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[Blog] Is This Club Rotten From Top to Bottom?
Written by Steve_M on Sunday, 21st Aug 2011 10:38

Twelve goals conceded in two matches? Unfortunately it doesn’t take too long to remember when that last happened - on March 4th and 8th 1995. The second was a 3-0 defeat at Spurs.

At least then the remedy was in place, a young manager who knew what he wanted to achieve and managed to turn that abysmal relegation side into the highest scoring team in the country the following season with the sole addition of Gus Uhlenbeek!

And just as it was unfair to blame George Burley completely for those two defeats it is not quite right that Paul Jewell takes the entire blame for the mess left to him by his two immediate predecessors and the hierarchy at the club.

The sad truth is that Ipswich Town Football Club is a mess from top to bottom. From an owner who must be wondering how much of his money he could possibly recover, to a chief executive learning about football incredibly slowly, a succession of players who can not seem to manage the basics of the game or even concentrate for more than a couple of minutes at a time, down to a sizeable minority of fans who appear to revel in their own imbecility.

First and foremost on the charge sheet is a lack of strategy; there hasn’t been one since the Marcus Evans takeover. At least before that there was one to let Jim Magilton slowly build a side; it would have run into problems with the inevitable need to sell promising players, but it was something most fans could understand.

Instead the dominant feature of the last three and a half years has been throwing money at relatively expensive, but mediocre, players with little thought as to the outcome. That has been five different sets of players in as many seasons with big rebuilds every summer - so far to little great effect.

It is impossible not to sit and admire Swansea’s approach of choosing a style of play and appointing managers that can suit that style. It is an approach that has seen incremental, rather than wholesale, change despite two changes of manager in as many years. In contrast I have not been able to discern a consistent approach to team selection from any of Magilton, Roy Keane or Jewell individually, let alone between the three of them.

Add to that the complete absence of a scouting network. Since Burley’s time as manager it’s hard to think beyond the unfortunate Luciano Civelli for a player we’ve signed who was not readily known to the manager or coaching staff (Vemund Brekke Skard was surely not actually a footballer, so doesn’t count).

The mess that Magilton and Keane made with Evans’s money could fill a blog or two on their own but a preponderance of midfield trundlers each proving little better than the one he replaced - the impact Jimmy Bullard had reflects the fact that he stood head and shoulders above any midfielder we have had at the club since Sylvain Legwinski.

Keane’s much vaunted demand for ‘characters’ has been shown up time and time again by each and every feeble capitulation with the squad he left every bit as mentally weak as the relegation sides of 1995 and 2002.

Which brings us to Paul Jewell. With the addition of Bullard he achieved his primary objective for last season and kept the club in this division but several comprehensive defeats as the season wound down highlighted the size of his task.

On the plus side many of his signings look positive - Michael Chopra, Aaron Cresswell and Keith Andrews all look good players - but the gaping holes on the right hand side of defence needed a better stop-gap than a defender who spent most of last season injured. That Gareth McAuley would leave in the summer was inevitable, so to let his understudy, Troy Brown, also move on to a League Two side was careless in the extreme. In fact it is more than that, it was negligent.

The problems run deeper than the defence though, the midfield has been as big a disaster for several seasons now. With a few exceptions, three managers have sent out midfields that can neither protect the defence - unless playing two players directly in front of the back four - nor support the strikers, let alone keep possession of the ball.

Twice in a week, Jewell has sent a side out with obvious midfield weaknesses, twice in a week we have been comprehensively outplayed by sides newly promoted from League One. Clearly success breeds confidence, but we appear to be so bad that simple passing and movement befuddles us completely - yet we do not seem capable of attempting the same ourselves.

It is not just about the failings and limitations of individual players, although we can all see enough evidence of those. What are our coaches doing to stop players making the same mistakes game after game? Have we actually practiced defending as a team?

We seem to have been 'a couple of players short' for nearly four years now and yet each additional signing seems to fall to the mean level of performance after a promising start. Does the availability of a transfer budget prevent managers trying to develop players when they think an easier solution is just round the corner?

It is too early to judge Jewell with the transfer window not due to close until the end of the month but four straight defeats, especially in this manner, gives cause for concern that his experience at Derby could be repeated here. Just like here, he took over a mess of a squad from an overrated predecessor but failed miserably to turn it round.

My real concern is greater than that though; say Jewell does not last the season what decent manager would want to come to a club that looks in such a mess? A club where fans turn on the manager and players almost as quickly as they hero-worshipped them when they arrived? A club where the owner and chief executive, despite very successful careers, are apparently unable to create a proper strategy, let alone implement one.

Having sacked a manager who had been moderately successful but showed signs of inexperience, a tendency to fall out with players and poor judgement in the transfer market, few would see the ideal replacement as a man criticised for exactly those failings at his previous club.

Having made a clear mistake in appointing Keane, a firm decision should have been taken at the end of his first season - either to sack him or to let him buy the players he wanted. Muddling through has brought us to the mess we are in now.

I keep hearing people suggest that perhaps relegation would be a good thing, presumably based on the way Norwich have bounced back. For every club that has managed to do that though there is a Swindon, an Oldham, a Bradford or even a Luton who probably never will.

Even clubs as big as Nottingham Forest and Leeds took several seasons to return to second tier football. At the moment with a fanbase rapidly losing affection for the club and a coterie of expensive players, there is a real danger of us following the later course rather than the former.

In which case what does Marcus Evans do about his investment? One of the things that successful business people tend to understand is when to cut their losses. Relegation might well be a good time. The consequences of that really do not bear too much thinking about.

Of course, I have created something of a straw man and two good central defenders and a footballing midfielder could turn things around. Well make us a reasonable mid-table side anyhow but it feels as though the club is on something of a precipice at present.




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vestanpance added 11:05 - Aug 21
Yes.
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BeattiesBeerGut added 11:09 - Aug 21
If I'd written a blog, it would have made exactly the same points. It's saddening - I no longer take pleasure in watching us.

The question is - ME is a businessman - and his 'customers' are walking away - what is he going to do to get them back ? If will he sell to a 'footballing' owner instead, deciding to cut his losses ?
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Mossy added 11:14 - Aug 21
Excellent Blog.
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PSGBlue added 11:14 - Aug 21
Excellent Blog, its not just what goes on, on the field but behind the scenes. Behaind the scenes is where the real problems lie!
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Marshalls_Mullet added 11:17 - Aug 21
I think due to ME and Cleggs lack of football knowledge, PJ probably feels like he is running the whole club and not just the team.

We need football people at the top.

Sheepy had been on the board 8 years before taking the top job.
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pazelle added 11:19 - Aug 21
Jewell's had 8 months, countless signings, he inherited some decent players low in confidence and did nothing with them except imply that they were for sale and not good enough, scouted prem/champ teams only, hired mates as coaches from a lower standard than Blue Square Prem, offloaded Kiwomya, Brown, Eastman, Fulop.

In fact, apart from signing Bullard, Chopra, Cresswell, Ingimarsson and Andrews, he's done nothing but damage for me.

Burley back asap! The club needs a lift - and what Burley did here first time round cannot be overlooked! He could get the current squad winning trust me x
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Daleyitfc added 11:33 - Aug 21
Excellent blog. Can't disagree with any of that. I was one of the handful of shareholders who voted against the Evans Group and its money taking over the club, precisely because I anticipated the problems it would cause : Magilton, Keane and now Jewell have all shown poor judgement in spending millions of pounds, not just on transfer fees but too-high wages, and none of them have come close to achieving what Joe Royle managed when money was pouring OUT of the club.
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stonojnr added 11:35 - Aug 21
PJ picks the team, sets the tactics, you can blame previous managers (magilton and keane IMO) for not excelling and leaving a mess behind. but PJ isnt turning the club around, he seems to be just making it an embarrassment to be a town supporter, we carry on at this rate we will get relegated, heavy defeats and the way the team respond to them its more than just weve got mediocre players in the team
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blaggers added 11:39 - Aug 21
Excellent post.
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John added 11:55 - Aug 21
Excellent blog, what i've been saying for a while. Ultimaely, we are a business and a business without a strategy, realisable goals or a plan for long term growth is doomed to failure. The only strategy, such as it is, from PR is we want to be in the prem. thats pie in the sky talk,any chairman in the land could say that it's how you go about achieving it within the framework of your business that is the issue. As you state swansea is a very good example, they never compromised long term strategy for short term pick me ups, everyone could see their ethos. For a successful businessman ME doesn't seem to have an idea of how to grow the business. The academy is providing diminishing returns (i think its the first season in 20 odd yrs we didn't start the campaign with a home grown player in the starting 11). ME doesn't have the finances to pour in enough money to make the club a vanity toy a la Russian oligarchs or sheikhs. Therefore has to run as a business and I don't see how this is being achieved in the long term if he is still financing a shortfall in turnover, if he pulls the plug on that I shudder to think.
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Keaneish added 12:07 - Aug 21
Couldn't agree more, especially with regard to the coaching and the capitulation of concentration in midfield and woeful defending. This is a very, very big week at our club. I can only hope that we sign at least 4 players ahead of Saturday because to give a handful of those players who played yesterday another chance would be a crime. Another heavy defeat at home to Leeds and we know we're really in trouble...

There are a whole host of players sat in the lower leagues who could admirably fill the gaping holes we have. Have we been too ambitious and gone for premier league experience to be rebuffed time and time again with a clear ambition of putting bums on seats?

I can only hope and pray the leadbitter deal was tied up before yesterday. Never have a witnessed such a disgraceful performance from a town midfielder. The question has to be asked....why was he given the armband?


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Lightningboy added 13:25 - Aug 21
Spot on,SPOT ON.

Our club is just about unrecognizable from the one we had before ME took over..it's just been a case of throwing a barrowload of good money at a string of very,very average players...a case of these one's aren't up to the job,let's buy some more..it's quite frankly,sickening..I for one was happy with what Jim was doing here before the cash started being thrown about.

We are at a crossroads now..it's early days this season but unless Jewell can go out over the next 10 days and bring in at least 2 defenders (who can defend),and a striker who can hold the ball up (preferably one with a footballing brain)..then I think this season is going to be all about avoiding the drop.

We need to forget about the premiership - it's not about that anymore for me - STUFF the premiership!..I want my club to get back to it's old values again - a great youth set-up & a decent scouting network..playing attractive attacking football whilst being fairly solid at the back..bringing in the odd freebie along the way,players who become fans favourites ala Reuser,Counago,Wilnis etc.

We need to either back Jewell to do this OR we cut our losses & bring back George Burley,give him a 5 year deal (minimum) and let him put some pride & common sense back into this club..let him rebuild like he did first time around..it's a massive job & chucking money at it isn't going to be the long term answer.

Like I said,sod the prem..this is bigger than that.
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jas0999 added 15:09 - Aug 21
Great Blog and yes it is. It would be wrong to simply blame PJ, although from day one I thought he would be a very poor appointment. You are only as good as your last job and for him that was Derby - where most of their fans blame him 100% for ruining their club. His failure to strengthen in the right areas over the Summer is bitterly disappointing and the signings of Ellington, Bowyer and Ingermarsson look to be bad ones.

But having an owner who is constantly hiding is not good. However, he has bailed this club out financially and it's clear he has made money available for transfers - but having little football experience meant it was inperative that he brought in an experience football CEO and this is a key failure. Clegg is hopeless. End of.

Look at our transfer activity over the Summer - just fees agreed for JET and Chopra - the latter was agreed when Clegg was on holiday. Countless times we have failed to land our targets. Roy Keane did little to improve our club and on the whole got many things wrong, but his comments about Clegg seemed to be accurate - working with Clegg I imagine is frustrating and difficult. PJ is also finding out the hard way that wanting a player and Clegg actually getting them are two different things. However, PJ is also guilty of targeting unrealistic players.

On the whole it is a sorry mess. Why on earth ME ignored Harry Redknapps advice and didn't appoint another manager is beyond me. PJ is so wrong for this club - but then again so was Roy.

I really don't know where we go from here! Attendances as I predicted - under Jewell - will continue to decrease. Can ME afford to get rid of him. Time will tell. For me, PJ shouldn't have been appointed in the first place - now I live in hope that he, along with Clegg will be sacked - sooner rather than later. Either way ME has to stand up to the plate.
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BongoSponglemeister added 15:47 - Aug 21
Excellent blog indeed. After the drubbing by Peterborough, Jewell was once again talking about Bullard being a target. Whilst he is an excellent player, I'm not so sure he's going to be the answer, a stop-gap maybe. We now look a million miles away from 'a couple of additions will sort it out'.

I could kind of see what Keane was trying to achieve, but he never had the personnel to implement it. Perhaps PJ is going the same way.
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itfckenty88 added 17:04 - Aug 21
Great blog.. I agree with this alot, and it seem alot of other agree too! speaking to my dad the other day, and he used to work for Ipswich as a coach there in the academy.. he stated that since Evans has taken over things have gotten worse by the minute. he left because of these reasons as he felt he wasnt getting the funds and support to keep the academy going. he spoke to evens rep once and and they seemed not that interested.

he stated they took away funds which is why our youth isnt as good as it used to be, and also they shut down certain areas of town which isnt helping.

unfortunately Evans treats this as a business and not a football team. and its not even a good business. maybe its time for him to sell up to someone who understands how important this team is to the fans and everyone else.
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HolbrookBlue added 17:55 - Aug 21
Excellent blog and good to see thought being applied from a Town fan.

Hopefully all will get behind the team next Saturday.

Diffucult to predict a team / line up for Saturday at present. If Deadline day passes with no additions we will be in trouble. Paul Jewell has dug himself into a hole - can he esape from it?
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cardinal_dom added 18:28 - Aug 21
Excellent and well though out blog, hopefully my thoughts are of similar vain.

I'm a fan of ITFC but haven't been to a game for several years due to cost and work committments. However, each season starts with the thought that maybe, just maybe, this would be the year to catapult us back to the premiership.

It may well be that is the goal for ME and all involved in the club but it seems that there is just something lacking within the club at the moment, that has been there for a few years.

Before ME we at least were a club that competed for the playoffs but since the money arrived it seems that the people in power think that we're a "big club" who should be in the top division and the Championship is below them.

Hopefully, the results of the last few weeks will be a real wake up call because I'm scared for ITFC. The players need to look inside and decide to actually show up and play, the coaches need to get the basics right in training and then the execs need to formulate a proper strategy rather than just "we want to be in the premiership".

Swansea, and Norwich, can point to the right way to do things at a club without spending huge amounts of cash on players, the whole club works together to get to the same goal. Get the right people coaching and managing the team, get the right players who are committed to the team. Something that I don't believe we have at the moment. Which is such a shame for a once very proud club.

The way I see things, although I could be wrong, in terms of players is that we need a couple of centre halves, who want to defend, a midfielder who can break attacks down and protect the back 4 and a target man up front. All points made before me.

More importantly a pride and determination for all in the club and especially the players, not to let this club become more of a laughing stock.
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Radlett_blue added 20:27 - Aug 21
Despite PJ's frenetic transfer dealings, we still lack a right back, a centre back & a target man. Only 1 goalkeeper of standard, who could be recalled.
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Illinoisblue added 04:40 - Aug 22
On. The. Money.
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Harry_Palmer added 08:28 - Aug 22
Nail.on.head.
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sonian_blue added 11:10 - Aug 22
Excellent blog very well written and agree 100%.
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lowtit added 11:15 - Aug 22
very astute -
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Blue041273 added 13:04 - Aug 22
Actually this is one of a number of excellent articles on this forum that rationally set out a number of viewpoints without resorting to the hyperbole that we might have expected in the wake of two humiliations in less than a week.

As Harry Palmer said - Nail on head.
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dizbon added 12:02 - Sep 23
have been defending PJ and the team but after saturdays performance that has stopped.
a lack luster perfomance and again it reminds me of when keane was manager. ellington must of thought he was playing rugby. and to put a defender on in the dying minutes of the game.
I don't expect to get any points from the next two away games and to be on sky the next home game with the form they are in (god help us)
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