Ipswich Town are flying high. Currently sitting second in the Championship, level on points with Leeds United, The Blues are on the hunt for their big return to the Premier League, 22 years after being relegated in the 2001/02 season. They will become one of only four teams to ever go from League 1 to the top tier in back to back seasons if they manage it, having secured promotion from the third tier last season with an incredible (but not quite as incredible as ours) points tally of 98.

As the Tractor Boys prepare to make the long ol’ trip down south this Saturday, I decided to find out a little bit more about the club aiming to do the improbable this season, and so I called in the expert. And so, ladies and gentleman, without further ado, this is my conversation with Ipswich superfan Matt Phillips from Talking Town.



What a season it’s been for you so far! Top two for much of the season, a bit of a dip in form, and now right in amongst it again. If you were offered the play-offs now, would you take it or are you really hoping to push on and pinch that coveted automatic spot?

We’d all have taken playoffs before a ball was kicked so personally, yes. But we have been riding a crest of a wave since promotion and there’s a strong feeling around Portman Road that we could still land top two. After decades in the doldrums it’s great to see. That said, Leeds look like they’ll take some stopping but we were saying that about Southampton a month ago so who knows?


What were your expectations at the start of the season?

My own feeling was between 8-10 and even that seemed a bit far fetched at the time, probably based on Sunderland making the top six last season albeit with a ridiculously low points total.


You’ve won your last 4 on the bounce, unbeaten in 5. Before that you hadn’t won in 3, including a loss to Maidstone in the FA Cup. What’s brought on this change in your fortunes?

We have a recognised centre forward again in Kieffer Moore. We’d lost George Hirst to a bad hamstring injury on Boxing Day against Leicester and we just didn’t have the firepower to turn a point into three in his absence. But Moore has returned to Portman Road on loan from Bournemouth, he got his big break with us almost a decade ago, and he’s looking every inch an international who has played at major tournaments.


After Mick McCarthy left in April 2018, you went through 7 managers (including caretakers) before settling down with Kieran McKenna in 2021. How do the fans feel about him?

According to my research he has the highest win percentage (57.1%) since Mick O’Brien back in 1936/37 (64.1%).

McKenna will go on the Mt. Rushmore of great ITFC managers, without a doubt. He’s the face of the Gamechanger ownership era at Ipswich Town, our salvation from the mind numbing football served up throughout the Marcus Evans era, McCarthy and Paul Lambert being the poster boys of dourness. What you’re seeing at Ipswich now is fans enthused and excited about their club, kids want player names on shirts, it is brilliant to see. Would have been nice if you’d let us pick up the League One silverware! Personally I like how you can draw a line from McKenna back to our history. Bobby Robson mentored Mourinho at Barca and the Special One brought through McKenna at Man Utd. I hope his career goes on and emulates those two greats.


You got a bit of business done in January, bringing in Ali Al-Hamdi, Kieffer Moore, Jeremy Sarmiento and Lewis Travis. How have they been looking for you since then?

Everyone is excited by Al-Hamadi, it’s been a while since we’ve had a cult hero in the mould of a Bontcho Genchev, Martiijn Reuser, Shefki Kuqi etc. Joe Royle once said that Kuqi would chase a crisp packet in the wind across the pitch and Al Hamadi looks like he’s cut from the same cloth. Moore, we’ve covered already, Sarmiento is a proper baller and is a great impact option from the bench while Travis is a safe pair of hands, a mopper upper in midfield.


Who do we need to watch out for on Saturday? Who’s likely to cause us a few problems?

Omari Hutchinson is a wide player on loan from Chelsea and is looking superb, very fast and now scoring goals, he’ll start at Home Park as we’ve lost Wes Burns to injury. Leif Davis is our marauding left back and closing in on the most assists in Championship history. When our skipper, Sam Morsy, is on song then we tend to pick up points.


What about weak areas? Where should we be looking to exploit to try and pinch the win?

We have been notoriously slow starters this season and have a habit of conceding inside the first 15 mins. That said we’ve picked up over 20 points from losing positions this season. But we can be open to counter attacks and always have some kind of defensive lapse about us. It is how we lost to Maidstone.


Any thoughts on our side and who may cause a couple of issues for you?

Anyone appearing on Talking Town channel liked Plymouth last season. The Pilgrims didn’t get any disrespect from us – and well done on winning the League One title. We all liked Cooper in goal and he still gets mentioned now on the show so it must be a blow that he’s out for Argyle. Whittaker of course is quality with 17 goals, a phenomenal return for a side in mid table and not forgetting Hardie either who has double figures.


Our league positions are slightly different to last season when we just pipped you to the title of League 1 Champions! What’s changed this season, where you now find yourselves in such a strong position, pushing for promotion to the Premier League?

Ipswich’s fortunes changed in the last third of last season, we played a more settled side and found our scoring boots, just as Sheff Wed capitulated. We’ve kept that momentum going this season with a rapid passing style that starts with Haldky in goal, our backup to Walton last season. Walton was out for months after a foot injury in the summer and Haldky’s sweeper keeper role has certainly played a huge part this season.


We like to think of Home Park as a bit of a fortress, but you’ve been exceptional away from home this season. What’s your opinion on an away day in Plymouth? Are you coming here looking for/ expecting the win?

We all recognise that Plymouth is a tough place to go and we never won there in League One so another tough afternoon is in store. But we’ve come through a lot of those this season, most recently at Swansea in the pouring rain where we defended for lives to win 2-1.

(Edit: Ipswich Town have beaten Argyle at Home Park in League One – back in 2020)


With that said score prediction?

Was interesting to see you lost 3-0 at home to WBA and then followed it up with a win at Boro. So there’s an element of unpredictability there. It’s about time we won at Plymouth though so I’m going 3-2 Ipswich, just as it was at Portman Road back in October