North Stander: 'We will have to be realistic and we might well need patience'
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It’s time to be positive.
After years of disappointment, frustration and anger for Ipswich Town supporters, there is finally a bright, shining light at the end of what has been a very long, dark tunnel.
I’m sure that, like me, all Town fans are totally fed up with Ipswich being “Britain’s most miserable football club,” as it was so accurately described by BBC Radio Suffolk commentator Brenner Woolley.
It’s been six grim years since we’ve had anything to be happy about. Yes, the 2014-15 play-off season seems an eternity ago.
I remember writing at the end of that campaign: “We have our football club back.”
That’s how it felt. Of course we were all disappointed to lose in the play-off semi to our deadliest rivals, but we’d had a great season. The reconnection between club and fans was exemplified by the way Tommy Smith sprinted 100 yards to celebrate with the Town supporters after scoring at Carrow Road.
All we had to do was build on that, but Marcus Evans and Mick McCarthy missed a golden opportunity. Instead, we’ve suffered six years of decline, with the team plumbing depths which were previously beyond our deepest, darkest imagination.
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The club and its loyal supporters have drifted apart, and the relationship has become increasingly toxic. It’s been incredibly sad for a club which had previously been renowned for its proud place in the community.
But now, we have a bright new dawn, and the promise of an exciting new era. It’s time to draw a line under the past and look to what we all hope will be an exciting future for the club we love.
Our new American owners have plenty of money, a burning ambition for the club to be successful, and - thankfully - are prepared to talk directly with the supporters. That’s so important, and was a yawning gap during the Evans era.
Of course, it’s been easy for them so far. They have been able to talk positively about the future, with absolutely no pressure on them. In a week’s time, when this dreadful season finally ends, it will be time for the changes to start.
Paul Cook knows what’s needed on the playing front. He’s talked about being “Demolition man” and “out with the old and in with the new.” He has made it very clear that he’s not impressed with many of his current players.
We know there will be a lot of departures, but Cook also knows it’s a more intricate and tricky process than simply getting rid of a load of players. It’s about getting the right blend of the new and the old. It’s also about introducing the right kind of characters into the club. Creating a new, successful team might take a little bit of time.
That’s where we, the supporters, have an important part to play. Let’s hope upon hope that we are allowed into Portman Road from the beginning of next season, and that the ground is packed. I’m sure the season ticket campaign will go well
But we will have to be realistic and we might well need patience. Of course we all hope that Cook’s new-look team will hit the ground running and storm to the top of the table. But that may not happen immediately, and if that turns out to be the case, we will need to keep the faith.
I do believe Cook and the new regime at Portman Road will get it right. I look forward to a highly enjoyable season, watching us get promoted and our friends up the road being relegated - again - from the Premier League.
I bear Norwich no ill-will, and there is much to admire about the way their club is run. But I really do want the big local derby to be back in the fixture list for the 2022-23 season
Amid the gloom of this limbo period, there is already a big reason to be cheerful. Huge congratulations to the under-18s on reaching the semi-finals of the FA Youth Cup after a thrilling victory over Sheffield United.
The youngsters showed all the quality, passion and never-say-die spirit which their senior counterparts have been so sadly lacking. Let’s hope several of those promising teenagers can play a big part in our bright new era.
So, just one week to go before we start our new, exciting journey. Hold tight!