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O'Neill: We've Learnt From This Season
Tuesday, 14th May 2019 10:56

Town’s general manager of football operations Lee O’Neill believes the club has learnt from their disastrous 2018/19 season which has seen the Blues drop into the third tier for the first time since 1956/57.

Asked whether Town would be holding a review of where things went wrong during the campaign in which they finished bottom of the Championship picking up only 31 points and five wins, he says that sort of assessment is always continuing.

“Constantly,” he said. “It’s not just now, we’ve been reviewing that process ongoing, when we go through things and have meetings with [Owner] Marcus [Evans], [manager] Paul [Lambert] and the first-team staff, we’ve got a lot to learn very quickly.

“We can’t afford to make some of the errors in not getting the results or the performances that we did this year because definitely the aspiration is to get back as quickly as possible, so we have to learn very quickly.”

Town spent almost two months searching for a new manager last summer only to ultimately name Paul Hurst, who lasted only 149 days in the job, recording just one win in his 15 matches in charge.

Quizzed on whether the failure of that process is worthy of review in itself, O’Neill pointed out that the recruitment of Hurst, who yesterday was named the new manager of Scunthorpe in League Two, was widely welcomed when it was made.

“I think you look at the appointment of Paul Hurst, I think when you look at what Marcus was trying to do when he went out there, everyone in the country was quite pleased with the idea,” he said.

“It didn’t work out and it does happen with managers unfortunately, it doesn’t work out. We had a lot of players that came in at the same time.

“Players again, look at the level of the league, so there are all those things to look at and analyse.

“We’ll be better for what happened this year, we’ve learnt from it and will be putting things in place to stop that from happening or reviewing it all constantly, that’s what we do all the time.

“To say it was the wrong appointment, no, at the time we all thought it was the right decision and Paul gave it his absolute utmost to try and make that work. It was unfortunate that it didn’t work out but these things happen in football.”

Meanwhile, he says another aspect of the club which is subject to ongoing review is the the club’s Portman Road stadium with fans having been critical of the state of areas of the ground, most frequently the roof of the Sir Bobby Robson Stand.

“As part of Marcus’s review and looking at the stadium and how that operates and what is going on here, he’s taking a hands-on view of that and he is aware of areas in which we need to make improvements,” O’Neill added.

“And I think that will be part of a process through the next 12-24 months we’ll look at all of those areas of the stadium and try to make improvements.

“We want make sure that when people come to the stadium it’s an enjoyable experience both on matchday and the performance side of things.

“How we operate in and around the buildings, from when they first come in before the game, what we do out on the [practice] pitch outside, where they get their food from, how they get their food, where they sit, what they see, all of those things we’re looking at in a lot more detail than we’ve ever looked before.”

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cobbolds added 11:18 - May 14
Fixing the hand driers in the toilets would be a start, many haven't worked for years. The state of the stadium has been deteriorating ever since Evans took over, he'll have been aware and has let it slide. Such a shame.

The queues are so long at half-time that I don't even bother to try to get a drink or some food, I bring my own - lost revenue in the area you're supposed to specialise in Marcus, oh dear.

Despite the match day experience being poor I continue to buy my ST in the hope something changes for the better, particularly on the pitch where I think we're over the worst and promotion must be a strong possibility.

I haven't wiped my hands of it all yet. COYB

Suffolkboy added 11:32 - May 14
I was always critical of the lack of management , common sense and practical approach to caring for our paying guests ,as well as the surroundings .LOTS was left undone. ; either our previous MDs didn’t know what or how to act ,didn’t have the funds or didn’t have the power .
At Last there is a tacit agreement that many improvements are both needed and possible .
All power to your elbow Mr O’N.
Let the pride, love and respect we have for OUR club be reflected in the facilities and premises !

runningout added 11:41 - May 14
Our standards have slipped all over the place!

Cloddyseedbed added 12:08 - May 14
Year on year it seems we have not learn't anything and the gradual decline has continued has it not? The owner is top of the tree and I'm afraid he has overseen it all. It seems under funding and the wrong choices of staff have been the cause, a receipe for disaster in any business. Will things change for the better especially now we find ourselves a league lower? I hope so but I'm sorry after supporting the club and witnessing the way things have been going I can't see Mr Evans changing his approach on player recruitment, wages etc. I think we will now be one of the lower funded clubs in the 1st div. I hope not but we've all seen how Mr Evans runs his football club. A shame really, as us the supporters, are such a loyal, passionate lot who to us the club means everything. To Mr Evans, it is just another business in his portfolio.

Bogblue added 12:09 - May 14
what's he doing stood in front of a Christmas tree, has he time travelled back to the future?!

rfretwell added 12:13 - May 14
Well Lee start by vowing to NEVER again let every single regular goalscorer at whatever level are playing at leave the club all at once with no proven replacements brought in. Disastrous naivity by a supposedly experienced management team. Spending so long in the top two divisions let in utter complacency which has cost the club and the owner a packet and embarrassed all Town fans everywhere. All good luck to PL and his team in their efforts to restore the clubs good name and emulate our proud history.

TimmyH added 12:19 - May 14
'Asked whether Town would be holding a review of where things went wrong during the campaign in which they finished bottom of the Championship picking up only 31 points and four wins, he says that sort of assessment is always continuing.' - Bleedin' obvious, if you sell what quality you have and get in a lot of inexperienced players from lower leagues it was always going to be a gamble, what assessment is continuing!?!...Evans plan failed, it really is as simple as that.

terryf added 12:49 - May 14
Fixing the leaks in the roof of the Sir Alf would be a good start and replacing hand driers that only work for 5 seconds with more efficient ones.

When it rains in The Sir Alf it's a case of dodging the drips from the roof and its been like it for many years.

Surely the days of putting up with inadequate toilet areas and massive cues for your hot bovril should be long gone.

Does no one check these things.

AndyGoodchild added 12:55 - May 14
5 wins, wasn't it?

Swansea, Wigan, Rotherham, Bolton and Leeds

JewellintheTown added 12:56 - May 14
Still cant fathom why some people can't understand that if a player wants to leave and the buying clubs want to pay their current club big money, it makes no sense for the club to force them to stay and play and affect their performance negatively. They're people, not assets you can mentally & emotionally control. That's a big difference to the club "wanting" to sell them. Not nice to us, I know, but you have to do the best you can with what's dealt to you. Life sucks but the club dealt with it best they thought they could at the time without the benefit of hindsight. Move on!

runningout added 13:11 - May 14
I’m afraid Mr O’Neill we seem to have the ability NOT to learn from our booboos. Rather paint over the cracks with Ropey PR speak

Orraman added 14:22 - May 14
Regarding ground improvements, I am perfectly happy with toilet facilities and hand driers in the East of England stand. The one thing I would like to see improved is the PA system. I sit near the press box and for years have been unable to decipher any announcements made. Surely this can be improved with modern digital audio technology not costing a fortune.

clint_eastwood added 14:37 - May 14
Yeah, what have we learnt! Try not to gamble on buying players and hiring managers from the league they're not experienced in.

BeattiesBackPocket added 16:46 - May 14
Jewellinthecrown why don’t people like yourself see WHY players want to leave? Because we will not pay that wages and when you have such a poor wage budget 3rd lowest in the league then why would you want to stay at a club with no ambition. I keep saying on here we don’t need to spend millions it doesn’t guarantee success however a decent wage budget could. People bang on about Norwood he’s more of a better risk than the others we’ve bought because the guys always scored goals but we won’t get him because another club will pay more. Gibson’s worth about one eight of Evans but makes them competitive. More successful team more people through the turnstiles more food and drink sold more programmes sold more shirts sold simple!
I get sick of people coming out from the club saying ‘we’ve learnt from mistakes’ they’ve been making same maistakes for ten years under Evans ffs If my dog s**ts on the carpet and I tell him off he stops doing it these guys just keep doing it and everyone is okay with it ‘don’t loan at poor mr Evans unless you have someone else’

LondonTractor added 16:47 - May 14
O'Neill seems to be talking sense and has a genuine passion. I hope he carries it through. Marcus Evans seems to be sleepwalking if you ask me. The club has been stuck in a rut for years and MM worked miracles to get us a mid-table finish year after year. Look at the clubs in the Championship who we are now light years away from due to being so blinkered. The whole club is treading water at best... there is clearly something wrong with our training facilities given the amount of serious injuries we have incurred, but aside from that the club needs dragging into the 21st century generally, rather than being the same old sleepy Ipswich Town. We must be one of the only 30,000+ stadiums without digital advertising boards, we must be one of the only 30,000+ stadiums without large screens at each end of the pitch, we must be one of the only 30,000+ stadiums to still have 1970's dugouts, we must be one of the only 30,000+ stadiums to still be using what looks like a temporary ticket office, and don't even get me started on the 'Ipswich Town Football Club' sign on the top of the Cobbold Stand!!! That may as well be in an Old English font written by Charles Dickens!! Lets inject some modernness and enthusiasm into the whole place. I hope O'Neill recognizes all of these faults and failures and brings some urgency and awareness to the club. I like O'Neill and I think Lambert will do a decent job, but Marcus Evans is living in an time capsule. Wake up guys - on AND off the pitch!!!

ScottCandage added 19:52 - May 14
I think he forgets - we dithered around with Jack Ross for so long that we let Sunderland steal a march on us and they bagged him. Then our other targets were gone, so Hurst was chosen. They spun Hurst well, and he was accepted. But It wasn't as clean as LON makes it seem.

jazee1969 added 19:57 - May 14
The PA system in the North stand lower is non existent ! Regardless of the crowd noise they just don't work. Annoying!

PhilTWTD added 20:31 - May 14

Yes, of course, five. Amended. Got rather used to writing four in the final weeks.

herfie added 21:04 - May 14
Call me a cynic, but I always treat the ‘lessons will be learned’ mantra with a sharp intake of breath: when trotted out by politicians, or NHS managers reacting to some sad event, it becomes a matter of platitudes leading to nothing much will actually change.

In our case, however, there are lessons stretching back for years that need to be taken account of. In truth they inevitably reflect major decisions made by ME; levels of investment both on playing staff and physical infrastructure and how, over, a ten year period, we have been in slow decline. The most significant ingredient in any lessons learned exercise must be honesty, and a willingness to confront everything and everybody.

Bluearmy_81 added 09:46 - May 15
Learnt that penny pinching and under investing doesn't serve us well?!! Hope so!!

fistpumpfury added 20:21 - May 15
The whole club has gone down in standard in the past 10 years.
The ground is tired and needs serious tlc.
The facilities are league one so we’ll be ok there.
The catering is second rate and overly priced.
The atmosphere is muted (to be expected since the decline began after Joe Royle left).
The under investment is so obvious to all except the management.
I’m afraid we’re entering a period of serious decline.
If we’re still in league one in two seasons time I’ll believe that’s progress as talk of a promotion next season is about as believable as Brexit at the moment.
This club has reached its potential.....very sad.

pennblue added 08:17 - May 16
This Lee O'Neil looks like the real deal. Finally, we have someone competent in this position.

Warkys_Tash added 22:03 - May 16
I like Lee O'Neil, seems like the eqivaent to the Chief Exec Norwich had a few years back who was instrumental with Lambert in building back their club.

However, its not yet a lesson learnt but a lesson identified. It will only be confirmed as learnt if they dont make the same mistakes again - Next season's success will be a good measure of that..

Warkys_Tash added 22:07 - May 16
Lee better food and drink options - more staff, more conters open for starters... Not running out of hot food constantly!

Ipswichbusiness added 13:25 - May 17
It is a very long time since I was last at Portman Road. However, if the toilets/hand driers need to be repaired or replaced then that should be possible for the expenditure of a few hundred pounds. That they are not prepared to pay attention to detail is worrying.

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