I LEFT Ipswich on Saturday evening with a little spring in my step.

The sun was shining, dinner was waiting for me, and Ipswich Town had shown enough signs to suggest that this season could be a very interesting one indeed.

The Blues might have lost 2-1 to Premier League Wolves but anyone who was at the game - admittedly there was barely over 5,000 inside Portman Road - would have left knowing that Ipswich had more than matched their visitors for an hour. Indeed, it was only when the likes of Stephen Hunt,  Steven Fletcher and Jamie O'Hara arrived on the scene that Wolves showed their mettle.

Where Paul Jewell's new boys had previously looked like strangers in other friendlies, they upped their game on their biggest stage to date to prove why many outside Suffolk are tipping the Town to be among the top six.

Pretty much everyone impressed on Saturday with all eyes now focusing on Ashton Gate, home of Bristol City, for Saturday's opener.

I say 'pretty much' as Jay Emmanuel-Thomas, the newest of the new boys, flattered to deceive on the left of what was, by all intents and purposes, a 4-5-1 formation.

Jewell was right to change things around in the pre-season 'showcase' and the compact nature of Town's play, aided by some flair and invention in their passing, suggests it could be a useful tool on trips to Upton Park, St Andrews and the newly-named King Power Stadium (home of Leicester City to those who don't know).

But Portman Road should be different. And so should Ashton Gate in five days time. Town must be hard to beat but they must also impose themselves on their opponents.

Bristol City won't be in the promotion shake-up come next May - you read it here (almost) first. And while they have some attacking guile (Nicky Maynard is a personal fave of mine), manager Keith Millen has some well-publicised defensive headaches which his opposite number at the weekend should be looking to exploit.

The best way for Jewell to do this is to revert back to a traditional 4-4-2 formation.

For all of Michael Chopra's endeavour against Wolves, he remained an isolated figure at times even if Lee Bowyer did support him to fine effect in the final minute of the first half.

Emmanuel-Thomas has stated he wants to play behind Chopra rather than on the wing while even Jason Scotland is a decent option alongside the former Cardiff man after impressing in pre-season.

Jewell has the attacking options to play with two up-top even if he seems to have some reservations about the solidity of his four midfielders behind them.

But Chopra is key to all this. The Blues need to deploy anything and everything that will make our man Mike score goals and that is why it has to be a return to basics.

 

What do you think? Should Town play 4-4-2 against Bristol City on Saturday or continue with a 4-3-3/4-5-1 formation? Let me know your thoughts via dave.gooderham@archant.co.uk