Opinion: Welcome to the Circus

In this week’s article, Matt takes a look at what has been a rather underwhelming couple of months in the life of Town fans.

Welcome To The Circus

A few weeks ago, I wrote a piece entitled ‘Matt’s Hot Takes’. In that piece I predicted three outcomes for the next 12 months, one of which was Town’s rise from League One to The Championship. Barely 2 months removed from writing such a piece, with the transfer window open and Lambert still with his name on the managerial door, I have never felt such underwhelming apathy towards the start of a new season. 

The club has clear philosophies in place and an overwhelming lack of quality and experience in the first team squad, how can anyone be deluded enough to believe we can mount a serious challenge? There’s a huge fight ahead of us and whilst no one can predict the outcome of a season before a ball has been kicked, I for one have never felt less excited about the prospects of our club. The wage cap has been introduced, there’s no signs of any additions and the whole club is becoming a complete circus.

Philosophies 

Successful clubs have clear philosophies. There is no doubt that a team with coherent goals and ambitions are far more likely to achieve those ambitions, opposed to a side that fumble their way through the ether. Whilst their relegation provided as much amusement as Leon Best’s attempts at being a striker, Norwich City, aided massively by Stuart Webber, are a side that have a clear philosophy.

Their squad is made up of youth players, a few experienced pros, and a number of young foreign imports with a large resale value. Norwich have the luxury of a constant stream of revenue attained through transfer fees. Buendia, Aarons and Godfrey are three examples of players that will be sold for a large profit, rewarding the intelligence of their transfer philosophy. 

What about Ipswich? This summer we’ve been linked with: a 33-year-old centre-back who near enough broke his leg in a drunken car crash, a 26-year-old striker who is currently trying to negotiate a better contract and no one else, of real note (Luke Garbutt aside). Whilst I appreciate that press speculation doesn’t provide a full picture, the level of due diligence and preparation is embarrassing.

The club should have been aware of top players that were coming to the end of their contracts and already approached them regarding potential deals.

Instead, our fanbase watches our rivals strengthen and continually reads stories about our best players being linked with moves away. This transfer window so far has been nothing short of shambolic and the lack of a clear philosophy will prove to be one of the biggest factors in this club’s demise.

Do we want to sign quality from abroad? Do we look to the lower leagues? Do we recruit from the fringes of top academies? We simply have no idea what kind of club/team we want to be and the sooner we get some sort of clarity on the direction of the side, maybe we can move forward. Until then, we will continue to be left behind, lead by a manager that possesses an archaic mentality. 

First Sign Of Insanity

They say the first sign of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. So far, Town’s squad and management team has not changed one bit.

The only noticeable difference is that Luke Garbutt, an influential player last term, is no longer here. Evans has opted to keep Lambert on board and hasn’t shown any desire (so far) to invest in the first team squad.

He is the ringleader of the apparent circus, he is the main culprit who has all the responsibility and no desire to take advantage of the wonderful opportunity afforded him. Has everyone forgotten that this team finished 11th in League One? Don’t get me wrong, there are some good players in our side, but a few good players doesn’t make a title winning team and this side is far off being able to compete, even in League one. 

My biggest qualm comes with Lambert. It’s been reported that he has laid into the team for not being good enough last year. Of course, this is true, but is he holding himself to account? I would have more respect for the man if he could openly admit that he got things wrong and promise the fans that the same mistakes won’t be made again. But that isn’t true.

Instead, Lambert will revert to his habitual state of lottery wheels and 4-3-3 and the same issues will flare up. Evans’ blind faith in a man whose win percentage reads worse than a coronavirus rate of infection chart is staggering.

In my opinion, the fact that Lambert has kept his job is nothing short of a disgrace. It shows that Evans has simply given up and is willing to allow this club to fail in the hands of a manager at the end of his career. Don’t get me wrong, I want nothing more than for Lambert to succeed. I would love to be wrong, I would love for Lambert to turn around and flash his middle finger at me after he’s lifted the league title, but can anyone really see that happening? In order to move forward, you have to change, and this is no longer an issue of the club standing still, it’s a worrying signal that this club is sinking without a trace. 

There’s a genuine sense of belief that this team can suddenly turn into title challengers and whilst the injury slate has almost been wiped clean, I still have serious doubts about their credentials.

The weight of expectation will weigh heavy on the shoulders of the young players, and the veterans in the squad are another year older, their legs another year closer to giving up. I was full of hope and ambition two months ago, but now I can’t help but feel utterly dejected about the next 10 months of staggered, fan-free football.

The constant stream of negative, disappointing news has been overwhelming. I genuinely didn’t believe this club could sink any further, but now I fear our dramatic collapse hasn’t yet finished. 

A Plea

We’re all aware of how far we’ve fallen. The pain of relegation was tough to take and the acceptance of our current position is even worse. The players, manager and board have let the fans down immensely and I plead to them that they all turn a new leaf heading into the next campaign.

The players need to accept that they haven’t been good enough, the manager needs to identify his flaws and quickly correct them, and Marcus Evans needs to pull his finger out. We have heard from Lee O’Neil and Lambert about the ambitions of next season, but what about Evans? 

We need to hear from the man at the top, in order to understand the true ambitions and prospects of this club. We have fallen lower than we ever thought we would and it’s a collective effort that will bring us back. With games being played behind closed doors, the burden of responsibility can’t be pushed onto the fans, it now solely lays at the feet of the players and the manager.

Marcus needs to back the man that he decided to keep and if he doesn’t, then he once again needs to seriously re-assess his position as the owner of Ipswich Town Football Club. Laugh all you like, but Ipswich is being judged as an up-and-coming town and with improvements being made across the board, wouldn’t it be nice to have a football club that we could be proud of?

I wrote a piece in homage of Bobby Robson last week, lord only knows what he would make of this complete and utter circus. We have endured a decade of failure and I can assure you, it won’t be accepted for much longer. 

Thank you for reading this week’s column! Feel free to send your thoughts to me (@MattWHF) or to Talk of the Town (@tott_online)! Keep staying safe and I’ll see you next week!

Subscribe to our TOTT newsletter to ensure you keep up to date on all things related to Ipswich Town