|Treble Deja Vu and That Five-Point Plan. Or is it Six?|
Written by Superfrans on Wednesday, 1st Feb 2017 12:52
It feels like double deja vu at Portman Road right now. And it may be treble within a few months.
In summer 2010, Roy Keane appeared to receive only limited support in the transfer window from an owner who had given as much money as he wanted to invest. The suspicion was that Marcus Evans had concluded that that Keane wasn't the right man and would be given just a few months with the squad he had assembled to sort things out. Keane didn't and was gone barely four months later.
In autumn 2012, having signed a string of players in the summer, Paul Jewell found his plan wasn't working and drafted in a succession of loans and short term contract players in a desperate attempt to find the right blend. In late October, seven points adrift at the bottom of the Championship and heading for League One, he was relieved of his post.
There are clear echoes of both these patterns at Portman Road right now - with perhaps a third yet to come. In mid-April 2009, having led Town to a home derby victory over Norwich and secured 60 points for the season, manager Jim Magilton was relieved of his duties, having secured safety in comfortable mid-table.
You won't find many Town fans now who think that a managerial change isn't coming again this summer. All the signs are there.
More worryingly though, there are signs that the club owner Marcus Evans has not learned the clearest lesson from the past 18 months - that, in 2017, our existing recruitment policy of free transfers, low division bargains and loans leaves us too far off the Championship pace to compete.
Many fans understand our financial realities. We are a club with a turnover of around £16 million (which will decline as attendances surely slip next season) and a wage bill sucking up broadly 102 per cent of that (based on most recent financials). Evans subsidises debts of broadly £6 million a season (taking the average of the past nine years). It is perhaps understandable that he considers that enough of an annual gift to the club he owns. But if he seriously seeks promotion, how does he see this happening on such budgets?
Only a month ago, Evans unveiled his Five-Point Plan. Derided by many, it laid out a perfectly logical and coherent strategy for a club looking towards sustainability - but does it work if we seek promotion to the Premier League?
This plan is easily summarised through a series of buzz phrases - "sign cheap", "develop youth", "entertaining football", "stable management", "sustainable/competitive budget". All laudable aims and being delivered to differing degrees.
Sign cheap? Absolutely, no question there. The quality may be in question, but the price tags are certainly not.
Develop youth? Lots more success in this area over recent months - and if one part of the club gives hope, it is the work of Bryan Klug, Lee O'Neill etc at the Academy.
Entertaining football? Well, you'd have to hope that this is a newly-constructed plan and as much as a direction to Evans's manager than a reflection of past performance. More improvement needed, but, again, admirable.
Stable management? Evans does indeed have a track record of sticking with his managers (some might say for too long). But, assuming the point here is that we should have consistent, unbroken leadership, the approach towards Luke Chambers this past month is perplexing.
If a managerial change is likely this summer, surely leadership from all areas is essential - which presumably doesn't mean alienating your loyal, passionate, talismanic club captain (a player with far greater significance as the glue for our squad of players than many give him credit for) to the extent that he feels necessary to sniff around for some career security at a club with no manager and an owner who is desperately trying to sell it (Forest).
Finally, that key point - a sustainable, competitive budget. It is becoming increasingly clear that 'sustainable' to Ipswich Town and Marcus Evans is fast becoming incompatible with 'competitive' in the Championship. We have just witnessed a January window in which Championship clubs have spent sums such as £10 million (Jordan Rhodes), £13 million (Helder Costa), £12 million (Scott Hogan), £7 million (Yanic Wildschut).
Now, it is perfectly logical for Evans to question the sanity of a club with turnover of £16 million spending above £10 million on one player (a player who could become injured, lose form, lose interest). But if that is the case, what is the genuine plan for promotion? Where does this leave us?
How is bidding £2 million for a player with a £4 million price-tag competitive? How is it competitive to look for £500,000 or £1 million bargains competitive in a division where £5 million, £6 million is becoming a normal price tag for a quality (not outstanding) player?
Plenty Ipswich Town fans understand that we are living through challenging times, as football sucks in vast sums of money, distributed unevenly with recently relegated former Premier League clubs banking vast sums. Meanwhile, in pursuit of the Premier League's top dollar, clubs of our size are spending £10 million-£20 million a season in player fees, risking their future into the bargain.
But what really does that Five-Point Plan aim to deliver? Can we really do much more than tread water in the Championship? Or is this a plan to build the club through developing and selling players, reinvesting the cash over a five to 10-year period? Many of us fans (even the extremely patient ones, who have remained onside for so so long) just want to know.
Because it is increasingly looking as if Marcus Evans left out a crucial sixth point from his Five-Point Plan.
Point 6: Pray.
Please report offensive, libellous or inappropriate posts by using the links provided.
Blogs by Superfrans
Blogs 222 bloggers
Shall We Sing a Song For You?! by Slambo
I am writing this blog to try and gauge interest in starting a dedicated and organised ultra group. I’m a season ticket holder in the North lower and try to start/get involved in singing at matches as much as possible.
Has Mick Found a Formula? by Pickersblue22
On November 22nd, Exeter City were bottom of League Two, bereft of confidence, ideas, and without a home win since April, all the signs were pointing to a season of struggle. A 1-0 win at Leyton Orient that night was the start of an marvellous 12-match unbeaten run, containing 10 wins. That run took them from below the dreaded dotted line to the fringes of the automatic promotion places, and was only ended by defeat in the Devon derby at Plymouth on Saturday.
The Question We're All Asking: Is Relegation a Serious Possibility? by Superfrans
With a pretty horrible run of five matches coming up, I know I’m not the only fan to have serious concerns about the possibility of relegation.
Another Post-Christmas Carol (Nightmare on Portman Street) by dusth
Christmas had passed and the sales, when all good folks looked for a fair bargain, were no longer in full swing. In fact they were over. Poor Mick McCratchitt was still at his desk at old Scrooge's Ticket and Footballing Agency, looking on his iPad at the bargains that might have been when young Tel his assistant brought him a bowl of warm water and a teabag. "This'll cheer you up boss!" "Thanks, old lad," said Mick and plunged his hands into the bowl. It instantly froze.
The Rebuild Conundrum and Inevitable Humdrum by BaltachaFanClub
Regular readers of my posts and occasional blogs will know a few things about me, firstly I am not a kneejerk reaction kind of poster, secondly I have progressed through all the stages of football fan and am now whatever is considered the final stage, where although I still love the game, I have seen it, done it and have gone all 'more important things'.