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North Stander: I so hope my doomsday scenario doesn't come true... But here it is anyway..

PUBLISHED: 06:00 10 February 2020

Disappointment for Ipswich players Will Keane and Flynn Downes at Sunderland Picture Pagepix

Disappointment for Ipswich players Will Keane and Flynn Downes at Sunderland Picture Pagepix

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North Stander Terry Hunt is worried. It's a critical time for Town he feels... And he hopes his doomsday scenario doesn't come to fruition

Ipswich concede at Sunderland Picture PagepixIpswich concede at Sunderland Picture Pagepix

Let's be crystal clear - this is an absolutely critical time for the future status of our once illustrious football club.

If we fail to get promoted this season - as looks increasingly likely, on current form - we'll face the appalling prospect of becoming stranded in the dreadful, kick-and-rush third tier of English football. Let's look at the worst-case scenario...

Failure to return to the Championship at the first time of asking will see vultures from the higher divisions taking away our best young players, Flynn Downes, Luke Woolfenden, and also Kane Vincent-Young, if he returns to top form after coming back from injury.

They won't be replaced with players of similar quality, weakening our squad and making promotion even more unlikely.

The "novelty" of League One will evaporate, and two or three thousand fans will not renew their season tickets, reducing a vital revenue stream and leading to more attempts to cut the wage bill.

Kayden Jackson shows his frustration at Sunderland Picture PagepixKayden Jackson shows his frustration at Sunderland Picture Pagepix

The downward spiral of the Marcus Evans era will continue at an increasing pace. Poorer quality players, lower crowds, even less money.

In the eyes of football fans the length and breadth of the country, once mighty Ipswich will have become an irrelevance, a mere footnote.

A lower league "minnow" in the same bracket as Fleetwood and Rochdale.

MORE: Stu Watson's 5 observations from the defeat at Sunderland

For all Town fans, including those of us who have extraordinary memories of the glory days, this would be a very bitter pill to swallow.

Luke Woolfenden on the ball at Sunderland Picture PagepixLuke Woolfenden on the ball at Sunderland Picture Pagepix

An unthinkable scenario.

But, the way things are going, that's just what will happen.

Of course, what I have described is the doomsday view.

Paul Lambert would no doubt accuse me of being far too negative, pointing out that there's a lot of football still to play between now and the end of the season.

I would love him to be right, and for the team to turn it round. I would be delighted to be proved wrong.

High view - Town fans on the top deck at Sunderland Picture PagepixHigh view - Town fans on the top deck at Sunderland Picture Pagepix

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But I can only use the hard evidence - and it is certainly not a pretty picture.

The grisly stats tell their own story. Since their first league defeat of the season to Accrington on October 20, Ipswich have won only five League One games out of 19. They have picked up a measly 21 points in that time. Tellingly, they have scored only 20 goals, drawing a blank in eight games.

MORE: Lambert's reaction to another defeat... this time at Sunderland

I'll stop fascinating you with stats now...Suffice to say, our form is dreadful, and it's been going on for long enough to be a very big worry.

Flynn Downes blasts away a second half chance at Sunderland Picture PagepixFlynn Downes blasts away a second half chance at Sunderland Picture Pagepix

Not surprisingly, we're sliding down the league.

Our current seventh place in the third division is the worst in my lifetime, and I celebrate my 63rd birthday next month.

Our current malaise was epitomised for me by one horrific moment at Sunderland. Given a golden chance with an indirect free-kick less than ten yards out, James Norwood somehow managed to screw his shot horribly wide. Quite honestly, a Sunday morning pub team player would have been embarrassed.

All of this reflects really poorly on the manager.

I have said all along that I expected us to be promoted because we have the best squad in the division.

Josh Earl wearing the protective mask at Sunderland Picture PagepixJosh Earl wearing the protective mask at Sunderland Picture Pagepix

I still think we have a terrific bunch of players for League One, but they're clearly not performing. Why not? Well, there's the big question, but ultimately the buck stops with Lambert.

Bluntly, if he doesn't get promotion with this squad, then he will have failed big-time.

At the vast majority of football clubs, such a monumental failure would see the manager sacked. But not here. We've given Lambert a five-year contract, so removing him would cost owner Marcus Evans a very big pile of money.

It's all looking like a shambles.

MORE: Wilson's thoughts on the defeat at Sunderland

Luke Woolfenden on the ball at Sunderland Picture PagepixLuke Woolfenden on the ball at Sunderland Picture Pagepix

I really do hope my doomsday scenario doesn't come true, but it's difficult to be anything other than very, very downbeat at the moment.

How can this be happening to the club of Sir Alf and Sir Bobby, of Crawford, Phillips, Mills, Beattie, Muhren, Thijssen, Wark, Butcher, and so many other great players and glorious memories?

As I said earlier, it really is unthinkable.

And horribly, horribly painful.

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