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Ipswich Town v Boro
 

Ipswich Town v Boro

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Clive Hurren
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Ipswich Town v Boro

Saturday 13 April. KO 15.00

Kieran who? It’s a question you might have been tempted to ask in recent months. Who is this young whizz-kid who has transformed Ipswich into one of the best sides in the Championship? You will have often seen him on the telly, a fresh-faced, young, slim figure, standing alongside Michael Carrick as part of Man United’s coaching staff, working under Mourinho, then Solskjaer and Rangnick. Surely, therefore, he must have had a stellar playing career with big clubs, just like Carrick did? Not a bit of it - although he represented Northern Ireland at U-19 and U-21 levels, he never actually made a first team appearance for Tottenham, his first professional club in England, as he was forced to retire in 2009 at age 22 owing to an ongoing serious hip injury.

He worked with youth teams at Spurs, Forest, Leicester and Vancouver Whitecaps, before becoming Spurs’ U-18 team manager. He was then recruited as the U-18 manager at Old Trafford and subsequently promoted to the first team coaching set-up alongside Carrick. McKenna was appointed manager of Ipswich in December 2021, with the club languishing in mid-table after 2 or 3 years stuck in League One. What a risk the owners took appointing an unknown young rookie coach with no manager experience to such a high-profile, vital role! It could really have gone pear-shaped.

It certainly didn’t! The club’s fortunes began to improve and they started to climb the table, but ultimately couldn’t make up lost ground and finished eleventh. The board must have seen something special, though: they showed faith in McKenna and stuck with him. How that decision has paid off for them! In his second season, McKenna took Ipswich to second place in League One, promotion completed with a fabulous run of 19 games unbeaten.

So far, so good. Now, my guess is that most at Ipswich, from boardroom to tealady to ball boys to supporters, thought they’d need to consolidate that success with a solid season or two in the Championship, while the team acclimatised to the higher level. After all, that’s what you would expect. We’ve only to look at how last season’s other escapees from League One, Plymouth and Sheffield Wednesday, have struggled to bridge the gap to realise just how hard it can be. Tell that to Kieran McKenna! His side have stormed through the Championship, continuing where they left off last season. They’ve more than held their own in the face of the obvious advantages enjoyed by Leeds, Leicester and Southampton, and currently sit second. All season long, you might have been expecting them to fold, to suffer a bad run, to drift back into the upper mid-table positions. Apart from a short blip recently, though, they’ve maintained their amazing form and remain amongst the favourites to go up.

McKenna has done a superb job. His win record at Ipswich is absolutely excellent: as at 6th April, he had managed Ipswich in 126 games, winning 73 and drawing 33. That’s a tremendous win % of 57.94 %, and a loss % of very few! He’s been nominated for Championship manager of the season, and given that Ipswich don’t have anything like the funds the other 3 main contenders have, he must stand a good chance of winning it. Towards the end of last season, Carrick was being tipped as a probable Premiership manager of the future, but maybe less so now after a difficult second season. McKenna, his little mate from Old Trafford, has taken over that mantle. Now he’s the hot property. Recently, a Premiership club tried to lure him away - was it Palace? But Kieran said no, as he felt his work at Ipswich wasn’t done. There’s loyalty (I’m looking at you, Chris Wilder.) Personally, I’d like to see him take The Tractor Boys up. It’s a very friendly, well-run club with no airs and graces, and would at least prevent all 3 of last season’s Premiership relegation teams from making an instant return. And who’s to say, if he does win a second successive promotion, that he won’t keep them up there and ultimately go on to take Ipswich back to something like the amazing levels they achieved between 1961 and 1982? (For the record: First division champions 1962; FA Cup winners 1978; UEFA Cup winners 1981).

The Tractor Boys have scored an impressive 84 goals, the best in the division, and have conceded 52. Top scorers are Conor Chaplin and Nathan Broadhead with 13 apiece, Omari Hutchinson has 7 and George Hirst and Kieffer Moore 6 each. Wales international Moore was an astute January signing - I thought he would have done a good job for us - as he appears to have scored his 6 goals in just 13 games.

We may face our former midfielder, Sam Morsy, who is still biting people’s legs. Should we have sold him? And they have Massimo Luongo, who didn’t actually play for us, but has been starring for Town this season.

Town have won 15 of their 21 home games, losing just one. Their goalless draw v Watford in midweek extended their unbeaten home record to 19 games and they are second, a point ahead of Leeds. Boro will need to be at our absolute best to prevent Ipswich from adding to their goals-for total and extending that run further. Portman Road hasn’t been a particularly happy hunting-ground for us in recent years. I don’t think that will change this week. I think this will probably be a case of watching from behind the sofa, as John R said on the last thread! We said much the same before the Leicester and Southampton away games, of course, but I can’t honestly see us getting anything from this one.

Of course, we were all really hoping Ipswich would do us a favour by beating neighbours Norwich last weekend. That, coupled with a Boro home win, would have reduced the gap to just 3 points. Sadly, it wasn’t to be and left us with a mountain to climb. I’m sure our attempts to scale it finally come to an end at Hull. But Town are having a bit of stage fright right now, getting somewhat nervy as the final key games approach. A loss to Norwich and a draw against Watford might just make them desperate. Keeping them out by half-time might just induce some panic. And Latte Lath is on fire! There might be a slim chance after all …….

I would probably keep the same side that started against Hull, but I’d like to see Bangura given a run out for at least half an hour. He has pace to burn, so let’s use it. It would also be good to see Sonny Finch in partnership with Latte Lath at some point. And then, there’s the mysterious case of the missing Hackney. Before the Swansea game, during the warm-up, I noticed him pull up and start exercising his leg in discussion with the coaches. He didn’t look to have fluid movement. He didn’t make the bench at Hull. I wondered if he’d tweaked something. MC says it’s no drama, he’s just being cautious. Let’s hope so. If Hackney has to miss the remaining games so he can come back stronger at the start of next season, rather than risk setbacks, then so be it. I’d be fine with that, and I’d be fine with trusting Howson and O’Brien - I don’t think Hull’s second goal was O’Brien’s fault.

Of course, for Boro, this game doesn’t really matter. We’re not going to the playoffs. Nonetheless, we’ll probably be backed by a sizeable following who will expect us to turn up and be competitive. I don’t want to see or hear about any signs of players with their feet up in their flip flops and sunglasses. Let’s give them a game. I’d like Michael Carrick to get one over on his old buddy, just for old times’ sake! UTB.


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A thoughful opener, Clive, well up to the now expected standard.  👍 😉

And as thoughts turn to next season, with Boro still stuck in the Champo, news hot off the presses with SheffU likely to be one of the teams fighting for promotion (back) to the Prem & starting with an immediate handicap:

https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/football/68790604


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Clive 

Just what we needed to cheer us all up a well written opener.

many thanks 

OFB


Clive Hurren
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@stircrazy 

I like it. Anything that damages Wilder’s interests is fine by me! 


   
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Clive Hurren
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@original-fat-bob 

Irony’s not dead yet, then, OFB?! 🤭 I got depressed just planning the thing! 


   
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Thanks Clive for the opener. Having lived and worked in Ipswich for ten years in the Seventies and eighties, even acting as fourth official twice during my refereeing days. So I saw a lot of the Town during that time and my wife's family all still live there so I have to keep tabs on them. I think that they are quite well off financially as they have just sold a 40% stake to a US based private equity firm for 105 million pounds. This is direct investment not a sale of shares. They are currently owned by an American management fund. On the pitch they have created some interesting stats which the Boro need to be wary of. They score lots of late goals, 25 this season after the 75th minute, we have 15, but surprisingly, we have only conceded 8 after 75 minutes (second best in League). They concede most of their goals early 14 in first 15 minutes, worst in division apart from Rotherham. They also have a couple of records this season to do with subs. They have used the most in the EFL 201 and those subs have scored 23 goals and nine different subs have scored. In our case we have made 159 substitutions and these subs have scored 10 goals. I think the reason that there bench numbers are high is that they have a squad of players of equal ability. On Wednesday Chaplin was on the bench. Sometimes this season at times MC must have looked at the bench and wondered if any of them would make a difference. As Clive said they have let in as many goals as we have so there is hope and they haven't scored in two games. I think that Isiah Jones will be important on Saturday as Davis their left back has 16 assists this season so needs to be kept quiet.


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@clive-hurren 

What a brilliant opener and a most excellent introduction to their young manager. Too drawer Clive. Well done.

I have to say that having read that, I am in absolute agreement with you re OFB 😉 . It is difficult to imagine we will come away with any points. That said. There is always hope. Earlier this week,  Werder was suggesting that perhaps our recent surge to the top of the form table has something to do with the pressure being off. Of course, as we took to the field in Hull, that pressure was definitely back and we fluffed our lines. While still possible in one of our time lines, surely everyone realises that finishing 6th is the most improbable of our potential futures, in which case the pressure is off again.

It would be nice to think so, that the presure is off and Typical Boro will show up to upset the odds, much as they have done so consistently against the Foxes and the Saints. However, unlike either of those high fliers, Ipswich took all three points from us at the Riverside earlier in the season. I think this means the omens are not so good for us.

I think that on balance I will be joining everyone that is behind the sofa. Well at least metaphorically. We have a visitor this weekend and we will actually visiting the recently opened new Perth Museum on Saturday afternoon. Hopefully that will be a sufficient distraction, at least until we get home and I can have something strong in a glass to help me cope with the result expect to see. 

As always I hope we will win, but can't see it this time. Regardless, I really do hope Ipswich finish in the top two to win promotion.

This post was modified 2 months ago by Powmill-Naemore

   
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Nothing to disagree with in Clive's very agreeable Opener.  Well done.  I enjoyed reading it.  I'd LOVE IT, just LOVE IT, if Ipswich were promoted. I agree with your comments about that club and it would be wonderful if at least one of the clubs to go up happened NOT to be a moneybags club, keeping hold of its advantage from a parachute payment. It would almost give you faith that there is a way to break the glass ceiling. 

Don't get me wrong here, I am aware that an American pension fund (Gamechanger20 Ltd), with some $10.8 Bn backing, is behind the club but they haven't been splurging cash - three purchases throughout this season so far at a total cost of £4.6M, and some loan signings. Even BORO could afford that.

This post was modified 2 months ago by Forever Dormo

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@forever-dormo 

I think that one of the reasons that they have been so successful is that they have kept the bulk of the team that got them promoted so have played together for nearly two seasons. Last season they paid out fairly large sums for a League 1 side. Davis came from Leeds for over a million and they spent similar amounts on Broadhead from Everton. This season the spent a rumoured 4million on George Hirst from Leicester, who had been on loan there last season.


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Excellent opener thank you Clive.  I particularly liked your background information on KM who I knew nothing about at all until now.

Ipswich have certainly surprised me this season, after their bright start I fully expected them to fall away as the season progressed as I thought that their squad would not be strong enough; how wrong was I!

Like many, I have a soft spot for Ipswich as I lived and worked in East Anglia for many years and Ipswich was only 20 miles from home so I visited regularly for work and social events, football included but I believe I only saw one win (during Jack’s tenure and when Bobby Robson was their manager).

I think this could be our toughest league test of this season and for me a draw would be a good result.  Part of me, however, thinks unfortunately that this also could be the start of a losing run until season end. I hope not! ☹️😎


Clive Hurren
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@mw-in-darwin 

Brilliant statistics, which I’d never seen. That fact about the substitutes and how many goals they’ve scored is amazing - especially, as you say, when you compare that to Boro’s real lack of options to change a game. 

Can I ask what your source is for these? It would be really useful for writing next season’s openers. 


   
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Clive, a great opener thank you for effort and your enlightening research, like others I could not have named their manager.

As well as my thanks to you can I extend that appreciation to all of the headline writers this season and those to come. Your efforts have kept me interested and looking forward to the next preview through what has been a difficult year.

Thank you all.

All the best everyone.

UTB,

John

PS I've got a new cushion for the back of the couch on Saturday.

This post was modified 1 month ago by John Richardson

   
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@clive-hurren 

This is the goal scored times

https://www.soccerstats.com/timing.asp?league=england2

The substitutes info

https://theanalyst.com/eu/2024/03/substitutes-breaking-records-english-football-league/

The subs article was only up until the International Break so I added the games after that.

I was first alettred by a Facebook post to the data as it related to Ipswich.


   
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Pedro de Espana
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Thank you Clive for the "stonker" of a Headliner, well put together. 

Yes it would be nice if they got an  auto promotion to scupper one of the three relegated teams. Unfortunately that would probably make next season even harder to achieve a top six place.

What was also surprising, was MW in Darwin's post saying they had just sold 40% for 105 million. That values them at around 260 million. Amazing. 

What is MFC valued at? I would have thought a lot less?


Martin Bellamy
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Great work, Clive - I think I learned more from this starter than from any earlier ones, which is quite something, given the quality produced all season on here. 
I can’t see us getting anything from this game but I guess I’d take a draw, if only to keep our current unbeaten run intact. 

 

 


Clive Hurren
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@mw-in-darwin 

Excellent, mw, thank you! 


   
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Thanks, Clive, for another excellent opener. I was one of many who thought Ipswich would do well but wouldn't be able to sustain a play-off finish. Goes to show what I know.

I've just had a couple of long train journeys (to and from South Wales by coincidence) and listened to some of the price of football podcast by Kieran Maguire. The comments about the Ipswich investment were particularly interesting. 

The money, £100m for 40%, valuing Ipswich at around £260m comes from an American hedge fund. It seems massively over the top seeing as WBA have just been sold for around £60m. However, Maguire made the point that buying a club in the US would cost you £500m as a starting point and return a lot less than a Championship club. 

English football is very attractive to US sports investors because it has, for them, a relatively low buy-in cost, is conducted in English, massive broadcast reach, similar investing culture and is, currently, on trend. 

There has been massive inflation on the back of this. It looks like even middling Premier clubs like Palace are now attracting valuations around the £500-£600m mark. 

The ironic thing is that thanks to P&S (the rebranded FFP) Ipswich can't spend very much of the £100m without breaking their P&S limits. I suspect, if they get promoted, that they'll be looking at a net transfer spend of around £50m. 

This is all relevant for us because despite what the more doom-ridden members of our fan base think, we're a massive investment opportunity. We have Premier league infrastructure and the potential to be a competitor in the Premier league for the lowest tier of European football. I would value us at more than Ipswich. 


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@deleriad 

I think that an amount of the new money will go into redevelopment at Portman Road. Their plans include an aquatic Centre and hotel on the current car park out side the ground, and a seven level car park will be built as well to replace the lost spaces, although how long it will take to get out of the top level after a match. Interestingly this season they put a cap on season tickets at 21000 so that they encouraged walk ups. They average 28840 this season, ours is 26723. They have increased their prices for next season by 8% and everyone seems fine with that rise as they have been well entertained this season, although not sure if they have a cap next season.


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Been full on with gardening before the fine weather breaks on Monday so before I return to attending the lawn a quick thanks to Clive for an excellent and interesting preview that introduced us to the Ipswich Manager. Also interesting to see the defensive record of both clubs is very similar, which may enforce the view that there is a risk in playing out from the back that probably needs the capability at the other end to score goals. Indeed, I guess the point of risking this strategy is to make scoring goals more likely and this season Carrick's team have been hampered in that department. 

So should be a good game today - not sure if I'll be able to watch the whole game but may see the first and last quarters unless I become transfixed!

This post was modified 1 month ago by werdermouth

   
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Team News...

Silvera in for the lacklustre Greenwood

Image


   
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Posted by: @werdermouth

Team News...

Silvera in for the lacklustre Greenwood

As predicted by CJ earlier:

https://www.gazettelive.co.uk/sport/football/football-news/middlesbrough-predicted-team-vs-ipswich-28981243?int_source=nba

😉

 


   
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News from the early kick-off courtesy of CJ:

Blackburn have taken a 1-0 lead at Elland Road which is a big goal at both ends of the table.  Could have implications in Boro's game as well, with Ipswich no doubt well aware what's happening in that game, with huge implications for them.

It could really buoy Ipswich this afternoon and Kieran McKenna has suggested his side are not feeling the pressure and performances prove that despite no wins in their last two. However, many of the regulars seem to feel they are showing signs of feeling the heat and that result could put extra pressures on their shoulders that they struggle to deal with.

And 1-0 to Blackburn is how it finished.  The loss pushes the Dirties down to third for now.


   
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ELL gives Boro the lead in the 20th minute, assisted by Luke Ayling:

Boro capitalise as Morsy's backpass isn't great for Hladky leading to a poor clearance. Boro take it from there, Azaz works it across to Ayling he delivers an excellent cross and Latte Lath splits the CBs before heading home.

ELL's 14th goal of the season.  🙂


   
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Predictably, the Tractor Boys equalise 10 minutes later (Luongo...) - CJ:

Hosts level through the ex-Boro man. Poor from Clarke. Another corner causing problems. Comes all the way through to the back post and Clarke looks like he's going to let it go, but Luongo arrives unexpectedly and slams home instead. Clarke should deal with it.

This post was modified 1 month ago by Stircrazy

   
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CJ's verdict on the first half:

Ipswich the better team here, but frustration for Boro. Like at Hull, they got the lead and a good position in the game only to squander it. Ipswich had plenty of efforts for more. Boro more looking for counters that look dangerous, but have largely lacked an end product.


   
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Pedro de Espana
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Well this afternoon really does highlight the unfortunate sale of Morsy who stands head and shoulders above what we have available. 
In midfield we do not have players who win more than less of the 50/50 balls, and Morsy ans Luongo are controlling the centre area.

As much as we have all complained about Greenwood, I am not convinced Silvera offers any more and being lightweight, loses the ball too easily. 


   
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Posted by: @pedro

Well this afternoon really does highlight the unfortunate sale of Morsy who stands head and shoulders above what we have available. 
In midfield we do not have players who win more than less of the 50/50 balls, and Morsy ans Luongo are controlling the centre area.

Who decided that it would be a good idea to sell Morsy?  Was it Pulis?

 


   
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Howson booked in the 57th minute.  First Boro substitution in the 68th:  Greenwood for Silvera!

CJ:

Decent from Silvera today. Looked lively on the counter when he could get on the ball. He wanted to make things happen.


   
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Pedro de Espana
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@stircrazy   If I remember correctly, we got Morsy on a free, so big(ish) wages and we needed to trim our overall costs. So we lost his wages and got a fee for him.


   
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Posted by: @pedro

@stircrazy   If I remember correctly, we got Morsy on a free, so big(ish) wages and we needed to trim our overall costs. So we lost his wages and got a fee for him.

OK, Pedro, thanks.

Barlaser on for Johnny H in the 86th minute.  Norwich a goal to the good at Preston...

 


   
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