Ipswich Town supporters will be hoping for much better from their side when the new Championship season gets underway in August.
Mick McCarthy’s men recorded three successive top ten finishes prior to the 2016/17 campaign and were tipped to do so once again, but struggled to 16th place in the end, finishing just four points clear of the bottom three.
And the former Sunderland and Wolves chief will know that serious reinforcements are needed in the summer if they are to not only climb the Championship table but also avoid the drop, and based on their shortcomings last term, attacking talent is certainly on the wishlist.
And that’s why they simply must target a move for Derby County striker Darren Bent this summer.
The 33-year-old has been at the iPro Stadium since 2015 following an ill-fated spell at Aston Villa, but hasn’t been assured of his future at the East Midlands outfit by new boss Gary Rowett, scoring just once under the former Birmingham manager since his appointment in March.
And although the club have activated a clause in his contract to extend his stay by another year, it’s not a done deal that he’ll remain at Derby, and McCarthy should take advantage of any uncertainty and try and bring him to Portman Road this summer, 12 years on from Bent’s departure from the club.
And that’s because Bent would provide McCarthy with exactly the sort of player he didn’t have at his disposal last season: a goal-scorer.
The 33-year-old bagged ten goals in 37 league games last term for the Rams to finish the campaign as their top-scoring striker, and second only to winger Tom Ince in their overall goal-scoring charts.
However, his tally of ten would have put him at the top of Ipswich’s goal-scoring charts, one clear of Tom Lawrence and three clear of Freddie Sears, and there’s little doubt that their lack of goals was their biggest downfall last season.
The Tractor Boys mustered a paltry 48 goals in their 46 Championship games last term, with only four teams in the division netting fewer, two of which were relegated to League One.
And the warning signs must be there as a result, otherwise instead of looking up the table, Ipswich will be looking over their shoulders.
Ultimately, they didn’t replace Daryl Murphy last summer, who left the club for Rafa Benitez’s Newcastle United.
The striker scored 50 league goals in the three seasons prior to his departure last summer, and although he wasn’t the club’s top-scorer in two of those campaigns, he was a close second on both occasions.
And when you take those sorts of numbers out of a team, there’s little surprise that they struggled so much last term, as it was Murphy who was the one that, more often than not, got the goals and contributions when it mattered most.
And that’s why a move for Bent is imperative this summer.
Although he has spent much of his career in the Premier League and may be past his best, he still retains that predatory instinct in the box, an instinct Ipswich will need next season if they are to firstly avoid the drop, and indeed push on and climb the table.
Bent will likely have fond memories of Ipswich given that’s where he started his professional career, and indeed went on to net 56 times in 144 appearances between 2001 and 2005.
And McCarthy should look to bring him back to Portman Road this summer so his side can fare much better in the Championship next season.