North Stander: No room for sentimentality as much-needed Town shake-up begins

Town manager Paul Cook animated on the touchline.

Paul Cook is meeting players today to tell them if the have a future at Ipswich Town - Credit: Steve Waller-www.stephenwaller.c

Ipswich Town fan and journalist Terry Hunt shares his final thoughts on the Blues in his last column of the season...

Goodbye and good riddance to the 2020-21 season, and a very warm welcome to an exciting new era at Ipswich Town Football Club.

This week we will see the beginning of the transformation our club so badly needs, with the departure of unwanted players.

Apparently Paul Cook would be happy to see the vast majority of the first-team squad head for the exit, and most supporters feel the same way.

Luke Chambers in an embrace with Cole Skuse after the final whistle.

Luke Chambers and Cole Skuse are both expected to be released - Credit: Steve Waller-www.stephenwaller.c

For me, the departures should include the veteran pair Luke Chambers and Cole Skuse. 

Both have been excellent servants to the club, and they’re good guys, but the harsh reality is they have no part to play in our recovery. 

No room for sentimentality in football. Maybe a couple of seasons as senior professionals at Colchester to end their distinguished careers?

So, by the end of this week, we will have waved goodbye to several of what Kieron Dyer described as our “fragile” squad.

The more exciting question, of course, is who will Cook recruit?

We need a big influx of new players, not only with the right footballing skills, but also with strong characters. We need a winning mentality, and a never-say-die spirit. We certainly don’t need fragile!

I was interested to see Martyn Waghorn being linked with a return to Portman Road. I have no idea if there’s any basis to the speculation, but I would certainly welcome a player like Waghorn.

He’s a decent Championship striker and, just as importantly, he comes across as someone who plays an important leadership role in the dressing room. Just what we need.

I see some supporters are saying they wouldn’t want him back because he seemed too keen to leave Ipswich. But let’s get real here. Who wouldn’t move to a new job for what at the time seemed to be better prospects and, no doubt, a bigger salary?

It will be fascinating to see level of player we can attract. We are, after all, a mid-table League One club. Not desperately enticing at face value.

Stephen Ward.

Stephen Ward has already been told he will be leaving - Credit: Steve Waller-www.stephenwaller.c

Paul Cook will need to be persuasive in attracting would-be recruits, many of whom I suspect will be dropping down from the Championship.

We know our new American owners are not short of a bob or two, but the club will need to operate within the Financial Fair Play framework.

Surely the answer there is a smaller, but better rewarded first team squad so we can attract better players.

For the last couple of years we’ve had a ludicrously big squad - big on numbers but desperately short on quality.

The next big arrival at the club will be the new chief executive, Mark Ashton, from Bristol City.

As I’ve said before, I do wonder about his working relationship with Paul Cook.

Mark Ashton

Mark Ashton will become Ipswich Town's new CEO at the end of this season. Photo: PA - Credit: Archant

Everyone tells me that Ashton is very hands-on when it comes to player recruitment. How will that go down with the manager? We shall see.

I really hope it’s not an issue, because I do believe we have a very good manager in Cook. He has a clear vision of what he wants and obviously knows his way round the footballing world.

We, the long-suffering fans, have a big part to play in what we all hope will be the renaissance of our football club after a very long, frustrating period of decline.

I really hope the season ticket campaign goes brilliantly. I am so looking forward to taking my seat in the upper tier of the Sir Bobby Robson Stand for the first home game of next season, and enjoying the view of a buzzing, busy stadium. 

Wouldn’t it be great to have crowds of 20,000 plus, cheering on our new-look team, and creating a fortress-like atmosphere?

It’s been so long since that was the case, and it’s really important that we recapture that missing element. It can make a huge difference.

The big announcement in the last few days was the identity of our new sponsor - Suffolk’s very own singing superstar Ed Sheeran.

That was brilliant news. It even saw Ipswich Town getting mentioned in the national newspapers, for the first time in ages!

I’m sure the link with Ed will bring more than just a financial arrangement. I can see all sorts of other benefits.

Maybe a concert at the stadium in the not-too-distant future? Thanks, Ed, and welcome aboard.

So, exciting times. The next few weeks and months will be absolutely fascinating - and it all starts now! 

Enjoy your summer, and (fingers crossed) see you at Portman Road in August.