North Stander: If football was a ‘normal’ business... Lambert should have no future at Ipswich Town
- Credit: Picture: Steve Waller
North Stander Terry Hunt looks back on another depressing afternoon in the fortunes of Ipswich Town
These are undoubtedly the darkest, bleakest times I have known in my 52 years of supporting Ipswich Town.
Of course, during that time there have been many ups and downs.
We had the glorious years under Bobby Robson, and the fantastic Wembley victory 20 years ago, as well as relegations, cup semi-final defeats, and heartbreak in the play-offs - but nothing comes remotely close to the utter awfulness of our current situation.
As it stands, we are nothing more than a bang average third division team, destined to finish in the middle of an absolutely terrible league which will be won by a team almost completely devoid of talent, whether that be Coventry, Rotherham, Oxford or one of the other front-runners.
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What those clubs have achieved - where we have so palpably failed - is to create a TEAM. Players who know their jobs, know what their team-mates' roles are, and deliver week in, week out. Most importantly, there is a consistency in their team selection, and in their formation.
By contrast, we're now back to what some fans describe as the "Lambert Lottery," with half a dozen changes each game.
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I know he's been hampered by injuries and suspensions recently, but that wasn't the case earlier in the season.
Mick Mills, who certainly knows what he's talking about, is highly critical of Lambert's so-called "rotation policy." He says all you end up with is a bunch of "lukewarm" players with no real motivation, because they know their turn will inevitably come.
If Lambert's thinking was to protect players from injury, well, that hasn't worked has it?
James Norwood hasn't looked properly fit for months, and I'm beginning to fear that we won't see Kane Vincent-Young again this season.
All of the above reflects very badly on the manager. I believe he has had a poor, poor season. With our squad, and wage bill, we should have made the play-offs, at the very least.
Instead, our form has been that of a team fighting relegation. Thank goodness for that flying start!
The time to judge Lambert will be the end of the season, and that's looming now. Many fans I speak to believe very strongly that he should go. If football was a "normal" business, in which hugely-paid executives are assessed on their performance, then Lambert should have no future at Ipswich Town.
But this is not a normal business, this is football.
And this is Ipswich Town.
Marcus Evans tends to keep faith with his managers. Which other owner would have given Lambert a new five-year contract, given his team's performances?
We'll see what happens in May.
By the way, I don't think the five-year deal will be a major obstacle to getting rid of Lambert, if that's what Evans decides to do. There will surely be "exit clauses" written in which assess Lambert's performance at certain points, including the end of this season. Failure to hit agreed targets will mean a cheaper departure.
Of our many current problems, our lack of goals is the most glaring.
Of course, Lambert points out the unfortunate absence of Norwood and Kayden Jackson, our top scorers. Will Keane is now also injured. Again. Rotation policy worked well there!
This leaves us relying on Freddie Sears and an assortment of non-strikers like Alan Judge and Teddy Bishop, and kids, such as Armando Dobra and Tyreece Simpson.
>, hang on a minute - we're not talking about netball here. Any of the players in the team are allowed to score. Where are the goals from midfield, where are the goals from our centre-halves at set-pieces? The lack of available strikers is only a partial excuse.
We just don't create chances.
As I said earlier, it's the bleakest time I can recall as a Town fan. Even the supporters have started arguing among themselves. Some feel that the lack of widespread booing after the Coventry defeat sends a message that we accept defeat. We should let Lambert and Evans know how unhappy we are, they say.
I understand the argument, but I'm pretty certain they already know how the fans are feeling. What does booing really achieve anyway?
I'm off to look for the light at the end of a long, dark tunnel.
There's certainly no sign of it at the moment.