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Dave Gooderham: Counting the cost of not even reaching the play-offs for Town

13 February, 2020 - 09:00
A disappointed Luke Chambers at AFC Wimbledon Picture Pagepix

A disappointed Luke Chambers at AFC Wimbledon Picture Pagepix

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In his latest Town column, Dave Gooderham asks questions of Paul Lambert, tries to find some positives, and considers what the cost of not even reaching the play-offs could be to the Blues.

On a number of occasions this season, my Tuesday nights have gone something like this…

Finish work, coach my Under-8s and then dash back to the 'comfort' of my iPad to watch Ipswich Town via iFollow.

From a production point of view, it does what it needs to. Picture quality is good, the dulcet tones of Brenner Woolley a pleasure. It's £10 well spent - maybe.

MORE: Stu says: Five observations following Ipswich Town's 0-0 draw at AFC Wimbledon

I was questioning the wisdom of parting with 10 pounds while sitting through Tuesday night's insipid goalless draw with a pretty woeful AFC Wimbledon. But if they were woeful, Ipswich were little better.

Paul Lambert at AFC Wimbledon Picture PagepixPaul Lambert at AFC Wimbledon Picture Pagepix

"Why don't you just turn it off" said Mrs G with about 16 minutes on the clock. I was tempted, I really was, as I contemplated swapping screens and continuing the binge-watching of Ballers. Ironically, there was very few of them on show at Kingsmeadow.

But of course, I had paid that 10 pounds and something might happen. I couldn't turn it off and risk not seeing James Norwood smash home a volley rather than striking the crossbar or go clean through and...

As all football fans know, it's the hope that kills you. And there has been a lot of hope around Portman Road this season - whether at the start of the campaign, during those whirlwind first few months or turning a corner - we hoped - into the New Year. So much hope, now quickly turning into dread at the very real prospect that Ipswich won't make the play-offs, let alone the top two.

The run-in still seems very favourable, not least because of the amount of home games starting this Saturday. But the form is truly woeful, as is the lack of confidence running through the team. Question marks have once again been raised about the manager and his team selection.

MORE: 'We need to win all of them... simple as that' - Downes on Town's stalling promotion bid

Luke Woolfenden shooting at AFC Wimbledon Picture PagepixLuke Woolfenden shooting at AFC Wimbledon Picture Pagepix

Why deploy three quite defensive midfielders against a limited AFC Wimbledon instead of a Judge, Nolan or a further advanced Dozzell? Maybe even more annoying was the fact that none of that trio even kicked a ball in anger on Tuesday.

I always try and stay calm in these situations. Paul Lambert sees these players in training day in, day out. Maybe Dozzell is not doing enough on the training ground. As fans, all we can have is an opinion. It is the manager's decision that is final. As one supporter rightly pointed out on Twitter, Lambert's long-term contract presumably means we are with him for the long haul. So we need to support him and his team, now more than ever.

But what about next season? I go back to that £10. Or the £100 it costs me and my family to watch football at Portman Road. Would I pay either next season? Probably. Would I do it with so much regularity? Possibly not. Does that make me a bad fan of Ipswich Town? I'm not sure.

But I would argue that many more supporters will be thinking the same. Let's make this clear, our fans should be mightily proud of themselves this season. They have backed the Blues in their numbers, home and away. Every defeat or poor performance might be met with an avalanche of criticism and concern on social media. But they still flock to Portman Road, the Stadium of Light or the Kingsmeadow in fantastic numbers.

But what about next season? A failure to make the League One play-offs would inevitably result in Ipswich losing some young talents but it would probably also see a reduction in season ticket holders and certainly a reduction in casual fans who might view the club as reaching their level in League One. A depressing thought to go with a largely depressing column.

Emyr Huws takes a first half free-kick deflected for a corner at AFC Wimbledon Picture PagepixEmyr Huws takes a first half free-kick deflected for a corner at AFC Wimbledon Picture Pagepix

But I always want to try and stay (a bit) positive and end on a high note. This Saturday, Burton Albion at home, it could all be different. An early goal for Norwood would help a lot - and I would definitely start our number 10. He will come good again, I have no doubt.

MORE: Lambert on goalless draw at Wimbledon, Norwood's low confidence and his failed attempt to bring Wickham back to Ipswich

It is also Community Trust Day at Portman Road and I, for one, think a £1 donation is nothing to support the work of the club's charitable arm.

Then there is Sunday. Manchester City Women v Ipswich Town Women in the fifth round of The Women's FA Cup. Fighting for a place in the quarter finals at the Etihad Campus is already a monumental achievement for the Tractor Girls. I hope they enjoy and relish the occasion and show everyone what they are about. Win, lose or draw - everyone connected with all aspects of Ipswich Town are incredibly proud of you.

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