North Stander: ‘Short of major investment, where is our club going?’

Paul Lambert watches on at Aston Villa. Picture: PAGEPIX LTD

Paul Lambert watches on at Aston Villa. Picture: PAGEPIX LTD

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Where is our club going? The obvious immediate answer is League One – but what I’m talking about is Ipswich Town’s longer-term future, writes North Stander Terry Hunt.

Wet through: Town fans in the rain at Villa Park. Picture: PAGEPIX LTDWet through: Town fans in the rain at Villa Park. Picture: PAGEPIX LTD

The Marcus Evans interview last week gave us some insight into his thinking, but it left me worried about where the club is heading. He made it clear that he is not willing to invest more heavily, because he says that strategy is not sustainable.

He also pointed out that he did invest a lot of money when he first bought Ipswich Town, and that ‘got us nowhere,’ to use the owner’s words.

So presumably that means a continuation of the spending policy we have seen for the last few years - and look where we are. Evans seemed to be suggesting that our problems all go back to the Paul Hurst disaster, but surely it’s not as simple as that.

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Ironically, the start of our decline dates back to our time of greatest opportunity, when Evans missed the chance to make enough signings in the transfer window of January 2015.

In my view, spending good money then would have seen us promoted, and our recent history would have been transformed. Instead, we just about limped into the play-offs, where we lost to Norwich, and we’ve been on a downward spiral ever since.

McCarthy outperformed the budget, albeit with a brand of football which was driving the fans away. Hurst’s mistakes merely quickened the decline. They weren’t the root cause.

As I’ve said many times, I don’t particularly blame Evans for his spending policy. He is right to say that throwing £15 or £20 million a year at the club can’t last very long, unless it results in promotion to the Promised Land of the Premier League.

MORE: Lambert slams ref after Villa defeat

But I come back to the question: Short of major investment, where is our club going? The glimmer of hope lies with Paul Lambert. Thank goodness he is staying beyond this season.

He is talking such a lot of sense. He knows the club needs a massive rebuilding job, almost certainly from League One. We have far too many players, most of them short of the quality we need.

So this summer we will see a big clear-out by Lambert. The core of the team will be the group of promising youngsters we have. Kids can’t do it by themselves, so Lambert will need to recruit some experienced campaigners, or keep some of those he has brought to the club.

In that way, I can see some hope for the future. I think Evans’ fifth managerial appointment could well turn out to be his best. Keane, Jewell and Hurst all failed, and McCarthy outstayed his welcome after a good first two or three seasons.

But I believe Lambert could well prove to be exactly what we need to get the club out of its current mess. So, to answer my own question - the future lies in the hands of Paul Lambert.

Striker Collin Quaner appeals for hand ball at Aston Villa. Picture:  PAGEPIX LTDStriker Collin Quaner appeals for hand ball at Aston Villa. Picture: PAGEPIX LTD

The here and now continues to be miserable. However much I would love to blame referee Keith Stroud for all our woes, his hapless performance at Villa Park on Saturday isn’t the reason we’re sliding towards League One.

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Yes, he got both penalty decisions wrong, and he certainly cost us at least a point. But Stroud isn’t the reason we have only 18 points from 29 games.

Stating the ruddy obvious, we are rapidly running out of games in which to pull off what would be a footballing miracle. Yes, I know there are still plenty of points on offer, but our form isn’t improving quickly enough.

I’m amazed we’re still only seven points from safety. It just shows how poorly the bottom group of teams is performing.

In two weeks time, we have the daunting trip to Carrow Road to contend with. Given the league table, and current form, there should only be one result.

But wouldn’t it be just like us to turn logic on its head and come away with a memorable victory? At least that would give us something to savour in what is proving to be the most miserable of seasons.

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