It has been 21 years since Ipswich Town were last in the Premier League. They have endured their own fair share of hardship. Long in the shadow of local rivals Norwich, is it finally time for the Tractor Boys to reach their peak?
After gaining automatic promotion to the Championship last season, Town have made an impressive start back in the second tier. They have lost just one game in 16, and sit second in the table, only behind a stellar Leicester city side on goal difference, who were relegated from the top flight in May. They have scored the most goals in the division with 36, but have conceded 21, the second most of teams in the top nine. So, whilst this free-scoring team are taking the championship by storm, they are leaking goals as well, which perhaps questions their sustainability at the summit of the table. We are around a third of the way through a very arduous campaign, so Ipswich will do well to hold their form through the rest of the season.
Prior to the season, no one expected Ipswich to be anywhere near the playoffs, let alone second. They have undergone over a decade of mediocrity, with mid table after mid table finish. It has been a while since they have had some success, and fans are starting to feel as if some fortune may be returning to Portman Road.
After 15 consecutive seasons in the Championship, they were relegated back in 2019, and have spent the last four seasons in League One. Pundits have always believed them to be too big of a club for League One but they did not even make the playoffs in their first three tries. But, last year, they finally managed to get back to the championship.
The question is, are they ready to take that next step? Could they find themselves back in the top flight for the first time in over 20 years, all whilst their Canary rivals struggle? Manager Kieran McKenna has greatly impressed since taking charge at the end of 2021. He took over when they were struggling mid-way through the campaign but they won seven out of his first ten game sin charge. They improved significant once he took over but they were unable to make up the ground to reach the playoffs that year. But, in his first full season in the dugout, he engineered a second place finish. And he has continued to impress at the next hurdle, winning manager of the month in September of this year after his side's fantastic start.
It is difficult to pick out a star [player in this Ipswich side because they are so well-rounded and have shared their goals around relatively equally. Conor Chaplin and Nathan Broadhead have six apiece but there are four players who have also scored four goals already for the men in blue. Players have insisted that they are taking each game as it comes and are not thinking too far ahead. But if Ipswich carry on playing the way that they have been, then they may be in with a shot of automatic promotion to the big time come May.