Ipswich Town fans will be hoping for better from their side when their 2017/18 Championship campaign gets underway in six weeks’ time.
Mick McCarthy’s men finished sixth in 2015 and then seventh in 2016 to demonstrate their capabilities near the top of the division, yet they were unable to replicate that last term, finishing 16th in the Championship with their lowest points tally since they were relegated from the top-flight in 2002.
Nonetheless, the former Sunderland and Wolves will be working hard over the summer to make sure that they aren’t sucked into a relegation battle next season, given they only finished four points clear of danger, and it’s clear from their shortcomings last time round that reinforcements are necessary to climb the division.
And that’s why they must follow-through their reported interest, and indeed fend off competition from Hearts, to land Norwich City striker Kyle Lafferty this summer.
The 29-year-old will leave Carrow Road at the expiration of his contract in a weeks’ time, and McCarthy’s men are a reported admirer of the £1.28 million-rated Northern Ireland international (as per Transfermarkt) in a bid to solve their own goal-scoring woes.
And those woes alongside their shoe-string transfer budget must convince McCarthy to do all he can to bring the forward the 44 miles south to Portman Road this summer.
The Tractor Boys seriously struggled in front of goal last term, bagging just 48 goals in their 46 Championship matches, a tally better than just three other sides in the division, two of which were relegated (Wigan Athletic and Rotherham United).
Quite simply, that is not good enough.
And when the top-scorer is Tom Lawrence with just nine, and when the other five strikers of Leon Best, Brett Pitman, David McGoldrick, Luke Varney, and Freddie Sears managed just 19 between them, it’s clear reinforcements are needed.
And it’s even clearer that they haven’t replaced the goals scored by former forward Daryl Murphy.
The 33-year-old left Portman Road last summer, as did 61 goals in 199 appearances for the Tractor Boys, and they quite simply didn’t replace either 12 months ago.
And that is why bringing someone like Lafferty, who has scored goals in the Championship before for Burnley, and indeed netted for Rangers, could be exactly what they need to climb the table next term.
The fact it would be a free transfer must also appeal to McCarthy, given the restricted finances available at the club, which makes even greater sense for the Suffolk-based club to seal a controversial deal for Lafferty in the coming weeks and months.