Date: 7th August 2011 at 9:30pm
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Mixed feelings for fans over pre-season preparations as Ipswich begin 2011/12 Championship campaign

So the football is finally back and Ipswich Town have kicked off their 2011/12 Championship campaign. The question is, are they truly ready for the challenge that lies ahead?

After another disappointing mid-table finish last time out, manager Paul Jewell has set about strengthening his side for a playoff push in his first full season in charge. Seven summer signings have arrived with Michael Chopra, Ivar Ingimarsson, Nathan Ellington, Aaron Cresswell, Lee Bowyer, Jay Emmanuel-Thomas and David Stockdale adding a mixture of youth and experience to the squad.

Despite being busy in the transfer market however, there are still some areas of concern in the Town team, particularly at centre-back, right-back and central midfield. What’s more, pre-season results have been somewhat mixed; two wins on the tour of Holland was followed by three successive draws to lower league clubs before a final defeat to Wolverhampton Wanderers.

We therefore decided to open a poll last Monday asking you whether you felt Town were actually ready for the new season. Here’s how you voted:

48% – Yes
47% – No
5% – Not Sure

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It is hardly an overwhelming vote of confidence from the Town fans. Though the ‘Yes’ vote just pips it, the result is almost a 50-50 split between those who feel Ipswich are ready and those who feel they are not.

Opinions on the Blues’ preparations for the new campaign have swung dramatically according to identical polls over the summer; having expressed concern over the apparent lack of activity in early June, supporters seemed much more satisfied with progress once signings had been made by early July.

Confidence seems to have waned since then, perhaps because further signings have been slow to arrive or because of friendly results. The final outcome is however an improvement on the early indications in this poll; at one stage, over 70% of voters felt that Ipswich were ill-prepared for the new campaign, but this total gradually decreased as the week went on, perhaps helped in part by the late signings of Emmanuel-Thomas and Stockdale.

Even so, it is clear that many feel boss Jewell still has work to do to turn Ipswich into genuine contenders this year. Despite Saturday’s opening victory over Bristol City putting the Blues top of the Championship for the opening weekend, any hopes of staying in the upper reaches of the table could well be dashed without further reinforcements. The club is understood to be lining up more signings this week, with Blackburn Rovers midfielder Keith Andrews expected to sign a loan deal along with a defender.

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This week’s poll: ‘Where do you think Ipswich Town will finish the new 2011/12 season?’ (See right-hand column to view the list and place your vote)

How have you felt about Ipswich’s pre-season preparations? Do you think we are ready for the season ahead, or do you feel improvements still need to be made? Share your thoughts using the comment box below.

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