The season is now all but over, so the question is, where do we go from here? Some will say we must get rid of manager Paul Lambert and start afresh but would this make any real sense at this stage of the season? Others argue that the real cause of our sad demise is owner Marcus Evans, and until he looks to pastures new, we are destined to at best, stay where we are or at worst, go further down the football pyramid.
Yesterday at Portman Road, Town played with three up front but only one of them (Freddie Sears) was a natural striker. Alan Judge is an enigma where ever Lambert chooses to play him and Teddy Bishop – although technically very gifted, is an attacking midfielder who is returning from a long term injury, and not entirely suited to a position up top.
But let’s be fair about this. The Town played with a collective verve and commitment in this match than was not seen at home to Fleetwood Town on Tuesday night and, as Cole Skuse said afterwards, it proves the Blues have not thrown in the towel. At times, Ipswich played some good football but, as always, it was in the final third that we were found wanting.
Matt Godden’s 16th-minute strike saw leaders Coventry City to a 1-0 win but overall there was very little to choose between the sides, and it was only in the finishing department that the Sky Blues won the day. The game stats proved this. Town had 56% of possession and the same amount of shots on target (2) but of course the difference was, we could not find the net!
This was a resilient performance by the home team and Lambert rightly praised his player’s efforts afterwards and said defiantly, ” The lads gave me everything. They gave me absolutely everything. They gave me everything in their body. They scored with their one real chance. Today I was proud of them, really proud of them. I’m proud of everybody in the stadium.”
Lambert went on to praise the supporters too, who he said “were great,” and it was clear to see that winning is not everything but the performance certainly is. The manager went on to say, “I think they saw what we’ve got out there and they saw the commitment. And that’s all you can ask for. We lose the game, but the performance was a lot better.”
But where do we go from here? There are mitigating circumstances for where we find ourselves in the table, and the fact that we don’t get the rub of the green when it comes to officiating is just one of them. Injuries to key players have not helped, and losing our three mains strikers is, of course, another, but having started the season so brightly, it is staggering to see us fall further and further away from those play-off places, and we now find ourselves in tenth in the table with just a few games remaining.
In fairness to manager Paul Lambert, he has not been blessed with much luck and every manager will tell you, without some of it, your card is marked. But they say you make your own luck in life and some of his decision-making has left a lot to be desired. Postponing matches earlier in the season had a detrimental effect on momentum and he has made far too many unforced changes to the team far too often, largely due to the size of the squad and his indecisiveness.
Marcus Evans could not even be bothered to turn up yesterday – perhaps afraid of the reaction from supporters. Is his heart really in it – or has it ever been? I am not convinced at all, and as every season passes and our decline becomes more and more apparent, there is only one man really running the show and he hides away from publicity like a Howard Hughes.
Where do we go from here? I quite simply haven’t a clue but one thing I do know is that unless Marcus Evans has a change of heart, and really starts committing himself to Ipswich Town football club, we will continue to go backwards with ever-increasing rapidity.
F.W. – editor of Vital Ipswich