I can never get too excited over pre-season wins. Essentially they’re just exercises in honing the players’ fitness and putting some miles in the legs.
This is why, in a Victor Meldrew style, I didn’t read too much into the 6-0 win over MK Dons at Colney on Friday afternoon.
Of course, nothing bad can come from a win, any win, let alone a six-nil-er – and especially after the season we just endured – but forgive me if I don’t get out the “we’ve turned a corner” bunting just yet.
Russ Martin’s MK Dons are still feeling their way back. They may be a week or so ahead in their pre-season prep and have already played a couple of friendlies, but in terms of kicking a ball in anger… try March 7 vs Doncaster.
Those genuinely getting read to board HMS Pi$$ this League (it’s an Ipswich thing) would be well advised to exercise caution when teetering along the gangplank.
But for the fans who jump up and cheer goals in pre-season as if they were in a cup final, they’re here. Enjoy,
Equally, those who pointed out to me the importance of getting a win and some goals under the collective belt after what occurred in the final nine games of the season, have a point.
Bigger, more important tests lie ahead of course, but the sooner that winning mentality of 2018/19 can be rediscovered at the expense of 2019/20’s oh-shit-here-we-go-again, the better.
Friday was a start.
As ever, it was good to see – albeit by a few carefully edited clips from the club – the new players kicking a ball wearing a City shirt for the first time. For me, they are the key to lifting the mood.
An interesting sub-plot to Friday’s events at Colney was a piece in The Athletic that suggested the club had contravened the latest quarantine rules in unveiling Spanish left-back Xavi Quintilla, signed on a season-long loan from Villarreal.
Now, I’ve long given up trying to keep up-to-date with this government’s ever-changing detailed guidance on almost everything to do with the pandemic – if ministers and cabinet advisers are not bothering to understand the guidance, how are we supposed to – but I do know Stuart Webber wouldn’t have blindly shown his new signing off to the press without first having done the research.
One thing we have learned about our sporting director in his two and a half years at the club is that no stone is left unturned in terms of preparation, and I’m pretty sure that includes the presenting of new signings to the press.
Until we learn more, I’m happy to file this one in the much-used, chances-to-have-a-dig-at-Norwich section.
By the same score, questions asked of the club’s decision to head to North Rhine-Westphalia for a week-long training camp, which includes three games against German opposition, ignore the fact that Germany’s handling of the pandemic has been rather more successful than our own.
Again, with all the correct protocols and procedures being followed, there can be little to pick holes in, unless you’re specifically looking for some.
Finally, the fixtures – a list of 46 games that miraculously concludes with City playing every team home and away. Who’d have guessed?
In keeping with the Meldrew theme, it’s not an annual event that gets me ‘buzzing’ particularly, especially when there is no Ipswich (h) or (a) in the list, but it did still produce “I don’t believe it” moment.
Other than said non-existent local derbies, the only dates of real significance are the opening and closing fixtures and, for those who go away, the one on Boxing Day. For those hardy souls, a trip to Carrow Road is infinitely more palatable than a trip to London or the home counties.
So, forgive me my Meldrew moment, when it was revealed that for the fourth season in a row, City are away at both extremities of season. Boxing Day too involves an away trip (Watford), making it three away days in four seasons – the anomaly being that never-to-be-forgotten meeting with Nottingham Forest.
It doesn’t really matter I guess, especially at the start of this new fan-less season, but to finish with a home game has to be an advantage if there’s something riding on it and there’s a stadium full of fans.
So, as ever, it feels like we come out the wrong side in a game of chance. Damn that fixtures computer programme.
The A-levels students had a song for it: f#!k the algorithm.