So Town owner Marcus Evans seems to like the name, Paul. He has installed three of them in his ten years at the helm, so could it be third time lucky? In the club’s history, we have only had four of them, and that is if you include the very short spell when Paul Goddard took over from John Lyall in December 1994 but that was only for four games, and he couldn’t buy a win either.
Now I know what you are thinking. We should not read too much into a name, and the fact that Evans has already picked three managers by the name of Paul is nothing more than a quirky coincidence. This is probably true but football people are notoriously superstitious so let us hope that the new ‘Pope Paul’ is more successful than the rest because let’s face it, this name has not provided Ipswich Town with much success so far. Paul Jewell was a very likeable chap but it could be argued that just like Paul Hurst, he was hopelessly out of his depth. Yet when it boils down to football ignorance, then our owner beats all of them hands down.
In his first press conference, Paul Lambert, by contrast, conveyed a sense of self-belief in his own ability, without explaining in lucid terms exactly how he could turn things around. He made ‘no promises’ and cleverly steered clear of awkward questions about his former life as a dedicated Canary and his 43 game spell as manager of Colchester United, instead focusing almost entirely on the here and now. The press corps purred in appreciation of his performance, which struck the right balance between humour and vision and with a real understanding of the mechanics of public relations. It was the fanfare for the common man and executed with consummate ease by the cheerful Glaswegian.
Naturally, as a lifelong Ipswich Town fan of more than fifty years, I sincerely want him to succeed. And as many supporters have already alluded to, the past is the past and we now must look forward and not backwards anymore. The slate is wiped clean again and it will be a fresh start at Portman Road against Preston on Saturday – even if the players will all have very familiar faces.
They say that talk is cheap and action speaks much louder than words. He seems happy to be here after six months out of the game and let us see if all that small talk about making the fans happy too, really does carry any weight?
F.W. – editor of Vital Ipswich