North Stander: The ITFC blame game – but where on earth do you start?
PUBLISHED: 06:00 02 March 2020
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Another game, another defeat, North Stander TERRY HUNT looks at who is to blame for Town’s sad demise
Let's play the blame game - hours of guaranteed fun for the whole family.
Specifically, we can decide who should carry the can for Ipswich Town's shocking decline from Pride of Anglia to humdrum third division side.
The candidates are as follows: Club chairman and owner Marcus Evans, manager Paul Lambert, the whole first-team squad, and - most controversially - us, the loyal Blue and White Army.
Shall we start with Marcus Evans?
The evidence is pretty compelling. In late 2007, he bought a club with genuine aspirations of making the Championship play-offs. Now, 12 and a bit years later, we are exactly one division lower and, on current form, heading in the wrong direction.
In that time, we've had one play-off. The rest has been pretty grim fare, especially the last few seasons as firstly Mick McCarthy's side hung on in the Championship, and then Paul Hurst and Paul Lambert saw us tumble into the third tier for the first time in more than 60 years.
It's been a dreadful 12 years. Evans has appointed five managers - Keane, Jewell, McCarthy, Hurst, and Lambert. Of those, only McCarthy can look at his time here with any sense of satisfaction. The rest have failed. Evans' decisions, Evans' responsibility.
As for the money, yes, we know Evans has underwritten the debt to the tune of several millions each year. Without that, there wouldn't be an Ipswich Town Football Club.
But the investment hasn't been enough.
I entirely understand Evans' reluctance to throw money at the problem after his experience with Keane, who bought badly.
But we have missed opportunities to invest wisely, and modestly, at crucial times. Most notoriously in early 2015 when automatic promotion could have been a real possibility and again, arguably, this January.
The result of his financial policy has been a long, slow decline to our current appalling situation.
Of course, Evans has been let down by most of his managers - including the current incumbent, Mr Lambert. At the start of this season, I said that if we were not promoted it would represent a major failure on behalf of Lambert.
I still believe that.
The strength of our squad should have seen us in the top two. No doubt about it. But, after a flying start, Lambert has messed up. All those ridiculous postponements in the autumn, and the ludicrous rotation policy. They destroyed the confidence and momentum.
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Lambert did a great PR job when he first came in, saying positive things about the fans, applauding the North Stand after home games, and buying beers in the FanZone. All a welcome relief from the toxic end of the McCarthy era. The size of our crowds is partly a result of that.
But the real business happens on the pitch, and that's where Lambert has been found wanting. After a great start, our form has been atrocious. Lambert has to take responsibility for that. Quite why Evans has given him a five-year contract, I cannot imagine.
What about the players?
They look shot to pieces, to be honest. Every game seems to follow the same pattern. We dominate possession, miss chances, concede bad goals, lose games.
Saturday at Blackpool was another shocking example. Don't forget, this is Blackpool we are talking about. A very ordinary League One side. As usual, we had most of the ball, then managed to concede a comedy goal with two of our players tackling each other on the edge of the box.
We levelled it up, and Freddie Sears had a chance to win it late on when through one-on-one with the keeper. He messed it up, of course - as all of our strikers seem to do when through on the keeper.
A few seconds later, two of our defenders failed to stop a cross and their striker was left with the freedom of the penalty area to score the winner. To call it schoolboy stuff would be insulting to schoolboys.
These are highly-paid professionals whose job it is to play football.
They spend hours training, perfecting their skills. But, for whatever reason, they are seriously under-performing at the moment. By about half a division.
So, we've decided the owner is to blame, the manager is to blame, and the players are to blame. Good game this, isn't it? What about us, the fans - should we shoulder some of the blame?
Don't shoot the messenger, but there is a school of thought which says we are "too nice," "too forgiving", and have somehow helped to create a culture where failure is acceptable.
Critics point to the way we reacted to relegation - turning out in our thousands and applauding Paul Lambert as his inherited squad plummeted to relegation. We should have been angrier, they say, we should have staged protests, we should have boycotted games, not bought season tickets. Let Marcus Evans know exactly what we thought of him.
I understand the argument. But I don't agree.
The fans are just about the only good thing about the club. Their loyalty and passion is immense. Make no mistake, they ARE angry. Very angry. But they don't shout and scream - it's not their way.
After this season, a few thousand will drift silently and sadly away, continuing the decline of our once-great club.
Blame whoever you like - Evans, Lambert, the players - but never, ever the fans.
They ARE the club.