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The Verdict: Ipswich Town are sleepwalking towards League One after ignoring the warning signs

PUBLISHED: 10:45 19 March 2017 | UPDATED: 09:55 21 March 2017

Ipswich Town skipper Luke Chambers walks from the pitch after Saturday's defeat at Cardiff. Photo: PAGEPIX LTD

Ipswich Town skipper Luke Chambers walks from the pitch after Saturday's defeat at Cardiff. Photo: PAGEPIX LTD

Pagepix Ltd 07976 935738

Ipswich Town have sleepwalked straight into the perfect storm.

It’s time to start seriously talking about the previously unthinkable – the club’s 60-year stay in English football’s top two tiers is very much under threat.

Here are the stark facts. Saturday’s 3-1 defeat at Cardiff City saw the gap to the Championship drop zone cut to just five points with eight games to play.

It’s starting to look like seven teams are battling to avoid finishing in 22nd spot. Town are, without doubt, the most out-of-form side in that pack having claimed just 14 points from a possible 42 since the turn of the year. Rock-bottom Rotherham aside, no-one in the bottom half has won fewer games in their last 10 outings.

There is now a fortnight for fans to fester on last week’s slap-in-the-face news of a season ticket price hike. The atmosphere could be toxic, and the players could be nervy, for high-pressure home games against Birmingham (18th) and Wigan (23rd).

How on earth have we reached this point?

Town failed to strengthen from a position of strength at the end of 2014. They’ve stood still while others around them have kicked on. Owner Marcus Evans wrongly thought manager Mick McCarthy could juggle dust indefinitely when everyone else recognised that the team had been punching above their weight.

McCarthy has been his own worst enemy at times too. He’s allowed his relationship with fans to diminish through belligerent words and actions. The very qualities that have made him so durable in the most cutthroat of industries are working against him at present. He’s hurt. He’s repeatedly said he will consider his future this summer. It’s not the ideal situation for a club now in a relegation scrap.

Then there’s the fact that Luke Chambers – captain fantastic, the glue that keeps the dressing room together – has been left demoralised by delayed and disappointing contract talks. Cole Skuse will not want to see his best mate move on. Christophe Berra also faces an uncertain future. Three senior players unsettled is bound to have a ripple effect around a squad short on leaders.

So much spirit, goodwill and unity has evaporated. The warning signs have been there for at least a year now, but cautious, passive decisions have allowed a slow bleed. It’s simply inexcusable.

Mar 14, 2016: ‘Death by a thousand cuts’

Mar 21, 2016: ‘Take heed of fans’ frustrations’

May 2, 2016: ‘No ambition = bored fans’

Oct 17, 2016: ‘Depressingly predictable’

Nov 7, 2016: ‘Stop the snarky comments Mick’

Nov 21, 2016: ‘Portman Road purgatory plumbs new depths’

Dec 5, 2016: ‘What is the plan?’

Dec 12, 2016: ‘Get out of your bubble’

Jan 9, 2017: ‘From unity to discord’

Jan 23, 2017: ‘Actions not matching words’

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20 comments

  • Well I must say I saw it coming. Evans will now surely stop investing in the Club and will think more about making a profit by financial manipulations of the ITFC losses, and Micksy must abandon that expansive entertaining style of play he employs and become more defensive minded - perhaps even looking no further than a 0-0 draw than going for the win. Ooops sorry - have just woken up!!

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    SussexTractorBoy

    Monday, March 20, 2017

  • I believe we are safe this season from relegation !!! Next season will be a totally different outcome and a far bigger problem. Evans legacy will possibly be taking Ipswich into League One in 2018 if these austerity measures continue. The die-hard supporters will prop the club up out of sheer loyalty regardless but attendances will certainly fall below 12.000 on a regular basis. Feelings are running high right now but obviously it can get a lot worse. It would need a minor miracle if Evans would start a more realistic plan of action but sadly this forward thinking agenda to save the club just does not seem to be there. Unfortunately it will cost Evans a lot of money to terminate contracts and that Is just one big headache Evans has. Sadly, Evans has been and still is being misguided and has relied on people who are dragging this club down year after year even if they are following strict guidelines. It is not rocket science, a totally new mind-set is needed. Perhaps a new bright future can only be secured with managers like the Lincoln City management team. Good managers are out there but every manager needs the funds and tools to work with. A younger, fresh management and coaching team to be given the job of building and motivating a very passionate, able squad that gets the lost supporters back. The supporters want to feel connected with the club and players making an effort . The fans need a manager who shows he is as passionate as them. A team made up of good young players released from or on loan from premiership clubs mixed with experienced players. A team that has the energy and skill to play attacking football. There is no spark from McCarthy and the club has lost its way. You have to take notice what the fans and media are saying Mr Evans if you care.

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    chantry

    Sunday, March 19, 2017

  • I have always supported the town and directors on how the business should be run. However, if we do end up in league 1 we shall loose not only players but more worrying income. Looking t recent results, does the management want us to stay in the championship? Why does Mick McCarthty still plays the old guard, they may have the experience, but no speed or ability. That's why we keep getting only 1 point. they can not keep up with the other midfielders etc. bring in new blood who want to impress.(youngsters) or they will depart for pastures new. Sign Williams and Lawrence if you are serious for a challenge.

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    Quacke

    Sunday, March 19, 2017

  • I have always supported the town and directors on how the business should be run. However, if we do end up in league 1 we shall loose not only players but more worrying income. Looking t recent results, does the management want us to stay in the championship? Why does Mick McCarthty still plays the old guard, they may have the experience, but no speed or ability. That's why we keep getting only 1 point. they can not keep up with the other midfielders etc. bring in new blood who want to impress.(youngsters) or they will depart for pastures new. Sign Williams and Lawrence if you are serious for a challenge.

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    Quacke

    Sunday, March 19, 2017

  • Mr West. There are no assets. Massive debts. Owners on the run. Where would you find a mad man to buy into this mess ? A manager who has achieved nothing of note in 25 years. He still holds the record as the dirtiest player in World Cup history. The Town were the dirtiest club on Saturday in the Championship. No doubt Mr Punch thought it was a fine performance . I hope his wife Judy put him right. Bart keeps the score down to single numbers every week. Loans, freebies and has beens are the current 5 point plan.

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    critic Blue

    Sunday, March 19, 2017

  • Stuart...appreciate your update earlier today. But surely the club is at a tipping poInt and even stronger words might be necessary, I understand the professional dilemma you may be in...but were I in your shoes, and with my 58 years of loyal support I would want to know what the f*** is going on.

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    Bluemoses

    Sunday, March 19, 2017

  • What if MM genuinely knows what Evans real financial plans are for the club and in return he is looked after ...."I won't sack you....just play along"

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    Bluemoses

    Sunday, March 19, 2017

  • FOOTBALL IS DEAD! LONG LIVE THE SUITS.

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    Stat-Matt

    Sunday, March 19, 2017

  • No moaner here seems to mention the 80 million of debt the club has which ME has taken on. ME is rich to the tune of 800 million (times rich list) so 10% of his wealth is in this club, if it was you what would you do, I believe the debt is going to increase year on year so cut his losses now and sell at 15 Million excluding the training ground or close the club the last thing anybody would do is throw good money at a football club like ipswich.

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    a west

    Sunday, March 19, 2017

  • No moaner here seems to mention the 80 million of debt the club has which ME has taken on. ME is rich to the tune of 800 million (times rich list) so 10% of his wealth is in this club, if it was you what would you do, I believe the debt is going to increase year on year so cut his losses now and sell at 15 Million excluding the training ground or close the club the last thing anybody would do is throw good money at a football club like ipswich.

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    a west

    Sunday, March 19, 2017

  • EADT - front page spread - Back This Club Evans, Or Back Out.

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    Poet

    Sunday, March 19, 2017

  • I take note of the Editors Note at the foot of my post, however I honestly can not remember the words beneath those headlines being anywhere near strong enough. We fans rely so much on the media useing their influence to get the truth across. The truth is all we ask for. The truth is, that this club has been mistreated by the owner now for seasons, he treats the fans with no respect what so ever by palming us off with loans, has beens and players who can't get a game with any other club. There are a few exceptions in the squad, but there is no where near enough tallent for us to be able to compete. Take away the loans and what have we got? I'll tell what we've got, we've got a squad of relegation fodder. On top of this, he expects the fans to shell out more money to watch them. The state that this squad is in hase'nt happened overnight, Evans has neglected it to the point of reducing it to mid table division one standards, and that's where we are now heading. How anyone in the media could of not seen this happening at least 2 seasons ago, is a mystery to me, the fans did, they kept asking for the EADT to see it as well, but for some reason, any criticism now of Evans by this paper, is far too little and far too late.

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    Poet

    Sunday, March 19, 2017

  • No Archant reporter will dare to openly criticise the club, the owner or the manager - ever since their reporters were banned from Portman Road a few years ago, for questioning Roy Keane and his methods. Only when that spineless lot agreed to meekly report in future what the club wanted to see reported, would their staff be admitted to press conferences again. The EADT & Star reporters are too afraid of Evans. They will allow themselves to be gagged for fear of being bounced out again.

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    blue&white

    Sunday, March 19, 2017

  • This isn't strong enough EADT. You need a front page article, with Marcus Evans face across it before going on to condemn the man. He has literally been taking the Mick. He clearly doesn't care. He is NOT investing in the product. He is however a failure of an owner.

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    Jason

    Sunday, March 19, 2017

  • There must now be a concerted effort from the paper Radio Suffolk and the fans to get Evans for his non investment McCarthy for his inability to get the players to play football and Milne for his inability to run a football club the fans must be heard now before it's to late

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    Bacon & Egg

    Sunday, March 19, 2017

  • Stuart Watson is right, those warning signs have been ignored, those warning signs have been highlighted time and time again by the fans, not the EADT, not BBC Radio Suffolk, but the fans. They have been totally ignored by the aforementioned media, treated with contempt in fact. We could all see that Evans is driving his out of control train towards the cliff edge at ever increasing speed. We all warned that McCarthy will make do as mended, as he frequently says, just as long as he is being adequately rewarded. The writing has been written in the wall for seasons now, and we have stood alone. EDITOR’S NOTE: Just a few examples of previous criticism: Mar 14, 2016: ‘Death by a thousand cuts’ Mar 21, 2016: ‘Take heed of fans’ frustrations’ May 2, 2016: ‘No ambition = bored fans’ Oct 17, 2016: ‘Depressingly predictable’ Nov 7, 2016: ‘Stop the snarky comments Mick’ Nov 21, 2016: ‘Portman Road purgatory plumbs new depths’ Dec 5, 2016: ‘What is the plan?’ Dec 12, 2016: ‘Get out of your bubble’ Jan 9, 2017: ‘From unity to discord’ Jan 23, 2017: ‘Actions not matching words’

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    Poet

    Sunday, March 19, 2017

  • SAck Stuart Watson NOW!! you're part of the problem printing ITFC PR press release verbatim week in week out

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    walberswicks

    Sunday, March 19, 2017

  • Scuse and Berra are at the heart of the problem. Both need replacing. I think also Evans has become bored with the club and if he could find a buyer I guess he would sell. One of the worst things for fans is that Evans speaks through Ian Milne who is not convincing with his PR. Would love to hear Evans interviewed by Brenner on Radio Suffolk.

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    Totally-Bored

    Sunday, March 19, 2017

  • What a laughable article from a feeble predictable hack. As predicted by my good self all of two weeks ago the maginificent unbeaten run run becomes relegation form in the twinkling of a defeat. Touts have the derisory local journo they deserve. Not once has he criticised the useless manager for wholesale rent-a-mob team selections. Not once has he criticised the absurdity of ignoring youth. Not once has he criticised the greedy self-indulgent players. Relegation certainly awaits - but that will come next year as some hapless manager tries to pick up the pieces of this utterly wasted season.

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    Pundit

    Sunday, March 19, 2017

  • Got to be honest Stuart you seem to jump from one opinion to another , you clearly stated Mick was the man for the job when others have called his style of football complete and utter rubbish .Make your mind up and join the fans who are demanding he goes along with Evans .

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    Macke

    Sunday, March 19, 2017

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With eight games to go, Ipswich Town are still not safe from relegation to League One, following a tough season in the Championship, and lost 3-1 at Cardiff City at the weekend.

Mick McCarthy says his managerial record is the reason for his longevity at Portman Road, not owner Marcus Evans’ perceived patience with his managers.

Ipswich Town will not be backtracking on their decision to raise the price of season tickets, despite a huge outcry from supporters.

Loan duo Dominic Samuel and Jonny Williams made timely injury comebacks last night as a strong Ipswich Town Under-23 side drew 1-1 with Crewe at Portman Road.

Ipswich Town have suffered a double injury blow with the news that forward duo David McGoldrick and Tom Lawrence have had to withdraw from the Republic of Ireland and Wales squads respectively.

Ipswich Town fan and football reporter WILL RIDGARD gives his view on the controversy surrounding the increase in season ticket prices at Portman Road...

It’s the start of a fortnight for fans to fester on Ipswich Town’s current state of affairs – and we want to hear from you.

Ipswich Town have finally recorded a result which is not a draw.

What a time to be an Ipswich fan.

I have supported Ipswich Town since April 27, 1968, when I made my first visit to Portman Road to watch the Blues draw 2-2 with QPR. From that moment, I was well and truly hooked.

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