It’s vital to put off-field issues aside and back Ipswich Town’s players until we’re safe
It’s been one of Ipswich Town’s worst seasons for 60 years, and relegation to League One remains a threat, writes editor-in-chief and life-long Ipswich fan Terry Hunt.
Supporters are unhappy with the style of play, a lack of investment, and season ticket prices going up. But, with two crucial home games looming, it’s more important than ever to get behind the team.
I know many people are justifiably unhappy with the situation at Portman Road. The football has been dull, the manager’s tactics, and comments, have distanced him from the fans, lots of supporters feel the owner doesn’t invest enough and, on top of it all, season ticket prices are going up.
In 50 seasons of supporting the team, I’ve never known more disenchantment among the fans. Let’s face it, we’re normally a pretty patient bunch!
But, despite all of the above, there has never been a time when it’s been more important for us, the blue and white army, to get behind the team. We have two huge home games coming up, against Birmingham and Wigan. Two wins, and relegation will no longer be a concern. Anything less than four points, though, and we’ll still be worrying.
We arrive at these games in pretty poor form, short on confidence and with two key players – Tom Lawrence and David McGoldrick – likely to be missing through injury. With so many fans feeling disgruntled, there’s a danger of a perfect storm brewing.
If Saturday doesn’t go to plan, and especially if Birmingham go ahead, there’s a risk of the atmosphere turning poisonous, and that really is the last thing the players need.
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That’s why it’s crucial all of us who really love our football club leave of our off-field issues at the turnstiles, and get behind the players.
If the team starts struggling or – heaven forbid – losing, then we need to cheer even louder. There is no point in turning on players.
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Booing and jeering, or calling for the manager’s head, or for the owner to go, will achieve absolutely nothing. It can only have a negative impact.
Let’s be clear about this – relegation to League One would be a disaster. Don’t listen to those misguided people who try to tell you that it might be a blessing in disguise. Look at Norwich, and Southampton, they say.
I would counter that by using the examples of Sheffield United, now in their sixth season in the old third division. Even mighty Leeds spent three years down there.
How excited would you be by games against Rochdale, Bury, and Northampton? No disrespect to any of those clubs, but they have spent the vast majority of their time playing in the lower leagues.
Ipswich haven’t been in the third division since May 1957, when I was only a few weeks old. I’ve just celebrated my 60th birthday. Yes, it’s that long ago – way beyond the memories of the majority of supporters.
In League One, crowds would inevitably dwindle even further, TV cash would drop, and we would become a smaller club financially.
Whatever you think of club owner Marcus Evans’ investment policy now, the finances would certainly become even tighter if the unthinkable happened and we went down.
It’s crucial we win these next two games, and the fans can play a part in making that happen.
So, whatever you think of how our club is being run at the moment, whatever you think of Mick McCarthy’s tactics, and his often frankly daft utterances after games, whether you’re renewing your season ticket or not, please get along to Portman Road on Saturday afternoon and Tuesday evening, and cheer the boys on. If it starts going badly, then cheer even louder.
Let’s make sure we stay in the Championship, and then the inquests can start on what’s gone so badly wrong this season.