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Relegation – A Chance to Go Forwards
Written by ElephantintheRoom on Monday, 31st Dec 2018 17:40

In the last decade the constant churn of managers and players has created something of a vacuum at Portman Road. There is a long established disconnect between the club and the community – but more worrying there is now a glaring disconnect between the players and the crowd.

Watching Town during the last knockings of Mick McCarthy’s unpleasant tenure was embarrassing for what was going on in the stands as well as on the pitch.

Paul Hurst, apparently exactly what we all wanted, quickly fell victim to an intolerant crowd – as have his entire group of signings, most of whom must surely be good enough to succeed at this level with the right encouragement.

How would the young Bobby Robson have fared today? He too would be sacked in weeks, driven out by the disconnect between the club and its supporters. Clearly the indignant, intolerant Ipswich crowd of today will not give a young manager three months, let alone seasons to bed in. Nor show patience and encouragement to young players who may not look world beaters immediately.

That means any latter-day Whymarks, Talbots, Lamberts, Harpers who took years to get established would not be given the opportunity today that they had in more patient and enlightened times. Which probably explains why none have emerged in recent years. Where did it all go so badly wrong?

I write this as 2018 fizzles out. The signs are not good. Paul Lambert’s upbeat persona, honeyed words and practiced PR stunts have earned him some extra time, though the Forum on here shows the undercurrent of hate for certain players in the team is vigorously (and irrationally) alive.

Most pundits are enthusing not about young Town players, or how the new signings might be able to gel and fight their way ahead of three useless teams, but of a myriad of short-term duds being yo-yoed in. Most worrying of all, this is how the manager is talking too. It’s another backwards step 10 years in the making.

All because the dreaded spectre of relegation looms large. Third division football! Imagine that? Ooh-er, none of us can. Because unlike the majority of clubs in the league Town haven’t been there in over half a century.

A disaster waiting to happen – so loan in those duds. Stay up at all costs. And do it all again next year. Yet again. Has supporting Ipswich Town really sunk this low? Repetitive mediocrity played out by players who don’t belong here or will be gone next season. What’s the point in that?

Maybe there is another way. The Ipswich way. Is the third division the next step on the road to purgatory? Not according to a rather flourishing Premier League. Over half of Premier League teams have recently been in division three or lower. Clearly it can be and often is a chance to regenerate and gain upwards momentum. Even teams currently at the top of this division, Leeds Utd, Norwich, Sheffield Utd have dipped into division three, some for more than a few years before fighting their way back with a new appreciation of second tier football.

A look at the top of the third division is also quite revealing. Portsmouth and Luton, two teams that have plummeted downwards under dubious ownership, are now in rude health and top the table. Who amongst us cannot say that supporters of both clubs are not now in a better place than Town? Also in the frame are Sunderland, Charlton, Blackpool and Coventry City.

Clearly relegation is good – eventually. If and when Charlton do get back in this division, perhaps it will be a year or two before their own intolerant supporters hound out a manager for ‘taking the club as far as he can’.

Yes, there is one big snag. Marcus Evans. The elusive, offshore owner is not exactly here to nurture a football club – he is here to make money. Relegation means more cost cutting and player sales. And this in an era when players can now be sold whilst they are still at school. Which raises questions about how productive a youth system can ever be for the club in future.

But there are more young, capable players around at the moment than there have been for some years. And a core of players who have already proved more than capable of doing well in the third division.

Josh Emmanuel, a once promising player, has already earned promotion once, but been ignored by three successive managers. The signs, you could argue are good. And all the evidence suggest that the third division would be a cathartic, regenerative experience for the club – and for the supporters.

If Accrington Stanley can do well in division three surely Town can? And look who came up last season – the three teams who were relegated. None of whom were giants. At worst there are new teams to see, new away grounds to visit. And whether Town look up or down in division three they will be doing so on merit – hopefully with their own players.

If Town get relegated this season there will be one big benefit. The intolerant Town crowd who irrationally see the Premier League as their rightful environment (even though Town have been there just five years in the last 30) will look afresh at the Championship as a step up.

And upwards (or downwards) momentum might actually provide that step up on the pitch and off it. That’s the one thing Town have been lacking most of this century. Momentum. Which in turn might reconnect the crowd with the club. Whoever and wherever the owner might be.




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Cakeman added 08:25 - Jan 1
A very good read ElephantintheRoom.
Agree about the constant use of numerous loan players and the starting all over again next season. That is not going to get us anywhere. Paul Lambert mentioned this yesterday too.
I also question the use of the academy. Very few youngsters progress to the first team. Any that really shine will be sold and those that don’t shine that bright are given a ride on the loan out merry go round.
Relegation would be a bitter pill to swallow but it pains me to say that it just could be the only way we shall see progress in the medium to long term.
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DurhamTownFan added 13:39 - Jan 1
Sorry, I see what you’re trying to say but I don’t buy it. We could benarooned in League one for some years. Crowds would fall further, and kids growing up in Ipswich would stay in their Man City and Liverpool shirts for years...

Ask a Coventry fan what they think of League One, or a Sunderland fan if they think relegation from the PL was a good thing.

The things you ask for CAN be achieved in the championship. We just need the owner and manager to want them.
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jayessess added 19:31 - Jan 1
DurhamTownFan - We're basically relegated now anyway, so we'll have to do it in League One whether we want to or not. As it happens, I think we're reasonably well placed to come straight back up, all things considered.

We would still be, even with a substantial drop in attendance, a big club at that level. We won't have a massive wage bill that we suddenly need to cull if we go down because almost all our big earners have already left or have contracts that expire in the Summer (exceptions being Huws and Bialkowski). We have a good bunch of kids with first team experience, none of whom will be on massive wages and some of whom have already thrived at that level. We've also got a handful of other players who know that league. All is not doom and gloom, so long as we can build some enthusiasm for next season.
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hyperbrit added 04:43 - Jan 2
...imo Town should by rights have been relegated years ago and but for a ridiculously delusional fan base living in the past and a jackass of an owner would have been. The inevitable now looms and "better late than never" seems to make more sense daily!!
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parkinshair added 08:12 - Jan 2
According to a comment you made on my blog you said relegation was all but impossible.
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tractorboykent added 11:22 - Jan 2
Agreed that there may be an upside to relegation in terms of clearing deadwood and giving the young players a chance. Clearly this current squad is out of its depth.

Not at all agreed though that much of the responsibility for this season's calamity can be laid at the door of an intolerant crowd. Quite the opposite actually. No team has been as far adrift at the foot of the Championship at this stage of the season in the last 14 years and yet we are still getting 17k home crowds and taking substantial noisy numbers away. The atmosphere - despite everything - is still upbeat. It's a more positive place than it was under MM - when some of the abuse aimed at him was in direct proportion to that issued from him.

When relegation is confirmed, fans can't be realistically accused of impatience or intolerance given what's happened over the last 10 years and its culmination in this final catastrophe.
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DavidDymondSuperfan added 17:40 - Jan 2
With respect, anyone who believes that relegation would be a step forward for the club, also probably believed that Brexit would actually allow for an extra £350,000,000.00 per week to be spent on the NHS...
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shortmarine1969 added 21:21 - Jan 2
Intolerant crowd ??..utter twaddle , we have been paying to watch dire football for seasons , yet still maintain 17k ,ish crowds with a good away support...lay the blame at the feet of a uninterested owner a previous manager that drove a wedge between the supports and the club (along with a useless CEO saying nothing) and then a manager that was totally out his depth and accelerated the process several fold ..but the owner is the biggest issue we have but blaming the fan base..utter tripe..!!
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RoyalAscotBlue added 09:01 - Jan 3
Sorry, I couldn’t really get beyond the first sentence. MM was here for 6 years. How is that constant churn? My opinion is that we should have moved on after his initial contract was up... More churn... We didn’t and we began to steadily slide as a result.

At the end of MM’s time we had a thread bare squad (I have no idea why people keep claiming it was decent) comprised of a few complacent favourites and several long term sick notes. A complete overhaul was required and whoever came in was going to have a mammoth task on their hands.

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geminimustang added 09:35 - Jan 3
MM was hounded out by a vocal minority who were blaming him for the lack of financial support from ME.MM performed miracles on a shoestring.I've no problem with people wanting him out but let's give him some credit.We move on.However,for anybody to suggest that relegation has any benefits is madness.The season isn't over yet.10 points adrift is a lot but it's only a number that means little in early January.ME has the opportunity to save this season with £5-£6M outlay.His call,his train set!Personally,i think relegation isn't certain but the results by the end of January may provide the clue as to what the future holds.Dark times at present,no doubt,but it can be turned around.
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Ftnfwest added 22:28 - Jan 3
I think it’s a fair point and I’m certainly not dreading L1 in particular, what have we been achieving in the championship anyway? Bit unfair on the fans though, I think the general consensus is more we that we wanted something decent to watch allied to an occasional tilt at the prem.
What I’ve found unpleasant is that whilst fans of most teams are allowed to dream a bit about what they’d like to achieve, we seem to have to know our place in the world and not get above our station. Little Ipswich, boring championship club that loses every year to lower or non league sides in the cups. Wasn’t too much to ask for a bit more surely?
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patrickswell added 10:43 - Jan 4
Yet again, another blog that digs at the fans. It’s the fans fault, nothing to do with incompetent managers, lousy players and an owner who makes policy up on the hoof and who dropped the ball during the one period we were competitive under his ownership. Town fans do not see the Premier League ad their birthright, they are annoyed and disheartened at a decade of drift, decline, error and rank incompetence. Hopes and dreams have been steadily crushed over the last ten years, and we’re supposed to sit down, shut up and not complain? Apart from Mick, every one of Evans’s picks has piloted the club into crisis - Hurst did it quicker and more recklessly than anyone else. Borderline competence would give any manager time here, but only one has managed it. That’s why people get angry. Not to mention the fact that those representing us in this relegation fight haven’t shown a lot of fight. I’m sure a number of our current squad will do very well in League One next season, it’s just a crying shame they will have dragged our club there in the meantime.
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geminimustang added 08:48 - Jan 5
patrickswell added 10:43 - Jan 4

I absolutely agree with everything you've said.Surprised you haven't had 50 down arrows in stating support for what MM did.The vocal minority still won't admit they've colluded in creating this mess.
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DurhamTownFan added 12:04 - Jan 6
I’ve changed my mind. We are worse than I thought. This could get messy!
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Yorkshire_Townie added 21:42 - Jan 8
I would NEVER advocate relegation as a good thing - and for us....? It could spell the end, simple as that.
No easy bounce back up. We see ourselves as a pretty big club. Not sure others do. The squad would be decimated - most/all of the young talent would jump ship, leaving us with Hurst's players who were actually 3rd AND 4th tier players, mid aged so unlikely to improve, and as evidenced on Saturday, not gonna batter sides at that level. I genuinely fear relegation in a Coventry/Bradford/pompey scenario.
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Yorkshire_Townie added 21:48 - Jan 8
People trot out those who 'prospered' - scum, Southampton, Leicester -but don't see that it was due to sizable (or massive) investment and a change of owner in those cases that pushed them out of the 3rd tier and through the 2nd level. Yes, they had momentum, but due to players that were stars in the 3rd level or/& players who were playing below their ability level. Would we be the same?? I seriously doubt it. No Ricky Lamberts turning up here in Aug 2019 in the 3rd tier. Wolves & Slumberland still had Prem lge players & parachute money - and the mackems aren't guaranteed to get back up, either...
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Yorkshire_Townie added 22:00 - Jan 8
Swindon, Blackpool & Oldham have also played PL football and ended up in the 4th div. Along with the afore mentioned Bradford, pompey & Coventry. Yes Forest got back up - after several years of struggle & then have done v little until A NEW owner turned up. And lufc??? more owners & managers than you've had hot dinners. They have happened upon a top manager by fluke (Bielsa, who must have been shown a PL league table from 2001 when he signed up to work at Hellend rd), and could yet implode. Would we want to be a yo-yo team? Exciting is 1 way of describing it - constant churn and rollercoaster is another more accurate description.
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Yorkshire_Townie added 22:09 - Jan 8
Fingers crossed that Paul Lambert can dig us out of this mess. Hurst's (backed by evans) mess. I never wanted him, and IF MM was to leave, then if anyone either an internal appointment or I'd have preferred Jack Ross. This isn't wise after the event, just my view throughout 2018-19.
Yes sign the most promising 3rd/4th tier youngsters ala Peterbro' and look to develop/sell them on or let them get us up, but mid 20's players are highly unlikely to all suddenly become world beaters. But do not let your first team players leave until these are bedded in- Garner, Waghorn etc. It's a hell of a punt, and something a Burton might get away with - non-league & grateful for being in any div in football league still. We had (have) higher ambitions.

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Oxford_Blue added 11:26 - Jan 11
I don’t relegation is a chance to go forwards.
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