North Stander: 'There seems to be a collective lack of belief'
- Credit: Steve Waller - www.stephenwaller
North Stander TERRY HUNT, like most Town fans, is not impressed with the start to Ipswich Town's League One season. And he asks, why such a lack of belief?
The first month of the season has flown by and it hasn’t been what we all wanted. Let’s look at the negatives before focusing on the positives. Believe it or not, there are some!
Given the level of excitement and anticipation, it has been a desperately disappointing start to the campaign. There’s no getting away from that.
For goodness sake, we’re in the League One relegation zone with no wins from our first five games. That’s a million miles away from where we expected Town to be.
We’ve conceded two goals in each of those matches. We have the worst defensive record in League One, which is pretty damning given the lack of quality in what I still refer to as Division Three.
For all the sweeping changes introduced by Cook, Ashton, and our American owners, there still seems to be a mental fragility about the team. Having gone two up against Wimbledon, we should have seen the game out. It might not have been pretty, but who cares? We need that first win.
Instead, within a few minutes of finally getting ourselves a two-goal cushion, we conceded from a set-piece and the nerves started jangling. The crowd were nervous, the players looked jittery, we simply stopped playing football, and the equaliser was always going to come.
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There seems to be a collective lack of belief. It’s understandable that the fans feel that way after nearly 20 years of disappointments.
But what about the players? The argument with the previous crop was that they had been so damaged by years of failure and criticism. Probably true.
But what about this lot? They’re pretty much all new to this club. When they conceded against Wimbledon, why didn’t they just roll their sleeves up and play on the front foot, looking for a third goal, which would have sealed the points? That’s a mystery to me.
Our defending against set-pieces and long throws - a weapon of choice in this league - is worryingly poor. We eagerly await the introduction of George Edmundson. Let’s hope he really is the answer.
The goalkeeper has had a dreadful start to his Portman Road career, and doesn’t deserve his place. Either Holy should play the next game, or maybe we’ll see another keeper arrive before the transfer window closes. The truth is we’ve never adequately replaced Bart.
Among the fans, there is increased chatter about the manager. His record is being compared with Jackie Milburn, who is widely recognised at our worst boss. Lovely man, dreadful manager, is the usual description.
There are suggestions that Paul Cook is struggling because he lacks a battle-hardened right-hand man, and that his coaching team doesn’t have enough experience. Maybe that’s true, but calls for Cook’s head at this stage are simply nonsense.
I’ve always said we should wait until October before coming to any kind of reasonable assessment of this squad, and therefore on Cook’s performance.
As we all know, there is a powerful lesson in patience from our club’s past. Bobby Robson had a very tough first few years at Ipswich. The team looked like it was going nowhere.
Remember, the infamous night on September 7, 1971 when Town fans called for Robson to be sacked after a George Best-inspired Man Utd tore us apart came more than two and a half years after Robson arrived at Ipswich.
Most chairmen would have pulled the trigger, but John Cobbold simply apologised to his young manager for the fans’ behaviour and gave him the funds to buy Allan Hunter, a vital building block for our future success. The rest, as they say, is history.
Yes, it was a different era, and a different division - Ipswich were in the top flight - but we can still learn lessons from those transformational events which happened almost exactly half a century ago. Patience is a virtue being the main one.
Oh yes - the positives. We are, at times, playing exciting, enterprising football. When was the last time we saw a goal as good as our second against Wimbledon? Those dreadful days of sarcastic chanting “We’ve had a shot” deep into the second half of games have gone, thankfully.
The other big positive is that the fans are back. More than 19,000 at Portman Road on Saturday, after what has been a very disappointing start. Amazing loyalty. Every single one of them desperate for success
I still believe it will come. Yes, it’s very frustrating at the moment, but we need to keep the faith and be patient and calm. Just like eccentric genius “Mr. John” Cobbold 50 years ago.