Are Ipswich Town fans too nice?

Are the fans at Portman Road too nice? Picture: Steve Waller

Are the fans at Portman Road too nice? Picture: Steve Waller - Credit: Picture: Steve Waller

Blues fan Karl Fuller this week questions whether a more hostile atmosphere at Portman Road would fire up the Tractor Boys.

A week after our defeat at Blackburn and many Town fans are still feeling apathetic about the way things are at present, he says.

It is very true that with a ‘glass half full’ mindset, our position is not too bad at all and we may just be going through a little slump whilst Mick tries to conjure up a formula that will give us both the results and performances that we desire.

On the evidence of the last three games though, there has been little to cheer for us fans.

We are feeling at present like we are once again treading a much trodden path, having meandered along in the Championship for 13 years, with the exception of three play-off campaigns.

What has held us back over that period? Interestingly, 60% of the current Premier League is made up of clubs that have come from the same position as us, or worse.

AFC Bournemouth and Swansea City – Since we left the Premier League in May 2002, both of these clubs have propelled themselves from League Two to the promised-land. Swansea had two seasons in League Two and one year in League One, before even joining us in the Championship.

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The year we returned to the second tier of the game, the Swans finished 89th in the league and narrowly missed relegation to the conference.

AFC Bournemouth were also playing in League Two when Town came back down at the end of the 2001/02 season.

Norwich City, Leicester City and Southampton – All went down as far as League One, sorted themselves out, came back better clubs and have gone through the Championship and into the Premier League.

Southampton have become a top-ten club, Leicester, on the back of their remarkable escape act last season, have gone from strength to strength and, as for Norwich, even when they came back down, they were able to go back up a the first attempt.

Watford, Crystal Palace, Stoke City, West Brom, West Ham United, Sunderland and Newcastle – Some of these clubs were already in the Championship when we returned in May 2002.

As for the rest, it wasn’t long before they joined us.

You won’t find passion much more in abundance than at clubs like West Ham, Palace, Newcastle and Sunderland.

Yes, their fans will turn on these clubs as much as anywhere else when the going gets rough. But just listen to the support on their good days and tell me that their players cannot feed off of that.

These 12 clubs have managed to find their way to the Premier League in the 13 seasons while we have stagnated for the most part in the supposed most difficult league in the world. But what separates them from us?

Some have moved to new grounds but I doubt that is really a contributing factor as there are plenty of other clubs who have moved and have yet to find our level.

Has it been the managers we’ve had?

Joe Royle – The best manager we’ve had by far since 2003. Got our playing budget down and took us to successive play-offs. Yet some of our fans were on his back from day one because of his Norwich connections.

Jim Magilton – A hero as a player, but yet another that suffered with a band of supporters that ultimately wanted him out. You could say, however, that he was doing OK until Marcus Evans arrived with some money and then for Jim, it was never the same.

Roy Keane – His arrival rose expectations to a massive level but not nearly as massive as was the disappointment of his tenure.

In the end, it was plainly evident that little old Ipswich and Keane were not a match made in heaven.

Paul Jewell – If Keane had taken us to a very low level, then I’m afraid, in my opinion, Jewell took us to the lowest possible one. If he had of been at the club a couple of months longer, League One would have been an almost certainty.

Mick McCarthy – Turned us around in a matter of months, putting the club back on the map and gave us a club to be proud of once more. But can he take us to the next level?

It was recently said to me that Ipswich have not appointed the right managers over the years to get us promoted.

Well those last three appointments had track records of getting promotion from this league, so for me, that’s another theory to be quashed. Is it our owner? Marcus Evans gave both Keane and Jewell money to spend as he did to Magilton too.

Spending money is not really the Ipswich way is it?

Of those mentioned here, only Royle and McCarthy have taken us to the play-offs without spending significantly on transfer fees.

Or is it the fans?

That only leaves one area left to observe. The one common denominator present in all the years, backing all the managers and supporting all the players that have worn the shirt since 2002/03. US!

Is it our fault we’ve stayed where we are so long?

I don’t mean that in a derogatory way but look at the atmosphere we created in the home leg of the play-offs last season, the noise we made at Old Trafford recently.

Would Portman Road be more hostile if three other sides of the ground joined in with the Sir Bobby Robson stand and created a more imposing atmosphere on the away teams?

Or is it just Portman Road in general? I mean visiting teams don’t exactly have it rough do they?

They have the luxury of seeing their supporters directly opposite the minute they walk out of the tunnel.

Away teams now ask to borrow Jonas Knudsen’s towels to dry the ball when wanting to take long throws and what do you know, they’re handed them!

I’m not advocating nastiness by the way, but maybe we could be more in the faces of the opposition, both on the pitch and verbally, off it – it happens to us at other grounds!

I guess that there is no singular reason for 13 years of hurt. Maybe the whole sum of the problem can be found in the parts I’ve mentioned. I’d love to know your thoughts on these matters.

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