Ok?and breathe? Bolton Wanderers are eight games unbeaten, five wins on the bounce and just recorded their second clean sheet in succession. Who would have predicted that run of results three months ago? Well, I bet quite a few people.
If the Championship has taught us anything in recent seasons, one team goes on a ridiculous run of results and makes a charge for the playoffs – or top-two – succeeds and gains promotion. So, this year it must be our turn, right? What`s that? Oh yeah, Nottingham Forest are making exactly the same charge at exactly the same time and no doubt saying amongst themselves, ‘every year a team goes on a ridiculous run of results and makes a charge?` So, we`ll put a pin in that for the time being and focus on the upcoming fixture: Ipswich Town at Portman Road.
After the sacking of Owen Coyle not many fans admitted wanting the tactically-dated, Mick McCarthy as their new boss?until he took over The Tractor Boys and catapulted them out of the relegation zone. It seemed Ipswich only needed an adrenaline shot and McCarthy administered it with the effectiveness of Vincent Vega`s syringe-plunge into the Mia Wallace breastplate. The retrospective ‘shoulda, woulda coulda` callings for McCarthy`s appointment at the Reebok have since tapered after Dougie`s drip-fed philosophies started to bear fruit. McCarthy will be desperate to prove blowing the dust from his tactics book has been justified by doing the league double over Dougie`s avant-garde approach. Currently occupying Wanderers` old abode of 20th place in the table, Ipswich`s recent run has served up equal helpings of wins, losses and draws. Their last six results have read like a primary school IQ question: ‘Which letter is next in the following sequence? W D L W D L?` Let`s hope little Tommy hasn`t done his revision?
‘We are good? we have rested well and there are no new injuries on the treatment table which is nice to see and we are raring to go on Saturday. We are coming up against teams fighting for their lives now so we have to use our heads and not play emotionally? We played Barnsley a fortnight ago and it was a physical and very difficult game but we kept our nerve at the right time and we didn`t play with any emotion.` Lack of ’emotion` the order from Dougie. I think I know what he`s saying.
‘We were ruthless at the right times (against Barnsley) so it is an indication how it is going to be. I have full respect for Ipswich Town as a club and I respect their manager hugely in terms of what he does with his team. I always go into games regardless if we are off the back of a win or a defeat? I am looking forward to seeing how far we have come since the last time we played Ipswich Town where I thought we played very well for 75 minutes but we fell apart for 15 minutes.` Dougie seems quietly confident. That`s a good thing, right?
Ipswich Team News:
Frank Nouble, signed by Mick McCarthy from his old club Wolves, has been ruled out with a hamstring injury after making his first start against Posh. Winger Lee Martin serves the second of his three-match ban following his red card at Nottingham Forest and Richard Stearman could return to the starting XI after serving the one-match suspension he picked up in the same game.
Player to watch: David McGoldrick
After losing his talisman, DJ Campbell, McCarthy jumped for McGoldrick hoping for a like-for-like replacement. You would be forgiven for not knowing who owns the much-travelled striker, but his loan spell to Coventry City courtesy of his owners, Nottingham Forest, thrust him into fans` psyche as League One`s leading scorer. His name was also thrown around by Bolton fans in January as a potential signing. Good touch, good motor and quick!
Bolton Wanderers Team News:
The unfortunate Mavies aside, Wanderers` outfield contingent seem to have all their starters ready for battle. Holden`s face must be constantly appearing at Dougie`s window? Who does he drop, though? Bogdan thinks his groin is OK, so Lonergan`s hope for a third successive clean sheet may rely on the Hungarian`s ability to star-jump for the manager an hour before kickoff. Oh yeah, almost forgot, Keith Andrews` Achilles is stubbornly refusing to heal. Or does Dougie keep kicking it as he passes? Either way? meh?
Player to watch: Kevin Davies
Maybe not so much for his contribution but for whether he starts or not, SKD`s whereabouts on Saturday, come 3pm, is pivotal. If SKD starts, Dougie`s tactics are there for all to see: keep it tight for 70 minutes then bring on the cavalry to nick it. If he doesn`t start: attack? attack? attack, attack, attack! Maybe?
Match Facts & Stats
We all have our own salient memory of playing Ipswich. Whether it`s the Frank Worthington goal, Barry Knight-gate playoff game or the Freddie Bobic Hat-Trick at the Reebok, history seems to pitch us with Ipswich when we`re both fighting for the same conclusion; promotion or avoiding relegation. This time we want the exact opposite?
?and because of this, Ipswich will ask for their mummies, adopt the foetal position and collectively suck their thumbs. There will even be a window of time, during the 3pm kickoffs, when the fluctuating live league table shows Wanderers in that final playoff spot. Craig Davies will be Bo` Selected ahead of SKD and bag a brace. My head started the piece but my heart is finishing it? 1-3 to the visitors.
An awesome, bodacious Spring Break of two weeks then we`re down to the Valley against the away-specialists, Charlton Athletic.