‘We need four or five new arrivals to make a difference’ - North Stander Terry Hunt on Town’s plight
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Over the festive season, several people have asked me whether I will still support Ipswich if they are relegated, writes North Stander Terry Hunt.
To be honest, the question displays a lack of understanding of what being a football fan is all about. You don’t just ditch your team because they’re having a bad time – although sometimes you wish you could!
I started following Ipswich in 1968, as Bill McGarry was leading the team to the Second Division title. Since then, there have been plenty of highs and lows. Our current plight is the worst I have known, but there will never come a time when I no longer support the team.
So, if as seems increasingly likely, we are playing third tier football next season for the first time since 1957, then I will certainly take my place in the Sir Bobby Robson stand.
I’d like to think the vast majority of this year’s regular fans will be with me. The club certainly has a loyal core of support – as can be seen from the number who made the long trip to Middlesbrough on Saturday.
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Mind you, it is a very trying time for true blue loyalists at the moment, and that’s putting it mildly. I said last week there is a glimmer of hope that we’ll escape relegation. After damaging defeats at QPR and Boro, that chink of light is getting more and more difficult to see.
Realistically, we now need to get one and a half points from each game to stand a chance of getting out of this almighty mess. That’s basically a win every other game. For a team which has managed only two victories in 25 matches so far this season, that would represent a remarkable turnaround.
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Of course, the much-anticipated transfer window opens on January 1. People are talking about this date as hopefully being the cure for all our troubles. Paul Lambert constantly refers to the team “needing help.” That’s pretty obvious!
But, realistically, what kind of player will we get? Premier League kids on loan? Veterans who are surplus to requirements at their clubs? I have to say, neither really gets my blood racing.
Our problem is, well, we have so many problems. Two suspect keepers, the worst defence in the division, a chronic lack of creativity in midfield, and very little threat up front. A recipe for relegation, in other words.
So, where does Lambert start? It sounds like we’re bringing in at least one full-back on loan, and surely a big target man has to be a priority?
But I think we need four or five new arrivals to make a difference, and I’m talking about regular starters, not squad players. That seems a lot to expect, but let’s hope Lambert can pull it off. He obviously has good contacts in the game.
We need to see the new faces quickly. We’re facing two huge home games against Millwall and Rotherham and we really need to win them both if our faint hopes are to stay alive.
I mentioned the goalkeeping situation. Bart was dropped because of mistakes, and now Gerken has made two costly errors in consecutive games. In my view, Bart is the better keeper, and should be given the chance to rebuild what looks to be shattered confidence. Mind you, who would want to play behind our defence?
So, desperate times. As we’re pretty much all saying, Marcus Evans needs to spend a significant amount of money in January to give our bedraggled, shellshocked squad a much-needed boost.
Will that happen? Is it already too late? Those questions will be answered in the coming days and weeks. By the end of January, our fate could be sealed...or not. As they say, it’s the hope that kills you.
Next Saturday, we have a distraction from our Championship struggles, when we play Accrington Stanley in the FA Cup third round.
What used to be an annual highlight has become a yearly embarrassment for Town fans, with our utterly appalling recent record.
Some will say next Saturday’s game doesn’t matter. I disagree. We need wins, in whichever competition. Wins bring confidence. On the other hand, being on the wrong end of a giant killing would be another big blow to players desperately short of confidence.