Stuart Watson’s Sunday Verdict: Town’s increasing lack of ambition filters down from the very top
PUBLISHED: 14:03 11 February 2018 | UPDATED: 14:03 11 February 2018
© Copyright Stephen Waller
It’s no wonder Ipswich Town fans are walking away in their droves.
Time and time again they have been offered hope that a state of inertia could finally be broken only for a slow burning fuse to quickly fizzle out.
Saturday’s dreadful goalless home draw with rock-bottom Burton Albion was the latest case in point. It was a golden chance to back-up victory at Sunderland and lay a good platform for this Sunday’s trip to Norwich.
Yet Town failed to lay a glove on an injury-hit, out-of-form team who have been leaking goals at an alarming rate.
It was reminiscent of the way England were frozen by fear during their infamous Euro 2016 exit to Iceland. Mistakes proved infectious. Where was the urgency? Who wanted the ball? Where were the leaders?
The game was watched by a crowd of 13,815 - the lowest attendance for a league game at Portman Road since October 1998 and a record which has fallen four times over the last six months. Those that stayed away will say they were simply protecting themselves from some predictable heartache.
Whether it be East Anglian derby matches (no wins in nine), FA Cup ties (no wins in 13), games shown live on TV (two wins in 20), or simply occasions like the weekend – the Blues always seem to go flat on the bigger occasions.
Mick McCarthy said afterwards that being firm favourites does his side no favours. He added: “At the end of it you just make sure you don’t get beaten.”
Sadly, that rather sums up the ambition, or rather lack of it, being shown at the club these days.
Marcus Evans’ annual £6m investment pales into insignificance compared to the growing number of foreign billionaires involved at second-tier level.
McCarthy’s recent open chat about ‘mind-boggling wages’ had, for the first time, an air of defeatism about it. You sense he knows a glass ceiling has now been reached.
The players, meanwhile, often talk about ‘punching above our weight’.
From owner, to manager, to players – that state of mind filters down from the very top. This is a club seemingly getting a little too accepting of its place.
That’s why the atmosphere is so sterile on match days in Suffolk. Even the chants and boos are half-hearted.
The annual talk about always aiming for the play-offs seems more out of duty and habit than genuine deep-rooted belief.
That’s hard for the older generation of fans who remember the halcyon days to hear. And it’s doing little to inspire the next generation who are needed to take on the baton.
Of course there is no divine right to success, but all football fans – no matter where their club is at – deserve a few memorable moments along the way for their time and money. And there have been precious few of those in recent times.
With season ticket renewal packs soon to drop on doormats, the club needs to do something to inspire its supporters and fast.