North Stander: We'd all love a miracle, but this is going to take time

Luke Woolfenden attacks a corner at Bolton

Luke Woolfenden attacks a corner at Bolton - Credit: Pagepix

Journalist and Ipswich Town fan Terry Hunt shares his views on the Blues after Kieran McKenna's first defeat as boss at Bolton...

It hasn’t taken very long for Kieran McKenna to witness the maddening inconsistency of this Ipswich Town side. Sublime one week, very ordinary the next.

After the superb performance against Gillingham, expectations were high. Bolton were on a terrible run, and all the momentum was with us. Surely a third win on the bounce was there for the taking?

Sadly, that isn’t how Ipswich do things. The display was a million miles short of what we loved so much at Gillingham. And the crucial goals came from clangers by two of our best, most consistent players. How Ipswich is that?

Ipswich players appeal to the referee after Kieran Lee had put the home side ahead at Bolton Wandere

Ipswich players appeal to the referee after Kieran Lee had put the home side ahead at Bolton Wanderers. - Credit: Pagepix Ltd

Paul Cook said the only consistent thing about this team was its inconsistency. He was right, and no new manager will be able to end that overnight.

That Achilles heel is why we are stuck in the middle of this low quality division. Look at our record – won nine, drawn eight, lost nine. It tells you all you need to know. Inconsistent, Jekyll and Hyde, call it what you will. It’s very frustrating.

The most irritating aspect of it is that, at our very best, we are capable of playing sublime football which no team in League One is capable of living with. 

We’ve witnessed it in fits and starts, most memorably away at Portsmouth, Wycombe and Gillingham. But then we come crashing down.

Ipswich goalkeeper Christian Walton is disappointed at Bolton Wanderers.

Ipswich goalkeeper Christian Walton is disappointed at Bolton Wanderers. - Credit: Pagepix Ltd

Why? Do the players get complacent? Do they believe their own headlines? Whatever it is, McKenna knows he has to sort it, and I’m sure he will.

I mentioned the goals we conceded at Bolton. They were both gift-wrapped for the opposition, the first courtesy of Christian Walton, and the second from a horror moment from George Edmundson, who would currently get my vote as player of the season.

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Those errors were incredibly uncharacteristic of both players, who have been among our best performers. But individual mistakes have been a curse all season.

It will be interesting to see how the Walton situation plays out. All Town supporters will be keeping their fingers crossed that we can keep him, at least until the end of the season.

He is undoubtedly a top keeper at this level, and is capable of playing in the Championship at least. If he does go, McKenna will have to go out into the transfer market. Neither of our other two keepers are good enough for a team with promotion ambitions.

Kieran McKenna at Bolton Wanderers.

Kieran McKenna at Bolton Wanderers. - Credit: Pagepix Ltd

There is one slightly odd positive to be drawn from our lacklustre performance at Bolton. At least our new manager has seen our problems first hand. He is under no illusions about the weaknesses now.

He will be assessing where the squad needs strengthening to become genuine promotion contenders, which sadly they are some way short of at the moment.

All sensible Town fans recognise it won’t happen overnight. The problems we have are too long in the tooth. A few good training sessions at Playford Road won’t create an overnight miracle, however much we would love it to.

Kieran McKenna will already have a good idea of what he wants to do, what needs to change. We will find out in the next couple of weeks whether that will involve some signings in the current January window.

The new boss doesn’t strike me as the kind of person who will make knee-jerk, emotional decisions. Everything will be carefully considered, and that has to be the right way to go.

So, what about the here and now? What about the play-offs? Mathematically, they are obviously still achievable. But to get into that top six, our form needs to be transformed. We would need to go on a winning run which we certainly haven’t managed this season, or indeed for several years.

It would require a burst of something like five wins in a row and, as we all know, we currently find it impossible to string together three victories.

It might happen, but at the moment it seems highly unlikely. I would love to be proved wrong, but I don’t think I will be.