North Stander: Will lessons now be learned by Evans and his colleagues?
PUBLISHED: 10:00 14 April 2019 | UPDATED: 10:02 14 April 2019
© Copyright Stephen Waller
North Stander TERRY HUNT reflects on an emotional day at Portman Road, but asks have lessons been learned?
Relegation has been inevitable for a long time, but the awful reality is still utterly gut-wrenching.
Without doubt the lowest point in our club’s rich and glorious history.
I know there are no guarantees in football, but how can Ipswich Town be facing football in the third tier?
It’s simply not right – but it has happened, and now we all have to hope that painful lessons have been learned.
As we know, our current miserable plight is the legacy of a disastrous combination of a lack of investment by Marcus Evans and what many view as mistakes by the club’s hierarchy over a number of years.
I won’t go through the list – there are far too many blunders and missed opportunities.
The result is that we face third tier football for the first time in most fans’ lives.
But, I repeat the question, will lessons now be learned by Evans and his colleagues?
You would hope so, because the awful evidence of cause and effect is pretty obvious in our current, horrible situation.
The big positive is that they have something to build on.
Paul Lambert, despite dreadful results, has worked miracles in restoring the faith of the fans. There were extraordinary, emotional scenes after the final whistle on Saturday. How many relegated teams will get that kind of reception from their supporters?
Lambert just stood on the pitch, staring, hardly believing what he was seeing.
Our fans are a huge bonus in the rebuilding process.
Evans and co. must treasure the supporters, and do everything they can to keep them on board.
But, a word of caution. We have been here before, and the club messed up big-time.
Do you remember the end of the 2014-15 season, when we took on Norwich in the play-offs?
Ok, we lost in the end, but there was a wonderful moment in the Carrow Road leg, when Tommy Smith sprinted 100 yards to celebrate with the Town supporters after scoring.
That was a lump in the throat moment, a sure sign that fans and football club were in perfect harmony.
I remember writing a piece that day, saying that once again we had a football club of which we could be proud.
But Evans and Mick McCarthy failed to build on that, and all we saw was decline. Lack of investment from Evans, ultra-pragmatic football and increasing bolshiness from McCarthy, and it all ended with an awful, toxic atmosphere.
The club now has another chance to build on something very special.
The first chance will be the announcement of season ticket prices. I hope upon hope that Evans gets this right.
It’s the owner’s opportunity to say thank you to the fans and do his best to fill the stadium next season.
But if he gets it wrong – as he has in the past – then he will start driving wedges between the club and the supporters once again. And, without the fans, the club has nothing. Absolutely nothing.
As for investment, well, we all understand how tough the finances will be.
The loss of millions in TV revenue will hit the club very hard. I’m sure there will be back room staff at Portman Road who are very worried about their jobs.
But, actually, I don’t think this squad needs huge investment to be a force in League One.
We have a group of promising kids coming through who, combined with Judge, Chambers, and Skuse, will prove a successful formula.
The most obvious requirement is for a goalscorer.
Lack of clinical finishing has been our biggest problem this season. We’ve seen it throughout this awful campaign. Being unable to score more than one goal a game will always end in tears.
So we need a new striker, maybe to play alongside Kayden Jackson.
I know he hasn’t exactly set the world alight since signing, but he does show promise. Clever runs, which all too often his team-mates don’t see.
In League One, he could be quite a player.
This has certainly been the worst season I have known since I started going to Portman Road aged 11 in 1968.
A definite low point - and all so unnecessary.
Our decline could have been stopped in its tracks, but the club has been sleepwalking.
Let’s hope that what happened on Saturday acts as the ultimate, painful wake-up call.