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No Passion, No Plan, No Identity
Written by u2itfc on Friday, 30th Dec 2016 10:45

It is, of course, part of the human condition that our perception of past events changes over the years. Days of success and enjoyment become ever more rose-tinted, while periods of pain are dulled by the passage of time.

And so it must especially be for any Town fan as long-in-the-tooth as me. Just as no team will ever, in my mind at least, succeed in matching the unadulterated perfection of Bobby Robson’s teams – then equally and oppositely, the dark days of John Duncan’s or Mick McGiven’s (or fill in your own least favourite manager here) tenures are now viewed as temporary aberrations compared to the parlous quality of the entertainment currently being served up at Portman Road.

This time, though, I think we ARE seeing new depths being ploughed at ITFC. Unlike previous periods of footballing recession at the club, there appears to be a complete absence of any plan this time – at all levels.

While the team stumble around on the pitch in apparent darkness, literally chasing fleeting opposition shadows, Mick McCarthy and Terry Connor stand dumbfounded on the touchline like men attempting to provide stadium illumination and direction with a couple of flickering candles in a strong breeze. But worst of all, hovering perennially out of sight, our owner seems implacably unmoved by the spectacle – apparently content that the club’s debts can continue to offset his tax liability.

In the past, depending on your personal point of view, there was SOME cause for optimism. Maybe the team had potential, but was hampered by poor management, or conversely, the team was dire, but management had a strategy. Now we seem confounded on all fronts – it is little wonder that apathy has set in amongst the fans – while the club stagnates, there is literally nothing on the horizon to pin your hopes on, nothing to be proud of, and the only way out of the purgatory of an endless stay in the Championship seems to be an inevitable drop into the third tier – sooner or later. And who will shed tears when that trapdoor finally opens? Yes – us.

I have no doubt that were anyone at the club to ever read this blog, their answer would at least in part include reference to FFP, or to the uneven playing field brought about by parachute payments. And yes – I get that. The latter is one of the biggest iniquities in today’s football. Why no one of substance in English football is making a Wembley Stadium-sized song and dance about the unfairness of this situation can only be because the power to change it lies with the ‘haves’. And the irony that Town have suffered twice over as a result the parachute debacle (first by falling out of the top tier when they were inadequate and then by being the surrounded by the bloody things now they're huge) just makes it worse.

But – Town have always fought against the odds financially. Even in Sir Bobby Robson’s time he had to sell a player before he could buy one. In George Burley’s era he was forced to sell one of his stars every time he met with play-off failure. But both Robson and Burley still managed to progress – the overall trend line on the performance graph continued its upward trajectory.

How did they do this? By sticking to a principle of improving the players they did have at their disposal, developing the youngsters, blending in the experience – and playing the kind of attractive football on the pitch that sold the club to new fans, and potential squad additions.

I see on this site many derogatory comments about George Burley and David Sheepshanks – and as I’ve said, as someone who grew up watching Town in the Robson era, nothing will compare to those teams – but even off the back of one of the worst seasons in the club’s history in 1995 (including the infamous 9-0), Burley and Sheepshanks clearly and publicly set about turning the club around.

They had their famous five-year plan – a plan which could have even been achieved much sooner than it was, were it not for the lottery of the play-offs – and they completed it to the extent that even this website temporarily was renamed (“These ARE The Days”) – not by spending big, but through shrewd management, commitment to the club’s heritage, and by playing an exciting brand of football (if you don’t agree, try watching the YouTube video review of the 1999/00 season - and compare the verve, flair and spirit of that team with what we see today. Even if promotion hadn’t been achieved, we were at least ENTERTAINED!).

What disturbs me most about McCarthy – notwithstanding his dogged attachment to safety-first football – is his apparent ability to wring the spark out of the brightest of stars. Whether they come in from outside (eg Freddie Sears) or through the Academy (eg Teddy Bishop) talented, exciting players sooner or later turn into ‘hard-working’ nobodies who go from being headline-grabbers to barely getting a mention in the match report. Surely the club will find it increasingly difficult to attract both (semi) established professionals and aspiring youngsters. We used to frequently see the quote “Once I heard Ipswich were interested in me I was here like a shot….” – not now.

So where do we go from here? Who knows? I’ve held off writing this, convinced that the signs of stupor at Portman Road are symptomatic of an owner who is keeping his costs down while he looks for a buyer – or that even MM would look at what is happening on the pitch and would (as I would hope any of us who cared about the club would), do the honourable thing and step down.

Maybe as soon as this is published it’ll already be out of date because these things will have come to pass. But I’m concluding that both Evans and McCarthy are more than comfortable with the status quo, and the barren wasteland that Portman Road is becoming will stay that way for the foreseeable future.

The only way I can see things changing for the better is to place the future of the club in the hands of people who truly, and obviously CARE about Ipswich Town Football Club. Whether they’re ex-players or managers, or just aspiring, ambitious football people doesn’t matter – just as long as we see PASSION, a PLAN, and someone at the helm who bleeds blue and white!

Or do I just come from a different footballing era when passion, planning – and an even playing field – could see a club like Town succeed? Before the time when heartless footballing mercenaries took over the beautiful game?

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u2itfc added 10:50 - Dec 30
Just to be clear - this blog was written immediately following the Boxing Day defeat against Fulham.

Blue_Again added 11:25 - Dec 30
Fantastic and well rounded insight into the sad and somewhat flaccid state of the club and fans at the moment.
Unfortunately Evans is now backing McCarthy as stated in another article, so this nightmare is set to continue for the foreseeable future.
Royle managed to construct an exciting football team on a much worse budget than this. There really is no excuse. Time for some serious changes from top to bottom.


HackneyBlue added 13:35 - Dec 30
I like yourself was around the same time and it allows you to appreciate what we had,i too understand things change but no one should be allowed to see the dross that has been available the last 4 years.,I finally could bear no more and me and my 2 sons gave it up this season,they were bored rigid every game win,lose or draw.The club has an almost impossible task of getting us back again,40 years of missing just a handful of matches and now i dont know when theyre playing next.

TR11BLU added 16:12 - Dec 30
Brilliant, well written article. No doubt helps that I agree with every word but I fear the powers that be are oblivious to what is happening under our noses to our once great club.
If McCarthy had one ounce of respect for our club and us fans, he would walk now. History and indeed his oft repeated words tell us otherwise.


braveblue added 16:21 - Dec 30
Good blog. Well said.

northernblues added 17:56 - Dec 30
a great article, more articulate than our play!

judespiveyg added 18:02 - Dec 30
Bit doom and gloom for me (Keane and Jewell's days definitely seemed more woeful and unenjoyable) but you make your point about the 99/00 team well. Yes, they weren't Barca, but to lose 2-1 or 3-2 in an exciting game filled with chances is much less depressing as a 1-0 defeat with no shots on target.

terryf added 18:26 - Dec 30
There maybe better looking Managers around but not as good as me. McCarthy's quote in the EADT today. The man is both arrogant and delusional. A good blog...the bottom line is we just want to see some entertainment.

grubbyoik added 19:17 - Dec 30
And so say all of us..
Most interesting article on this site for years.. and sadly so very true

Edmundo added 20:57 - Dec 30
Time for direct action.We can stand idly by or show passion like we did when the Club was last (mis)managed by A Mc (Given). Show and sound your displeasure in any way you can. 1000s of emails, chants at games, barrack the Directors...

carsey added 23:29 - Dec 30
Excellent blog best thing I have read on here or anywhere else for that matter. It's a pity BBC Radio Suffolk don't put some of these points to McCarthy when they interview him during the week before games instead of sucking up to him.
I too am from the age group that saw Robson arrive and well remember the pre match excitement, the buzz on going into Portman Road and the feeling that we could beat anyone but whatever else happened the team would play entertaining attacking football.
What really concerns me about McCarthy is his arrogance and apparent inability to see what so many others can see is wrong. Why will he not play players in their best position. I can understand in an emergency when there is no other option but Chambers has been playing full back for 3 years and nobody believes he is the best right back at the club and that includes Chambers himself.
Will I renew next season? Yes because I am a supporter but like now I shall be vocal in my dislike of McCarthy if he is still here and the dross he serves up.

MVBlue added 08:32 - Dec 31
Its a sad time. We've now gone full circle, from Jewell's contract mercenaries not caring, to MCarthys failure now. We need to be vocal, we need a change.

heathen66 added 23:54 - Dec 31
Absolutely I agree 100%, excellent blog. even after last nights win
(If it was not so well written my mates would have thought I wrote it :-))
It was not this bad under Keane and from an entertainment perspective it was not this bad even under Jewell.
You do have to go back to the John Duncan era to find a comparison.
As you have correctly pointed out...there seems to be no plan (from the top down) as there was under John Lyall and George Burley. We have always been a selling club, but what we did do was to replace the valuable 'Star' with up and coming talent who unlike today were allowed to flourish and become starts themselves. The only time we moved from this was the signing of Marcus Stewart to finally get us over the line where we had struggled previously. Remember, this was after having to sell Kieron Dyer in the previous summer !!!
What also does not help at all is Micks apparent arrogance and disrespect for anyone who has any other viewpoint.
Players now will not jump at the chance to join ITFC due to the style we play (as back in the day we played attractive football and player knew they would be given a chance to progress their careers), however now there also seems to be a closed shop on many of the positions, so therefore you will only be joining to sit on the bench

blue75 added 09:51 - Jan 1
Glad I'm not the only one who thinks like you. I did my first full season 94/95 got my first season ticket 95/96. So I've had highs and lows this is the lowest!! I also remember Sunderland and wolves teams managed by McCarthy and how my friends and I would say that he'd never come and play us at football. So when he was appointed manager I hoped he'd change his ways but as he's proven that'll never happen. I'm up for any protest against this man he needs to leave our club sooner rather than later.

Bert added 15:35 - Jan 1
A good insightful blog. My only criticism is that Keane was by far our worst ever Manager. Arrogant, socially ignorant and an awful manager of people. Cannot wait for him to return to PR one day so the crowd can really show their disdain for ruining our club.

Vizslaraner added 16:33 - Jan 1
Superbly written and identifies everything that is wrong with the club at the present time. 100% accurate and exactly how a large number of us fans think and feel about the steady demise of our club.

MBG added 06:21 - Jan 2
Excellent blog. ITFC was a special club but sold its soul when its shareholders made up of thousands of fans agreed to the Marcus Evans takeover. There was a lot of short term, simplistic thinking ie. that a wealthy owner would deliver ITFC to the promised land. We discarded all of the traits that made the club punch above its weight for so long. We have only ourselves to blame for falling for what they call "fools gold".

LWNR2013 added 09:25 - Jan 2
Just read that twice. Absolutely nothing I disagree with. Brilliant.

Lightningboy added 11:42 - Jan 2
U2itfc - I could not have put it better - SPOT ON.

You know what is even more embarrassing and depressing than the current state of affairs?'s the fools who clamber to get on here and defend McCarthy following a scraped win at home against the likes of Bristol City with their "seeeeee,told you Mick was the greatest" attitude....utterly clueless.


H1960 added 20:01 - Jan 11
Excellent blog my sentiments entirely
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