Fuller Flavour: ‘We seem too happy at times to just exist, with no apparent ambition’

Ipswich Town manager Paul Lambert made his disdain for the EFL Trophy clear - but Karl Fuller feels

Ipswich Town manager Paul Lambert made his disdain for the EFL Trophy clear - but Karl Fuller feels that the club is letting fans down Picture: ROSS HALLS - Credit: Archant

In his latest Ipswich Town column, Karl Fuller laments the club’s attitude towards cup and trophy competitions, at a time when many fans are struggling to pay for season tickets...

Portsmouth knocked Town out of the FA Cup in controversial fashion Picture: STEVE WALLER

Portsmouth knocked Town out of the FA Cup in controversial fashion Picture: STEVE WALLER - Credit: Picture: Steve Waller

It was maybe a good thing not to have had a game on Saturday. We have already reached the stage of the season where apathy has swarmed the minds of many supporters as once again, we have bowed out of all cup competitions.

This time, in less than 10 weeks since the start of the season and I really hope that we can now ‘concentrate on the league’ as there is naff all else to worry about.

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In isolation, a team of kids losing to Crawley Town’s reserves is nothing to get too upset about, but our attitude to cup competitions really stinks. If a table of all 92 professional clubs was created, looking at the number of wins from the last 19 FA Cup ties that each has played, Town would be rock bottom in 92nd place.

During the Marcus Evans tenure, we’ve played 50 FA and League Cup ties and won just 16 of them. And I know some will not be overly bothered, but finishing bottom of an EFL Trophy group containing Arsenal’s Under 21’s, Gillingham and Crawley is embarrassing, no matter what you think of the competition.

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I have friends that are struggling for money. They’ve been made redundant or are self-employed or retired and these difficult times that we live in currently are making it hard for them to make ends meet.

They are season ticket holders and love our club dearly and have done so for decades. But they are questioning as to whether they really can afford to keep paying for their season tickets, especially as they cannot attend games.

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I understand this. Having been made redundant at the end of August, I had to look at what finances I could cut back on and I was very close to cancelling my ticket. Then the club pull on our heartstrings. They state that they need our money through sales of season tickets with little other means of getting any money in.

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I wholeheartedly understand this of course and commend every single season ticket holder for ‘doing their bit’ to meet these demands.

But then you have to question the clubs’ attitude to cup competitions at not giving ourselves the very best opportunity of fighting for every bit of prize money available. And it is made even worse when we are happy to break rules and accept fines.

For doing so against both Gillingham and Crawley, this cost us £10k in fines. I don’t know how many season tickets that would equate to, let’s say for arguments sake that it would be 25.

If this number of fans were to state that they’ve had enough and were cancelling their season tickets, they would be vilified by a section of supporters for giving up on the club. So is it ok for the club to give up on themselves when they see fit to, i.e. in cup competitions?

I’m a firm believer that winning breeds confidence and a positive culture, not just throughout whichever XI are selected, but through the club, a club that includes its supporters and the communities it serves.

We seem too happy at times to just exist, with no apparent ambition. No respect for three-quarters of the competitions we enter and with a lack of duty to us supporters to give us the best times and try to match our hopes with any signal of real intent.

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The whole chopping and changing of so many players for cup competitions is another gripe of mine. I look back to our great 1980/81 season. We played 66 games – Russell Osman played in them all.

You can say football is different these days, but the physical demand on the players is no different. Think about the travelling we did all over Europe in those days. There were no blank weekends for international duties and could only use one substitute in games.

And rather than taking a summer off to recharge before finishing second in the old first division again in 1981/82, seven of our squad took five weeks out of their summer holidays to take part in filming for Escape to Victory!

I look forward to seeing how the season develops now we have just the one competition to concentrate on.

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