North Stander: It ended up feeling like a loss as the rumour mill works overtime
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A two-goal lead is thrown away. TERRY HUNT admits this is as big a test for manager, players and fans as he can recall at Portman Road
Well, the Portman Road rumour mill is certainly working overtime at the moment.
There is all sorts of gossip flying around, none of it particularly positive.
But is any of it true?
Or is it just the kind of chit-chat among fans which always emerges when success is proving hard to come by on the pitch?
I keep hearing that the dressing room is unhappy, and that Marcus Evans is close to ending Paul Hurst’s time at Ipswich Town.
I would be utterly amazed if Evans did wield the axe in the near future, because it would be such a radical change from the way he’s behaved before. As for the dressing room, well, how happy would we expect it to be after so long without a victory?
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Or maybe I’m just living in cloud cuckoo land...
What I do know for sure is that we’re a pretty poor team at the moment, and Saturday’s events didn’t help at all. Out of context, it would have looked like a half decent result.
But because we all had a glimpse of that elusive first win, it ended up feeling like we’d lost.
There were positives: another point, a place higher in the table, and a first Town goal for Jon Nolan. But the overall picture remains one of doom and gloom.
On top of everything else, we’re now getting injuries. The Jon Walters situation was desperately sad. Awful for him, awful for us. Along with lots of other people, I was delighted when he rejoined. I saw him as a major influence for the youngsters.
Our track record on bringing back former star strikers on loan isn’t a good one. Remember Shefki Kuqi and James Scowcroft coming back? Shefki got injured, and Scowie was just a pale shadow of the player we had loved before. Now Walters completes an unwanted hat-trick.
With Ellis Harrison out for the next couple of months, our attacking options look extremely limited – and it’s not as though we were exactly hammering in the goals before the injuries!
You never know, perhaps this will create an opportunity for Freddie Sears.
Maybe I’m stupid, but I still think Freddie is capable of scoring goals at this level, if he’s given a decent run in the team.
I was also encouraged to see Andre Dozzell in the squad on Saturday. I know I’m not the only Ipswich supporter who has been frustrated by his lack of first team action this season. His eye for a defence-splitting pass is precisely what we need at the moment.
Events elsewhere are rubbing salt in our wounds.
Our friends north of the border have discovered some form since playing us, and now nestle smugly in the top six. Goodness knows how – they were awful in the derby.
Then there’s David McGoldrick, who is rattling in the goals for Sheffield United, to help remind us of what we’re missing this season. As if we really need reminding...
But we know in our heart of hearts that there’s absolutely no point looking enviously, or nostalgically, elsewhere.
What we need to focus on is the very worrying situation at our own club.
All is certainly not lost. We are still less than a quarter of the way through the season.
Plenty of time to sort it out and start climbing the table. Look at the way we started Roy Keane’s first full season. The winless run went on much longer than this and we ended comfortably in mid-table. Not that I am trying to portray Keane’s tenure as some kind of golden era!
The big difference is that back then the team contained experience and quality. We are desperately short of both right now.
This is the biggest test I can recall of the three vital elements of all football clubs: the manager, the players, and the supporters.
Unless he is axed, we will find out a great deal about Paul Hurst as a manager in the next few months. Can he turn this round? How strong are his powers of inspiration and motivation?
As far as the players are concerned, they have a choice.
They can either sulk, let their heads drop, and look around for others to blame for their predicament, or they can use this crisis as a reason to pull together, and work their socks off to get out of the mess.
We fans have a big part to play as well, especially in the home games.
I know it can be difficult to stay positive if what you’re watching is often poor, but let’s stay behind the team.
Booing them, as has happened in the last couple of matches at Portman Road, is utterly pointless.
Tuesday night against Middlesbrough is a really tough game, but if fans, players and manager work together, you never know – that first win might finally arrive.