Stuart Watson’s Verdict: Marcus Evans needs to speak up – and fast
- Credit: Warren Page
Ipswich Town owner Marcus Evans has to speak up – and fast.
Draw 1-1 at Norwich, lose 1-0 at home to Cardiff, then win 1-0 at Preston. A week of spirited performances ultimately ended with four points from a possible nine. It was a neat snapshot of where the mid-table Blues are at.
Win, lose or draw, everything gets picked to pieces now. This time the main talking point was Mick McCarthy’s decision to take off the electric Mustapha Carayol and replace him with the tenacious Luke Hyam at the break. A thrilling first half was followed by a scrappy second.
Is it churlish to bemoan cautious tactics given Town ended up leaving Lancashire with all three points? Possibly. Is McCarthy right to say his low-budget, injury-hit side has played ‘well enough’ of late? Probably.
Positive results and performances are not shifting these lingering dark clouds though. Fans aren’t able, it seems, to be able to universally enjoy wins like the one at Deepdale and, formerly, at The Stadium of Light. It’s sad and it’s not healthy.
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As previously stated, this club is not ‘rotten to the core’ or ‘a complete mess’ as some have suggested. It is relatively stable, but also stagnating and going stale. Put bluntly, Ipswich Town have become one of the dullest football clubs in the land to follow.
The will he, won’t he stay soap opera surrounding the soon to be out-of-contract McCarthy is certainly becoming tiresome. It’s created an equally tiresome infighting among fans who should be united behind the same cause.
McCarthy has insisted he won’t be forced out by a ‘small section’ of supporters. By contrast, a poll run on my Twitter feed for 24 hours prior to Saturday’s game had 72% of 2,979 voters saying McCarthy should not be offered a new deal. Similar polls elsewhere returned very similar results.
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That’s far from scientific. I accept that the internet attracts a certain demographic. However, McCarthy’s comments about a ‘vocal minority’ who aim toxic chants in his direction fails to take into account the silent masses – more than three thousand – who have walked away from Portman Road.
That is fact. It’s there in the black and white of falling attendance figures. And we’re not talking only about ‘fairweather’ fans who have not renewed season tickets in recent years. There is anecdotal evidence that supporters of unbroken stints of 10, 20, 30 years are reluctantly finding better things to do with their time and money.
That’s not mentioning the current season ticket holders who can’t summon up the energy to attend or those who now go out of a sense of duty and habit rather than joy or anticipation.
Yes, the sooner McCarthy’s situation is cleared up the better for everyone concerned.
If Evans wants to stick with Mick then he needs to explain why. And if he decides this cycle has come to its natural end and that he wants go down a different route then he also needs to explain why. There are plenty of other things Evans needs to clarify too.
Does he still believe in his five-point plan one year on from its launch? Is he prepared to spend more money to keep up with the exploding finances of the Championship? What does he realistically expect of his manager and the team at this current juncture?
Would he have bought this club 10 years ago had he known what he knows now? How much longer is he prepared to lose millions of pounds each year with little sign of a return? Is there a point where he would look to cut his losses?
Supporters deserve complete transparency. And they deserve to hear it all from the man at the very top. Platitudes from managing director Ian Milne simply won’t cut it. As has been said before in this column – Evans needs to not only tell his vision, but also truly sell it.
It’s his lack of visible and vocal presence which has created this toxic combination of cynicism, conspiracy, distrust, disillusionment, anger, apathy and infighting. It’s intensified the spotlight on the manager (who has not helped himself).
If there are myths to be debunked then for goodness sake debunk them. And preferably before season tickets go on sale at some stage next month. People need to get their heads around what’s next.