Comment: This really does feel like a crucial juncture for Ipswich Town
After every Saturday game I am required to write a ‘Monday verdict’ comment piece for this newspaper. Every Sunday morning I agonise over its wording and tone.
This week’s headline - ‘different season, same mistakes’ – was, perhaps in hindsight, a bit dramatic. The article was maybe a bit sharp. I stand by the pertinent points though. This really does feel like a crucial juncture.
I’d just travelled back from Bristol City. Like supporters, I was tired and frustrated. My opinion had begun to align with some of the pessimists I had long tried to reason with.
Those that have read my pieces over a concerted period of time will know I have eulogised about the club dozens and dozens of times.
Memories can be short and it shouldn’t be forgotten just how much of a mess the club was in just three-and-a-half years ago.
The progress made since then cannot be underestimated. I have commended the club for becoming stable and waxed lyrical about the group of hard-working positive personalities that represent the shirt with pride.
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At various points I have been quick to point out that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side. Many clubs would swap positions in a heartbeat.
I am not a supporter of the club, in a traditional shouting from the stands sense, but living in the county and covering every match home and away for several years now has led to me developing something of a soft spot. It would be impossible not to.
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I want the team to succeed. When they do it makes my job easier. And we sell more papers too.
So, like a critical friend, I felt it was time to raise a few concerns about the direction they are now heading.
Having worked so damn hard to shake supporters out of a decade-long state of apathy, I worry that all that good work could quickly become wasted.
I honestly believe there is only a limited window of opportunity to kick on from a solid platform. Standing still sees you go backwards in a division where everyone is desperate to do whatever it takes to reach a Premier League more lucrative than ever before.
The arguments about style of play and spending in the transfer market are more nuanced than many make out.
Disappointment at the lack of significant additions in the January transfer window is not a case of being smart in hindsight though. True, no-one could have foreseen the injuries to key players like Cole Skuse and Ryan Fraser, but Ipswich have been without creative duo Teddy Bishop and David McGoldrick for a long time now though.
It was clear that some sort of spark was needed and it wasn’t much to ask for another lower league gem, a Freddie Sears type signing, to provide a timely boost.
That’s not being disrespectful to the players at the club, who undoubtedly give everything they have, but I’m sure they would all have been thankful for a bit of help.
There are just 15 games to go and, five points adrift of the play-offs with a game in hand, Ipswich are very much still in the promotion race. Too early to write the season off, but not too early to discuss just what the future holds for the club.