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first_imgIpswich Town Share on Twitter Share on WhatsApp Read more Share on Pinterest Share on LinkedIn Against Brentford Ipswich fielded four specialist full-backs in defence and, through a sheer lack of available midfielders, were forced to use all four of their strikers from the start. They have had to muddle through and have, in each of their games, spent periods riding their luck. They have taken 34 shots and their opponents have attempted 82; their “expected goals” tally for the four games is just 4.3. In truth, though, there is little for the statistics evangelists to extrapolate from that: Ipswich have been improvising to the extent that no one can really say how they will settle down when players return to fitness. McCarthy is arguably at his best when his back is against the wall and the key to their season will be in how he manages a fuller set of resources.If nothing else they have given themselves a platform for a shot at better times. And should things unravel now, the early season has brought another bonus. On Tuesday night, McCarthy selected a team whose outfielders had an average age of 19.3 for a League Cup tie at Crystal Palace. They ran strong Premier League opponents close before losing 2-1; two of those players, the midfielders Flynn Downes and Tristan Nydam, have already impressed in the Championship this season and an academy that had lost its way in recent years appears to be thriving once more under the outstanding leadership of Bryan Klug. Almost 2,000 supporters cheered Ipswich’s youngsters off the pitch at Selhurst Park; it was a night without precedent in the club’s history and added to the feeling that, at long last, a tide might be turning.Fulham, who twice beat Ipswich soundly last season, may well deliver a reality check. There is no escaping that the peace between McCarthy and the fans is brittle enough to disintegrate with a run of bad results but Ipswich hope to feed from the buzz. “There was a real negative atmosphere around the place, not just here at the training ground but also at the stadium as well,” the forward Freddie Sears said on Thursday of last season’s depths. “But it has been different this season and the fans have been great.” More of the same and they might accept that, iPad or not, McCarthy knows a thing or two about this lark after all. Topics Share on Facebook James McArthur breaks down Ipswich young bloods to take Palace through Championshipcenter_img The wit may not change but there is a sense of transformation around Ipswich. A 2-0 win over Brentford put them into the top two and brought up maximum points from their first four games; if Fulham are beaten at Portman Road on Saturday it will be the club’s best start to a season and the remove from 2016-17, an unhappy campaign that brought widespread calls for McCarthy’s head, could hardly be more pronounced.These are early days but the shaft of light is clear to everyone around Ipswich. Last season’s 16th place was their worst in 58 years and it had not been a difficult decline to foresee. Awash with optimism and new money when Marcus Evans took over in 2007, they have been outstripped largely due to a combination of parachute payments, wealthier backers and their own poor decisions. Most would agree McCarthy’s appointment in 2012 was the best call made during that decade but by May, with on- and off-field aims apparently stretching no further than to make do and survive, patience with the status quo had been thoroughly exhausted.At that stage there would have been little dissent if McCarthy had been thanked warmly for his efforts before moving on amicably. He hated what Portman Road, a buoyant venue at its best, had become over the previous nine months and it was tempting to wonder whether, at 58, he really needed any of this. Barbs at a fanbase that he felt, with justification, did not make enough allowances for the constraints he was working under became more frequent than was probably wise; chants of “Mick McCarthy, your football is shit” were commonplace, the high-tempo style that helped Ipswich overperform earlier in his reign having tailed off and left little that was commendable.Yet McCarthy stayed and the picture has changed markedly. Last season – particularly the accusations of boring football – stung him more than he might admit and there is a strong impression that he has a point to prove. The pledge this time round was to freshen things up, make Ipswich more entertaining and take things from there. So far McCarthy has delivered: Ipswich have scored nine goals, four in a riotous 4-3 win at Millwall, and the old energy appears to have returned. Martyn Waghorn and Joe Garner, two strikers unwanted by Rangers, were signed for under £1m between them and have already found the net seven times; David McGoldrick, comfortably among the division’s best players when fit, looks in his best nick for at least two years and there is a sharpness across the pitch that had been sorely missing before.The idea was three more new signings – Bersant Celina, Tom Adeyemi and Emyr Huws – would be integral to this approach. Remarkably all are yet to play a minute in the league; Celina, whose arrival on loan from Manchester City was a coup, has been recovering from bouts of flu, while Adeyemi has only just returned from his own illness and injury setbacks and Huws is likely to require achilles surgery that could sideline him for several months. Ipswich’s three first-choice centre-backs are all on the treatment table too; Andre Dozzell is among others out for the long term and the most eyecatching facet of their early-season form is that they have achieved it amid the worst injury crisis anybody can remember. Mick McCarthy Championship roundup: Onomah earns point for Aston Villa against Bristol City Mick McCarthy had just seen Ipswich Town go second in the Championship when it was put to him the only team sitting above them, on goal difference at that, was a Neil Warnock-managed Cardiff City. “Two old farts who know nothing about the game, hey?” he said. “I’ll have to get my iPad out now.” Read more Share via Email features Share on Messenger Reuse this contentlast_img read more