Nobody personified Ipswich Town’s against-the-odds triumphs of the 1980s more than captain Terry Butcher, a rock in the centre of the Tractor Boys’ defence, as they lifted the UEFA Cup and finished second in the top-flight two seasons in a row.
And now the 57-year-old is tipping under-pressure boss Mick McCarthy to revive the club’s fortunes, despite a difficult first part of the season.
Ipswich currently lie in 17th spot in the Championship, but with the Suffolk outfit just six points off the play-off spots, Butcher sees the end of season bonanza as a reasonable target for the club, telling Ladbrokes News:
“If the club can keep everybody fit, they have a good chance of making the top-six. You look at displays like the 2-1 win at Sheffield Wednesday earlier this month, and it’s clear that Mick has put a very good team together.”
He added: “Consistency has been the issue, but when you have the attacking threat of players like David McGoldrick, Freddie Sears and Jonny Williams, then promotion is certainly possible.”
And the former Inverness Caledonian Thistle boss was bullish in his support of Big Mick, telling us:
“He can turn things around, without a shadow of a doubt. Mick’s experienced and he’s built a side who aren’t afraid of a scrap. You need to have that quality in the Championship.”
Butcher continued: “In recent weeks, Ipswich have shipped quite a few goals, but if you look at the defence Mick has built – with the likes of Christophe Berra, Adam Webster and Tommy Smith – there’s the core of a very solid side.
That’s backed up by the seven clean sheets the Portman Road outfit chalked up in their first 13 Championship games. But it’s the future, not the past, which is the main reason for Butcher’s confidence.
“I think the future’s very bright”, the former Rangers ace explained. “More and more good players are coming through the ranks. You’ve got players like Teddy Bishop and Andre Dozzell breaking into the team.”
“Andre’s dad Jason [Dozzell] played with me at Ipswich back in the 1980s, so seeing him in the first-team made me feel a bit old! But he’s a really exciting prospect for the club.”
Having spent more than 12 years in management with eight different clubs, Butcher knows a thing or two about tactics, and feels that criticism of McCarthy’s style has been unfair.
“He has an unfair reputation for ‘long ball’, when in truth the sides he’d led to promotion – Sunderland and Wolves – played some good football. And this Ipswich side are playing decent football, despite having struggled for goals a bit.”
And nothing would please Butcher more than seeing his boyhood club reach the Premier League once again after a 14-year absence.
“Ipswich have always been my team and always will be. Every time I go back to Portman Road, I get a real buzz. It’s such a special place for me. If they can get back to the top-tier, I’ll be absolutely delighted.”
Meanwhile, optimistic fans can back the Suffolk side to win promotion to the Premier League this season at the sizeable price of 33/1.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing