for better this time around.
Middlesbrough would provide a tough test having been installed as early season favourites for the title.
Indeed, the contrast was clear for all to see. Ipswich had struggled to add to a squad that offered up such a disappointing season last time around, finishing in the lower echelons of the Championship table.
Avoiding relegation from the second tier of English football should never be considered an ‘achievement’ for a club of Ipswich’s stature.
A real sense of pessimism lingered as the new season approached, which was not totally unexpected.
Roy Keane had allowed first team players such as Richard and David Wright to leave as their contracts expired. Jack Colback returned to Sunderland as his loan spell expired, and Liam Rosenior was not offered a new deal at the club, despite showing some promise in a blue shirt.
And that was not the end of it. Connor Wickham, valued at £10m, was injured as the season loomed, and was ruled out for six weeks.
Damien Delaney suffered a potentially life threatening blow to his leg that would rule him out for some time, whilst Luciano Civelli was barely back from a long injury lay-off before he was shipped back to the medical room. The squad was looking painfully threadbare.
So surely it would be a comfortable home win at the Riverside, with the likes of Kris Boyd, Scott McDonald and Nicky Bailey tearing Town to shreds, then? Absolutely not; Ipswich offered up a treat for their travelling army of fans, with a sublime second half display.
It was truly delightful to see Tamas Priskin end his personal goal drought – he has already equalled his tally of the last campaign!
That goal capped a flowing move from Town, as the ball was moved around quickly and out to the right with Carlos Edwards. His cross was immaculate, threading the ball between two defenders and onto the head of the diving Priskin.
Another player who stood out on Saturday was young Luke Hyam.
Ipswich has a history of producing fine young players – and this is the latest off the production line. He seems to be the piece of the jigsaw that has been missing at Portman Road.
Attack minded midfielders Grant Leadbitter and David Norris were not able to fulfil their potential last season, as they were somewhat held back by the defensive side of the game.
So promoting Hyam, a player who will sit in front of the back four and rarely get forward, seems to be a wise move. He is one to watch – that is for sure.
So maybe it could be a good season after all!
*Disclaimer: The views in this article are that of the writer and may not replicate those of the Professional Footballers' Association.
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