Come on Ipswich Town, give us all something to shout about again!
- Credit: Picture: Steve Waller
Come on Town, give us all something to shout about again!
Let’s have this right; everyone associated with this great football club is desperate for the Blues to do well again – from the diehard fans, to local businesses and, yes, the media too.
This is a small provincial town and when its football club is thriving we all benefit.
I certainly took no pleasure in writing scathing page verdicts week-after-week during those bleak winter months. Every word requires extra care and attention. You’re constantly treading on eggshells. Players don’t like low ratings. The manager bristles at criticism. The same article can lead to duel accusations you’re either ‘in the club’s pocket’ or taking delight in twisting words and sticking the knife in.
Believe me, we’re not and we don’t. That phrase ‘bad news sells’... Well, in a sports context it doesn’t. No-one wants to read a report of a stale goalless draw. People have become fed-up of seeing phrases like ‘Groundhog Day’ and ‘treading water’.
Yes, heading into a 16th successive season of Championship football, it’s apathy, not anger, which has become the ruling emotion. Around 2,000 Town season ticket holders chose not to renew this summer, continuing a trend from the previous year. We’re down to a core of around 10,000 now. Fed up with forgettable footballing fare, fans are voting with their feet.
Cynicism is understandably deep-rooted in many following countless false dawns and disappointments and expectations have hit an all-time low.
- 1 Case of new Omicron Covid variant identified in Norfolk
- 2 Under-used council land to become sites for 3,000 homes
- 3 Weather warning issued as Suffolk could see snow fall tomorrow
- 4 New animal feed mill planned for Bury St Edmunds
- 5 Suffolk mass vaccination centre wants to jab 10,000 amid Omicron concern
- 6 25-year-old left eating disorder clinic prior to death on A14
- 7 New Ed Sheeran Christmas song with Elton John out this week
- 8 55 projects identified in major plans to transform transport
- 9 'I thought he was going to Ipswich' - rival boss reveals Blues interest in right-back
- 10 Arson probe launched after fire destroys car and caravan in Colchester
The bookies already had Town among the favourites for the drop at the start of the summer and those odds were slashed following last weekend’s 6-1 friendly thrashing at Charlton.
A desire to prove people wrong could yet prove to be Town’s greatest weapon though.
Just two years ago, and boy does it feel longer than that, the feelgood factor and sense of pride that came with a spirited sixth-place finish – the club’s first appearance in the play-offs for a decade – was tangible.
Remember, few foresaw that success happening back in the summer of 2014. Few envisaged Daryl Murphy scoring 27 league goals. Few thought that, on paper, a small squad assembled for modest transfer fees would compete with the big spenders.
They did though and we have to believe that can happen again.
The onus is, undoubtedly, on Mick McCarthy and his players to give us all something to shout about. And they all recognise that, believe me.
The straight-talking McCarthy was bullish and spiky when taking on his critics last season during the heat of a pressure-cooker situation. Following a summer break and time for reflection, he has adopted a tone of contrition. He knows the mood is on a knife’s edge.
Senior duo Luke Chambers and Bartosz Bialkowski have both accepted that the performances were simply not good enough when speaking to the press. If the players respect and love their boss as much as they say they do then they need to start playing like it.
Getting that underdog spirit back is going to be vital. Everyone needs to be pulling in the same direction again if Town are to beat the odds once more.
Behind-the-scenes, the club has undertaken a lot of good PR work to get that ball rolling. Putting the logo of Suffolk charity the East Anglia’s Children’s Hospice on the shirts, cutting matchday ticket prices and engaging with thousands of young fans at the recent Open Day has helped build the community and family feel which seemed to get lost along the way. Now it’s up to the staff and players to keep the momentum going.
Last weekend’s 6-1 friendly thrashing at Charlton helped bring some heat back to the bubbling pot of discontent, but prior to that there had been some encouraging signs in pre-season.
McCarthy wants his team to pass out from the back and be easier on the eye. Summer additions Joe Garner, Emyr Huws, Bersant Celina, Tom Adeyemi, and Dominic Iorfa, in addition to Adam Webster being fit again, will hopefully make the team more dynamic.
Has enough transfer business been done this summer? By general consensus, the Blues are probably a couple of quality additions short still.
The transfer window doesn’t shut until the end of August though. And a smaller squad size might just help foster that priceless quality of togetherness.
We’re at a crossroads moment and Town need a positive start.
It’s the hope that kills you, as they say.