Stuart Watson’s Sunday Verdict: Town hit by a brutal combo, but so was Tyson Fury...
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Ipswich Town are now seven points adrift of Championship safety following yesterday’s 2-0 defeat at Nottingham Forest. Chief football writer STUART WATSON gives his verdict.
Around 6pm on Saturday, Paul Lambert marched back down the tunnel at the City Ground and unequivocally insisted that ‘you never give up’ and that his team will ‘stay in the fight’ after another deflating afternoon.
After the body blow of Wednesday night’s 3-2 home defeat to Bristol City, there was a sense that the powers of his relentless positivity, which have undoubtedly lifted players and fans alike in recent weeks, are beginning to wane as the gap to safety grows.
An air of resignation is seemingly creeping in among supporters.
Then, a few hours later, over in the more glamorous setting of LA, Tyson Fury provided a timely reminder that sport does provide Lazarus like resurrections.
In round 12 he was floored by a brutal right hand and left hook combo. Eyes rolled into the back of his head... it looked over. Then, at the count of six, he sprung up off the canvas. The end result was a split-decision draw.
Ipswich have to keep on fighting as others write them off.
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Lambert spoke last week about fans being able to see the light following some much-improved performances under his stewardship.
A train coming in the other direction or the club heading towards the pearly gates perhaps? An online ‘Great Escape’ campaign which mocked up Lambert as Steve McQueen overlooked the fact that his character is ultimately captured after that iconic bike jump.
We’re in dark humour territory now. You either laugh or cry.
‘We’re getting better’, insisted the Blues boss after Saturday’s comfortable defeat. He’s right. But will those improvements happen quick enough?
January is unlikely to be the silver bullet many are making it out to be. It’s not an easy month to do business. And there is no guarantees Marcus Evans will make significant investment if he feels the damage is done.
Additions are more likely to happen on the 31st rather than the New Year’s Day. The type likely to be recruited – experienced players out of the picture at their current employers or just coming back from injury – will then need a few games to get up top speed.
This recovery needs to happen with the players that are here.
History dictates clubs rarely survive from these sort of positions. Only twice have teams had less points than this on the board this deep into a Championship campaign. On both occasions Rotherham ended up more than 20 points adrift.
On average, you need 50 points to stay up in this division. Town need 39 from 26 to reach that magic marker. That’s 1.5 points per game.
That’s not promotion form, or even play-off form, ‘just’ solid top-half form.
Sounds achievable right? Then you remember that over the last 46 games the Blues have taken 39 points. It’s going to take some turnaround.
Once a big name in the heavyweight division, Town have long been ducking and diving on the ropes. Now they’re very much on the canvas.
‘One, two, three...’
The last word goes to Fury.
“It’s an iconic comeback isn’t it?” he said, bruised but unbroken. “I had two-and-a-half years out the ring, 10 stone ballooned, mental health problems... I just showed the world tonight that you can come back and it can be done.”
He then looks straight down the lense and says: “If I can come back from where I’ve come from then you can do it to.”
There’s still time to get up.