North Stander: If only he’d hoofed that ball... But I’d stick with Chambers
- Credit: Picture: Steve Waller
Ipswich fan TERRY HUNT reflects on what should have been a perfect start for Town. And what to do with skipper Luke Chambers
If Luke Chambers had hoofed that ball into Row Z, we would now be celebrating a perfect start to our bid to escape from League One at the first attempt.
We would have six points, two clean sheets, and wins over two of our likely promotion rivals. The bumper Portman Road crowd would have gone home delighted, and I suspect the majority would have returned for the next home game, convinced of the team's promotion credentials.
Sadly, as we all know, Chambers forgot one of the most basic rules of defending - if in doubt, boot it out - and allowed Sunderland to snatch an equaliser with their only shot on target.
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The saddest part of all was that our skipper's "terrible" mistake - Paul Lambert's description - has re-opened the debate about whether he deserves his place in the team.
The argument goes that he's too old and increasingly prone to making mistakes, like the gaffe against Sunderland. Yes, say his critics, he's a great guy, a terrific leader, and a powerful and positive influence around the club, but he can't really play any more.
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Well, I would agree with quite a lot of that, but here's the question: Where do we find someone better? Don't forget, we're playing in League One. Centre-backs at our level are not like the Harry Maguires of the footballing world. They're in the third division because they are limited players, and they make mistakes - just like Luke Chambers. So I would stick with him, unless he becomes a total and utter liability, of course.
Overall, it's a good start to the season. A lot to be encouraged about. We're playing some decent stuff, although I'm not too sure I would agree with Paul Lambert's description of our style as "Rock and roll football."
But it's certainly attractive to watch when it works, as it did in the first half against Sunderland. And, we're in the top six, which is where we need to stay.
For me, the most exciting aspect of the first home game was the size of the crowd. For more than 24,000 to turn out for a League One game is simply sensational.
It's a huge boost for our players and very intimidating for visiting teams who are often used to playing in front of only a few thousand.
It's also important financially for the club, bringing in much-needed extra revenue. So we need to do everything in our power to keep those fans coming back. Playing winning, attractive football is the obvious answer. A cup run would be nice too!
Talking about money, we were given a rare insight into the thoughts of the owner last week. It wasn't particularly what we wanted to hear, but at least he left us in no doubt as to the situation.
We now know we won't be spending our way back into the Championship. We will be relying on free transfers or bargain basement buys, and our own kids. In a slightly bizarre way, that's quite exciting. I suppose it engenders a kind of siege mentality - we're all in this together.
That feeling of solidarity between team and supporters is the miracle which Lambert has achieved, after the divisive and increasingly toxic last couple of years under Mick McCarthy. What Lambert has helped to create can be a very powerful force.
It's also true to say that, despite the budgetary limitations, Lambert still has a very strong League One squad available to him.
As a I mentioned earlier, a cup run would be really good. It simply wasn't on the agenda in the ultra-pragmatic McCarthy years, robbing fans of excitement away from the humdrum of the league.
Last year, you might remember our League Cup defeat at Exeter saw Paul Hurst go off on one after the game. With the benefit of hindsight, that's what the cracks began to show.
I know cups certainly aren't our priority, but they do add interest and potential excitement with the prospect of playing Premier League opposition in later rounds. So, is it too much to ask for a good display at Luton tomorrow evening?
Finally, a word about a former favourite. It was great seeing David McGoldrick on Match of the Day, playing in the Premier League for Sheffield United. It's the right platform for his talent, and shows that, even in the battle-hardened, often cynical world of professional football, dreams can sometimes come true.