Monday verdict: Respect works both ways – Mick McCarthy is losing the backing of some of his most ardent sympathisers
- Credit: Picture: Steve Waller
No goals, no entertainment and seemingly no light at the end of the tunnel. Ipswich Town’s famously patient fans are reaching the end of their tether.
There are clubs with a similar glorious history whose supporter base seems to carry delusions of grandeur and a sense of entitlement. That’s not the case at Portman Road. So when the atmosphere turned sour during and after Saturday’s 1-0 loss to Huddersfield you know things have got bad.
A late shot on target was greeted by ironic cheers. The full-time whistle sparked boos and chants of “what a load of rubbish”.
Worryingly, as falling attendances show, plenty more have simply quietly turned their backs and walked away in a state of apathy. Fifteen years in the Championship and going nowhere fast. Everything about the club feels soporific and stale.
Just three goals have been scored from open play in more than 1,000 minutes of action, while Town have failed to score a first half goal in 29 of their 35 games this calender year. The latter statistic perfectly sums up Mick McCarthy’s safety-first approach. The shackles are never loosened, let alone removed.
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A lack of transfer budget and key injuries at key times means the Yorkshireman has undoubtedly been fighting with one hand behind his back most of the time, but many of his actions and words are beginning to lose the sympathy of his most ardent backers.
Saturday’s post-match comment of “I’m not going to sit here and justify my team selection” was, at best, stubborn, and, at worst, arrogant.
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McCarthy bristles at criticism. He feels his past CV and the way he saved Ipswich from relegation before guiding them to their first play-off place in a decade deserves respect. He’s right, but respect works both ways.
Supporters feel they are being treated like idiots when superlatives are attributed to solid but unspectacular performers. They want more of an explanation on undroppable players, negative tactics and square pegs in round holes. Instead questions on the above are met with barely concealed disdain.
This is not an over-reaction to a tough patch. Ipswich have been taking more steps backwards than forwards for at least 18 months now. Realists know it’s not a level playing field in this division, but clubs like Bristol City, Huddersfield and Barnsley are showing more signs of progression and they don’t have vast resources.
Is McCarthy really getting the best out of what he’s got? Is it false hope to expect the injury-prone Jonny Williams and David McGoldrick to be the saviours? One thing’s for sure, we now have two weeks to dwell on all the above.
– More comment and analysis in today’s EADT and Ipswich Star.