North Stander: From ‘doomed’ to ‘a glimmer of hope’... It’s now over to you Marcus!
PUBLISHED: 10:13 23 December 2018 | UPDATED: 10:13 23 December 2018
© Copyright Stephen Waller
North Stander Terry Hunt feels more optimistic than he has for ages. But it’s still a big hole Town are in
The January transfer window is looking increasingly crucial in Paul Lambert’s quest for a footballing miracle.
Lambert has been incredibly impressive since coming to Portman Road, instilling belief into a shell-shocked squad, and building bridges with thoroughly fed-up fans.
He has given us a chance of digging ourselves out of a very deep hole.
But, as Lambert himself keeps saying, we do need help in January. Without reinforcements, I fear we still lack the quality to stay in the Championship.
There lies the issue.
Will owner Marcus Evans back his manager financially to the extent that’s required? I have to say the recent track record isn’t terribly encouraging!
Already we have Lambert sounding a bit like Mick McCarthy, talking about clubs demanding “outrageous” money for players.
It’s not clear whether he’s talking about loans or permanent transfers.
Whichever, the point is this. The difference between “outrageous” and “market rate” is whether someone is prepared to pay what’s being asked.
In simplistic terms, it’s a bit like going into a pub, ordering a pint, and being outraged when the owner asks for a fiver.
Well, if everyone else in the pub is paying up happily, then you will be leaving without your beer, I suspect.
I really hope Evans doesn’t feel that we’re capable of escaping relegation without significant strengthening.
Yes, Lambert has done brilliantly to get the team playing so much better. Saturday was a great example. But we still lack Championship quality in several areas.
I have to say, I left Portman Road after the Sheffield United game feeling more optimistic than I have for ages.
Yes, the visitors were clearly the better side, as you would expect from a top-six side.
But we showed huge levels of team spirit, battled away, played some decent stuff in spells, and deserved our point, despite the Blades outgunning us in terms of possession and attempts on target.
Under Paul Hurst, I’m convinced we would have been blown away in that game.
As I said earlier, Lambert has injected self-belief into the players. It makes a huge difference.
I love what Lambert does at the end of each game, shepherding every player towards the Sir Bobby Robson stand to salute the fans.
The manager also gives us a wave of appreciation. I don’t recall Mick McCarthy doing that!
The draw takes us to within four points of safety. Amazing, and encouraging, how quickly that all-important statistic can change.
A couple of weeks ago, we were eight points adrift and looking dead and buried for all money.
At that point, as I said in this column, I was convinced we were doomed. Now, while the odds are still stacked against us, I can see a glimmer of hope.
When Lambert arrived, we all said his first task was to keep us in touch with the pack when the January window opened.
Well, barring disaster in the next couple of games, he’s achieved that goal.
Now, it’s over to the owner to back his manager. What do we need? Well, the most obvious requirement is for a centre-forward.
With Freddie Sears scoring goals again, we need a target man to play alongside him.
Rudy Gestede has been linked, as has Daryl Murphy. Either of those would fit the bill as far as I’m concerned. Big Murph could still do a job in the short-term, even at the rather advanced age of 35!
I also think we need two new full-backs.
Spence and Knudsen lack the quality we need. I listened to Mick Mills talking about the radio after Saturday’s game, and he was critical of their performances. If anyone knows anything about playing in both full-back positions, then it has to be Millsy!
So, at the halfway point of the season, we are clearly in desperate trouble, but there is renewed belief and there is renewed hope. Thanks to Paul Lambert for that.
Now we look to Marcus Evans. Yes, the demands might be “outrageous,” but failing to invest at this point will have one inevitable, and disastrous, outcome.