Stuart Watson’s Sunday Verdict: Just how to do Ipswich Town break this Groundhog Day cycle?

Where do Town go from here? Town manager Mick McCarthy gives instructions during Saturday's limp FA

Where do Town go from here? Town manager Mick McCarthy gives instructions during Saturday's limp FA Cup defeat to Sheffield United. Photo: Steve Waller - Credit: Archant

Just where do we go from here?

Ipswich Town produced a limp display to lose 1-0 at home to Sheffield United and exit the FA Cup at the first hurdle for the eighth successive season on Saturday.

They say it’s the hope that kills you, but when it comes to being a Blues fan it’s the sense of predictability.

After a much-improved opening six months of the campaign, a poor Christmas period – one draw, four defeats, two goals and just eight shots on target – has brought back that Groundhog Day feeling.

• Northstander: Sorry Mick, but your bewildering post-match assessment is wrong!

Where do Town go from here? Town manager Mick McCarthy gives instructions during Saturday's limp FA

Where do Town go from here? Town manager Mick McCarthy gives instructions during Saturday's limp FA Cup defeat to Sheffield United. Photo: Steve Waller - Credit: Picture: Steve Waller

Out of the cups, stranded in mid-table, almost certainly heading for a 17th successive season in the Championship and a lot more talk about player sales than signings.

Town have an owner who is unwilling or unable to keep pace with football’s rapidly-inflating financial landscape. The five-point plan – centred around the academy – is noble, but unlikely to halt this slow bleed.

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Attendances have been on a steady decline for a decade, while debt has crept up year-on-year to £89m.

Incoming transfer fees simply get swallowed up in the ever-increasing costs of running a football club.

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Investing £6m a year is far from unsubstantial, but it’s simply not enough.

• Mick McCarthy admits ‘they are a bit sick of the same old’

Even the most ardent of Blues fans will not wait forever for lightning to strike. Disillusionment and apathy has already led to thousands, reluctantly, finding better things to do with their time and money.

You have to feel sympathy for manager Mick McCarthy. It’s not his fault this club has been in this division for so long. In fact, they may well have dropped out of it without him.

• Stuart says: Eight observations from Town’s defeat to Sheffield United

He’s worked on a shoestring budget for five years. He’s faced the worst possible luck when it comes to injuries this season. He’s always turned out teams that represent the club with pride.

Yet a glass ceiling has undoubtedly been reached.

“I think they (the fans) are a bit sick of the same old and they want a change don’t they?” said McCarthy, who doesn’t help himself by saying things like ‘I wasn’t unhappy with the performance’.

“I guess that’s understandable, but, for the moment, that’s not happening.”

The Blues boss, love him or loathe him, has the air of a man who has made up his mind to walk away when his contract expires this summer.

Whoever replaces him could find it very hard to break this cycle under similar constraints.

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