It was clear to see that by the time Paul Jewell’s Ipswich Town had completed ninety minutes at London Road, there needed to be many changes made to the squad, if it were realistically going to challenge for a top six finish, this season.

A fourth straight defeat in a 7-1 battering against newly promoted Peterborough United was a shock to the system for everyone at the club, after countless attempts to prepare a side over the summer that would realistically challenge for promotion to the Premier League. It was certain that the defence and the non-existent midfield were to blame for the ai???horror showai??? that many Ipswich Fans witnessed that day.

Fans started to bemoan the decisions of allowing some of their best players such as MA?rton FA?lAi??p, Gareth McAuley, David Norris and Connor Wickham, leave during the summer. But the fees made from the likes of Connor Wickham gave Jewell the resources to build a side that he believed would challenge for promotion to the top flight.

Portman Road - Home of Ipswich Town

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Jewell used the money to buy nine new players during the summer, and town fans were rejoicing at the look of names such as Michael Chopra, A?var Ingimarsson and Jay Emmanuel-Thomas. But by the time Ipswich had been crushed live on sky in front of the whole nation, against Peterborough it was obvious that Jewell had to add to his inventory to try and pull Ipswich back to reality; challenging for a top 6 finish.

It was evident that the board were backing Jewell, even after the humiliating defeat against Peterborough, but Jewell also had the backing and belief of the Ipswich faithful. The fans believed that Jewell was the man to take Ipswich to the next level. And their faith was rewarded days later, when the club announced the triple signing of former loanee Daryl Murphy, towering centre half Ibrahima Sonko, and last yearai??i??s player of the season – although he was on loan – Jimmy Bullard. The signing of Bullard, especially, raised the hopes of town fans once again and showed the intent that Jewell had of cementing a place in the top 6.

Since then, the tables have turned for Ipswich; Undoubtedly, from the end of August to the start of October, town have taken on some of the top sides in the league and have really shown their desire to challenge for promotion this season. A home win against Leeds United which saw the return of Jimmy Bullard and the instalment of Ibrahima Sonko at the heart of the defence seemed to have given the team a new lease of life.

Striker Jason Scotland’sAi??equaliser with twentyAi??minutes to go canceled Ross McCormack’s goal, and on loan midfielder Keith Andrews continued his fine goal scoring form with a final minute deflected effort, which sunk Leeds hearts and ended Ipswichai??i??s four-game losing streak in the championship.

But Jewell, even though his squad had taken three points from a largely dominant Leeds, took negatives from the game and effectively saw space for improvement. Thatai??i??s when Jewell gained the services of Danny Collins on loan fromStokeCity with a view to a permanent move. Collins was fresh from Welsh international duty against England the previous week and went straight into the squad to face Blackpool at Bloomfield Road.

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Bowyer’s winner at Upton Park

But it looked to be business as usual as Town again lost the game against an unstoppable Blackpool side. Ai??Something had to change to ensure that town did not slip up again, as important games that could shape the season were just round the corner.

Next up, Town took on Coventry and it was clear to see the intent that Jewell had on proving that he had the players that would gain promotion. Many Ipswich fans were baffled about his decision to play four central midfielders in a diamond shaped 4-4-2 formation; the names Bowyer, Andrews, Leadbitter and Bullard, had never before been seen on the same team sheet and many fans questioned Jewellai??i??s ability to manage the side. But it wasnai??i??t long before fans were questioning themselves, as Ipswich pulled off a well deserved 3-0 win over Coventry.

It was from the Coventry match that Paul Jewell established his own starting 11, using nine of his own signings and only two players from Roy Keaneai??i??s reign. Jewell chose to field the same starting eleven in the three games that followed the win against Coventry. Four points away from home, against two sides that have proved to be the teams to beat, in the shape of Middlesbrough and West Ham United, can only be a good sign of the work and effort Jewell and his team are putting in.

A late winner at Upton Park by former West Ham favourite Lee Bowyer saw Town walk away with three points. A win of that magnitude, could have only been a dream for Town fans that have seen their side lose to West ham on numerous occasions in the past. But things seem to be on the up for Ipswich after taking another win against high-flying Brighton & Hove Albion at Portman Road, thanks to Michael Chopra who regained form with two second half goals, just in time to send Brighton back to the AMEX stadium with nothing.

Itai??i??s true to say, by the performances witnessed against some of the best sides in the league, that things only seem to be getting better for the Blues and that they have finally turned a corner. Their strength and form on the field will now be tested in their next three games in the league, starting with Malky Mackayai??i??s Cardiff City after the International break, quickly followed by the visits of Portsmouth and Crystal Palace to Portman Road within a Week.

After a real low, the Tractor Boys seem to be riding a high wave and are only one point away from the play-off places. Early doors yet, but as the table shapes up, expect Paul Jewell’s men to be mounting a hefty challenge for promotion.

Ai??—————-

Written by Ashley Symonds

You can follow the author on twitter @AshleySymonds92

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One Response to “Ipswich Town’s Corner: Jewell’s Changes Steer Blues To Top Six Championship Challenge”

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  1. Good article Ashley. All the best for the season.