The Verdict: Worst season in 58 years - and little light at the end of the tunnel for Ipswich Town
PUBLISHED: 09:43 08 May 2017
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Thank goodness that's over with.
What a torturous season that was for Ipswich Town fans to endure. The odd bit of good, a lot more bad and plenty of ugly.
Yesterday’s 3-0 defeat at Nottingham Forest was a fitting finish. This was yet another golden chance to play with freedom against a side gripped with fear passed up.
Forest’s joyous celebrations at the end were well over the top. Elsewhere, Blackburn Rovers were the team that sunk to League One. It was reminder that other clubs of a similar ilk are in worse situations.
Others’ misfortune should not mask Town’s own failings though. Huddersfield, Brentford, Preston and Barnsley all finished well above them without spending stratospheric money.
The fact of the matter is, a 16th place finish represents Ipswich Town’s lowest placing since 1959. They were just four points above the drop zone in the end. Talk about putting things into perspective.
McCarthy’s repeated insistence this is simply one bad year doesn’t wash with those who have sat through so much dross since the start of 2016.
Many will vote with their feet. The club will be lucky to sell 10,000 season tickets at this rate – and that will equate to around a £1m loss in guaranteed revenue.
The debate about how Town have reached such a state of staleness has gone round and round in circles.
If owner Marcus Evans is not willing to put more than £5-6m a year into the club, and football’s exploding finances are beyond him, then is there anything any manager could do better? Evans, rightly or wrongly, still seems to see McCarthy as his safe pair of hands.
Fans are fed up with safe though. Yes, McCarthy has had to deal with a limited budget, the sale of Daryl Murphy and key injuries, but his well of sympathy is dry when it should be full. His cautious tactics and caustic words have seen to that.
The Blues are risk-adverse on and off the pitch. This season should be a wake-up call, but instead we are facing continued equilibrium.
It looks set to be the same manager, the same wheeling and dealing, followed by the same old pre-season.
Oh to be a fly on the wall when Evans and McCarthy sit down for their big chat. They need to give supporters something, anything, to cling onto – and fast.