North Stander: Town are a work in progress – and that's fine
PUBLISHED: 09:41 06 August 2018 | UPDATED: 09:41 06 August 2018
© Copyright Stephen Waller
In his first column of the season, North Stander Terry Hunt gives his thoughts on the year ahead, and the impending departure of star man Martyn Waghorn.
Here we go again - and I’m confident this column will be a much happier place over the next nine months or so.
For the last couple of seasons, Northstander has hopefully reflected the mood of the majority of Town fans. In other words, increasingly irritated and frustrated by the happenings at our favourite football club.
I haven’t especially enjoyed criticising the club I’ve supported for more than half a century, but equally I wasn’t prepared to pretend everything in the garden was smelling of roses.
Now, thank goodness, there is a fresh start. The decision-making at Portman Road has been spot-on in recent months, and long may it continue.
It started with the departure of Mick McCarthy, and then just gained momentum. We had the drop in season ticket prices, and an apology from Marcus Evans for last year’s ludicrous increase.
Then there was the Evans interview, the appointment of a bright spark of a manager in Paul Hurst, and then the announcement of an “all through” footballing philosophy for the whole club.
It’s been great stuff. I feel much more engaged with Ipswich Town than I have for a while. If the size of Saturday’s crowd is any guide, then I’m not the only Blues supporter who feels that way.
Of course, none of us are expecting miracles on the pitch. We are very much a team in transition, and Saturday’s performance clearly demonstrated that.
That transition really is wholesale, involving not only major changes in personnel but also adapting the way we try to play our football.
In the next few days, there will inevitably be more arrivals and departures. It looks certain that Martin Waghorn will leave.
I know it’s a great piece of business – hats off to McCarthy for that – but I still feel he will leave a very large gap.
Not just for his playing qualities – look at how many goals he was involved in last season – but also for his big personality. A born leader. Thanks for that one brilliant season, Martyn.
Saturday was a curate’s egg, as one of my old university professors used to say – good in parts. Gwion Edwards looks a real livewire who will get fans on the edge of their seats every time he’s on the ball.
Chalobah, although very young, is clearly a quality player. But we still seem to be prone to giving away soft goals, which was a real problem in the McCarthy era.
We’ll have some more new faces in the next few days, and all of this will take time to settle. Then, of course, we have players who have been out long-term on the way back.
Very much work in progress. My hopes for this season are, I think, realistic. Some more enterprising, exciting football, an engaging manager who shows how much he values the supporters, and simply a feeling of club and fans pulling in the same direction.
I think we’ll get all of the above, while hopefully also seeing a distinct, and attractive, playing style develop under Hurst and Doig.
I think talk of relegation from some pundits is a little far-fetched, but equally I think it’s unlikely we’ll be strong enough and settled enough to mount a challenge for the play-offs. That’s fine for this season. The expectations will rise in subsequent campaigns.
- A final word on the World Cup. For reasons I won’t bore you with, I’ve had a bit of time on my hands this summer.
Several of my mates, trying to cheer me up, said: “Well, you’ll be able to watch lots of the World Cup.” Now, for someone who hadn’t really enjoyed a World Cup tournament since the wonderful Brazilians won it in 1970, that really wasn’t what I wanted to hear.
But what a revelation! I loved it. Great football, lots of shocks, brilliant goals – and even dear old England doing very well.
There was also a truly wonderful development. You know that ludicrous grappling which takes place before a corner, which makes you think Mick McManus has made a comeback?
Well, referees put a stop to it in the World Cup. A few penalties were given and, magically, it just went away. Is it too much to hope that referees in England can do the same this season? It’s not rocket science!