Monday verdict: Ipswich Town must change or stagnate

Town fans leaving the stands after their side had conceded a third goal in the Ipswich Town v Brentf

Town fans leaving the stands after their side had conceded a third goal in the Ipswich Town v Brentford (Championship) match at Portman Road, Ipswich, on 09 April 2016. Picture: Steve Waller - Credit: Picture: Steve Waller

Someone wryly remarked on social networking that perhaps the Championship should be renamed ‘Ipswich and friends’.

The Blues are now almost certainly heading for a 15th successive season in the English second tier following Saturday’s 3-1 home defeat to Brentford.

Perhaps they will be presented with a crystal watch to mark the milestone anniversary? It’s very much a time for gallows humour. If Oldham are relegated from League One next month then no professional club in this country will have occupied the same division for longer than Ipswich.

Extrapolate the dismal 2016 form of Mick McCarthy’s men over the course of a campaign and they would finish anywhere between 15th and 20th.

It’s pragmatic football played by budget buys. The underdog success story was fun for a while. Now the reality of Groundhog Day has set in again.

Town’s player wage bill has risen by 15% this season but the extra funds have gone on quantity not quality. A decent slice of a restrictive budget is now tied up in fringe players’ contracts. The core of this first-team are in their 30s too.

To achieve significant progress, major surgery is required. But realistically McCarthy will only be able to give his squad another facelift this summer.

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He’s paid handsomely to utilise his man-management skills, but it still must be frustrating. The Blues boss has tried to find significant upgrades – he had bids in for players in both the previous transfer windows – but is always trumped by rivals.

It’s easy to spend other peoples’ money, of course. And there’s no doubting that owner Marcus Evans already puts millions in every year. It’s just hard to see the logic.

At the moment it’s a slow bleed of cash with seemingly no prospect of a return on his investments. While he waits for lightening to strike, this club will continue to tread water.

To go back to the ‘Ipswich and friends’ analogy, it feels like the Blues have stayed in their hometown while all their mates have flown the nest to travel or climb a career ladder in more exotic surroundings.

Sure, there have been mixed success stories. Some are still living the dream, for others it went badly wrong. At least they all gave it a go though. We’ve just had to watch their journeys through Facebook.

Many crave such security and stability and would swap places in a heartbeat. The ‘look where Ipswich were four years ago’ argument isn’t relevant anymore though. It’s an excuse.

Times change and Ipswich Town needs to change. If they don’t, they’ll stagnate.

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