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Viewpoint: Bolton Wanderers 30/07/22
at 17:56:18

Hmm - this is the third division and Town have contrived to get nowhere near a play-off challenge three years in a row which is pathetic really, given the advantages they have frittered away.

One thing you seem to forget is that McKenna was here last season - as was Ashton. The suicidal way the club dismembered a team on the edge of the play offs before Cook demoralised it was entirely down to Ashton’s misguided arrogance.

You’d do well to remember McKenna essentially made no improvement to Town’s mid-table stature - if anything he made them slightly worse by neutering the attack as two very ordinary clubs scampered to promotion and a very poor Sunderland team scooped the play-off lottery.

I’d also argue that the one area Town really have to improve - and really cannot fail to improve is against the promoted clubs. This year’s crop are perhaps a weaker bunch - so maybe Town might even beat one or two of them.

Finally and perhaps most importantly McKenna seems to have worked out there are two sides to a football pitch - and he seems willing to try using the left hand side of the pitch. Indeed the somewhat expensive and inexperienced Davis is something of a major gamble that shows how McKenna thinks this season can be different

You seem to appreciate that half a dozen new players is a bit of a problem in that the team will be somewhat chaotic for a few games as they find their feet - or get discarded.

And one point against Bolton cannot be seen as a point dropped when Town couldn’t compete with Bolton last season. It’s progress of sorts.
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McKenna's Marvellous Hybrid Formation
at 20:27:47

Hmm. I think you are overegging it. How Town play depends on how the opposition are playing and whether they score.

At least you didn’t mention clean sheets before I got bored and stopped reading
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Town Rebuff Simpson Offers
at 16:22:55

You never know McKenna might actually play him, especially with 5 subs to play with. Can’t be worse than playing another reject on loan - and could be hugely beneficial. Be a change to see a home grown striker succeed at Town rather than Huddersfield or Posh
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Former Blue Downes Close to Palace Move
at 09:51:29

Thé Town career of Downes is an interesting microcosm of why Town have been in catastrophic decline. Foisted out on loan to Luton whilst long gone duds were signed instead. Ignored - and then driven out allegedly in a head-butting session when Dyer mediated a meeting with Cook. And lest we forget, Ashton would happily have seen the back of Woolfenden too for a similar bunch of peanuts
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Lessons to Be Learned From Last Season
at 14:19:17

Interesting piece - but I think you’re overegging it. Town effectively wrecked their chances last season before a ball was kicked. Getting rid of a team that was (at least in league position) quite a bit better than last season’s team - bearing in mind a play-off place was possible with just a modicum of common sense when Cook arrived before his actions which were both insane and done with the full backing of your man Ashton. Simply not buying anyone at all this close season would probably have been a huge step forward as the players actually know each other now - and where Ipswich is. I agree with your thoughts on a too defensive line up and the apparent obsession with clean sheets. I’d add that the teams that were in the play off places last season don’t look as good, the teams coming up and down don’t look too worrying - and McKenna hopefully understands 3rd division football. I’d also hope the vast number of subs allowed might tempt him to try promoting youth. Flies in the ointment are that McKenna will be headhunted if Ipswich look good and the franchisees have clearly tightened the financial thumb screws after last year’s ineptitude and wholesale staff changes. And I don’t recall many Town fans being overly enamoured with Championship football if and when Town go up to a division where at least 15 teams think they belong in the Prem.
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The Cashless Debate
at 07:32:51

People tend to forget that large numbers of people have never used the internet, dont have access to it and don’t have mobile phones. And there’s a charge for ‘cashless’. And it’s easier to charge more because you don’t see your money evaporate. It may be the future here today - but it only works when the technology does. Here in southern France people have more time. I watched in amazement as an elderly couple slowly bought a few bits of fruit and veg off the market and paid by cheque. Later I was queuing in the boulangerie and they lashed out on half a baguette. Each time they were treated with respect, patience and good humour. And by the electropayment gizmo was a little note - minimum purchase 5€ - to cover the cost of using it
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Former Forward Clarke Dies
at 21:17:52

Ahem - Jimmy Robertson signed from Arsenal. I think he moved on to Stoke. The transformation Frank Clarke made to the team showed that ‘20 goal a season strikers’ aren’t necessarily the answer. At least he had a good innings - Town strikers from that era such as John O’Rourke, Mick Hill and Ron Wigg are long gone. RIP - many great memories including goals in fine wins and Man U
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Who Are You? Where Are You?
at 06:21:51

Good luck in your mission. I thought this blog would be about where supporters live and why/when they became attached to Town. My ex-brother in law used to live in Utrecht and he combined visits to Portman Road with visits to famiy and research for what passed as a job - writing obscure tomes on English Lit. Mind you his dad was a director of Crystal Palace and he was a member of both Lords and Surrey, so a useful bloke to know. I’m intrigued you’re enthused by what Town have become - essentially a franchise completely at odds with what the club was when you first started following it from afar.
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The Gamechanger Paradox
at 14:10:58

Crikey. I hope you’re not going to be disappointed by who Town eventually sign! I have a slightly different take - a club bought with borrowed money that has gone backwards in the table to such an extent that two recently destitute clubs have cruised past them in Wigan and Bolton. I somehow doubt there’s much spare cash hanging around - and I suspect so far Schwarz is singularly unimpressed Maybe the few successes of Town’s self mutilation at the end of last season show where the value is. A goalie bobbing here, there and everywhere on loan A winger getting relegated to the nether regions of French football with no goals and no assists all season A central defender lurking on the fringes of a Scottish team. Burns. None of these seemed obvious signings this time last year. The success of Keane at Wigan shows how quickly things can change too. Maybe Norwood guarantees promotion for some destitute club. Don’t overlook the success of Woolfy, Donacien and Jackson either - there may actually be some improvement from within.
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The M Word
at 17:18:41

ChickenstoChurchmans. Indeed and that precision trademark John O’Rourke header in the first game back against Wolves. It’s kind of weird to think that when that team rose to the top division it was still less than a decade since Town had won the league (and England were world champions) . Now it’s 30 years since Town won the second division. That in itself show how far the club has sunk
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The M Word
at 10:36:06

Ah - someone with a similar perspective as my good self. Thoroughly enjoyed that - thanks for taking the time to write. I’m not sure supporters of a younger persuasion have any idea of what it is like to support a team that actually represents Ipswich I think you could expand your great days to include Bill Mcgarry - he of the O’Rourke and Morris signings and John Lyall. Both had the common sense to build on what they already had and won their division in double quick time. The uncomfortable reality is Town have won nothing since Lyall left if you admit the play off final is a trophy for coming 3rd, even if you came 4th,5th or 6th.

And I’d almost forgotten the excitement generated when Ivan Mauger and Bellevue or Christer Loqvist and the Poole Pirates were at Foxhall

Alas we are now in different times. The reasons some football parasites have persuaded some American chancers to invest borrowed money in Ipswich is nothing to do with Ipswich, nor indeed the support (though every $ helps when things aren’t going to plan) it’s more to do with global and US television rights and internet sales. In other words ‘new customers’ so you need to hype up the project to appeal. I suspect the same is true of many if not most current Ipswich Town supporters. Nobody under the age of thirty has any idea of what it meant to support a successful football club. Nobody much under retirement age takes pride in the transition from 2nd division champs to coming within spitting distance of winning the league largely on home grown players (though somewhat distressingly, Derby, Forest and Villa seized chances when they appeared).

I wrote a similar piece about the absurdity of Town thinking themselves a big club and I’m sure that until this delusion is shattered they’ll remain also rans in the 3rd division. Sunderland suffer from this delusion too - they’ve been a rubbish club my entire life give or taken a surprise cup win - and they too are struggling much as Leeds did before them.

The thing is time and geography have caught up with Ipswich. When they eventually emerge into the daylight of the championship (where lest we forget supporters were generally frustrated and angry that other clubs were far more successful) the same problems remain. Town seem to modelling their latest incarnation on ‘moneyball’ which alas can’t be successful for everyone. Indeed it seems to speed decline at a small Town club if Barnsley are anything to go by. Maybe Ashton should change tack and take a closer look at Luton and Huddersfield.
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Six Inducted into Hall of Fame
at 12:41:20

Good of aging Prog Rocker Brinsley Schwarz to come all the way from Ohio. The criteria for Hall of Fame status must be pretty thin if Kevin O'Callaghan qualifies - a perennial substitute bought as 'one for the future' by Bobby Robson - a future that never arrived. Mind you, one of those five goals was against Aberdeen in Town's disastrous defence of the UEFA Cup.... fame of a sort.
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The Opportunity to Build Bonds
at 09:55:20

Interesting and thought-provoking read that mirrors much of my own experience, albeit starting eighteen years earlier. I must admit that as my brothers moved away and it was just me and my dad watching Town that I noticed a bit of role reversal at play. As a pensioner he became almost childlike in his enthusiasm - and due to his declining eyesight he often depended on me to tell him who scored - whereas fifty years previously he had to tell me what was going on because I couldnt see through the people standing in front of me. When he passed away, somewhat suddenly I used to combine matchday with weekly visits to my mother while her health declined - which rather coincided with the club becoming in very poor health too. Having moved away myself and grown somewhat detached from what the club had become, my enthusiasm for watching at Portman Road became somewhat tainted by my own personal loss and what the club now was - and is - compared to what my dad and i experienced for over forty years. In many ways I'm rather glad that living in a different country now gives me the excuse not to go. I hope you come to terms with your loss and continue to enjoy the matchday experience. But for many, if not most supporters the match day ritual is a transitory experience as family or location means we find better (or other) things to do - but everyone's footballing life is laced with personal memories, good bad - and very bad, which never fade. My big regret about the changing face of football is that it became impossible to saunter in amongst the other team's supporters in away games. We used to enjoy the chats you could have with opposing supporters who ineitably seemed to admire Ipswich Town as a football club - which seems such a shame that it has now become a franchise for opportunists..
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The Swinging Sixty
at 12:48:43

Thanks for the various comments and corrections - the blog was written from rose-tinted memory whilst isolating with Covid - but Forest winning the division after coming 3rd seems even more extraordinary.. I know what ChrisFelix means about Sir Alf being lucky - and Robson being unlucky - even John Cobbold intoned as much in a moment of presumably drunken exasperation. I suspect the reasons for the seemingly never ending injuries in Robson's teams go a bit deeper than just luck. Both Ramsey and Robson assembled teams rich in characters - but I suspect the players took fewer liberties with Ramsey - possibly they couldn't afford to as there's only so much you can get up to on a night out on a bicycle. Similarly those Villa players had to answer to the fearsome Ron Saunders - which might go some way to explainging their luck with injuries compared to Town. I also think the the effects of European ties were quite debilitating back in the day - another advantage for Alf Ramsey - at least in 61-62 - and Villa.
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Five Reasons to Be Optimistic and Five Reasons to Remain Cautious
at 09:35:09

Interesting read. I think you could be a bit more pessimistic about “backers with deep pockets”. The cowboys from Arizona have very shallow pockets - and buying the club with borrowed money has given them precisely 5% of the club - the same as ‘the now departed Marcus Evans’. You might also include geography and economics in your pessimism - Ipswich is an isolated low population area with poor transport links - and is projected to get worse in future decades. On the plus side that massive gap to the heroic heights of six place is not as big as it looks because the clubs above will be playing each other every week.
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Can Ipswich Town Still Make the Play-Offs?
at 10:51:12

Good article the missing piece in your fact based analysis is change of ownership - and who came up or down to make promotion easier or more difficult. Maybe get be interesting to see the effect of player stability or otherwise. The likes of Leicester and Bournemouth had a core of third division in the Prem - if you want to dream on
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Horse Named After Blues Legend to Make Debut
at 10:45:29

Risky name for an injury prone nag.
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Another New Manager, Another New Gamble
at 11:59:33

I agree with Europablue that the appointment of McKenna makes this an interesting read with hindsight. It's quite a sartling,, even brave appointment given the club's long term flirtation with experienced and set in their ways managers. I doubt anyone knows much about McKenna and I presume he has a pretty thick skin because he's going t need it. His yes man is an interesting, if not unique figure too - not many accountants go into coaching. I wonder if he charges by the hour? I'm sure he'll face a rocky start simply because he is so young and there are so many rootless players at the club, many of whom are pining for Cook. Hopefully Ashton will stand by his man. Personally I will be amazed if there is ay great iprovement from the motley crew this year - and there are some pointless loans that will depart (again), two of them in fairly key positions. Most of all I hope there is some joined up thinking between the academy and the first team. Maybe even a five year plan to remind people that this is a long term project.... for four months anyway.
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Another New Manager, Another New Gamble
at 09:30:36

Interesting read. The only other successful manager in the last forty years (excluding Burley, who destroyed the club) was John Lyall - and he like Joe Royle was not entirely welcomed by the 'ultras' either. In the age before social media the North Stand 'faithful' lustily sang "Robson, Robson you must go!!!" which succinctly summarises the idiocy of deluded supporters - and how little they should be listened to.

You are right that Robson was thrid choice... John Cobbold tried to get Billy Bingham, then Southport manager three times - but he refused all offers. Frank O'Farrell, then Torquay manager also turned the job down. The fact that O'Farrell went to Leicester and got them relegated was amusing, though he soon jumped ship to Old Trafford. Bingham went to Everton - so maybe both were right to turn the job down. It kind of shows just how shrewd Cobbold was to have such a far-sighted shortlist.

You dont mention Scott Duncan - that was an interesting Cobbold appointment too. Taking the Manchester United manager to an ambitious non-league club was quite a feat..

Aside from Duncan - who has to be regarded as a huge success, because he put Town on the map - the only other staggering successes are Ramsey and Robson - both 'young and hungry' with no managerial pedigree to speak of.

Two managers who got a really bad press at the time but with hindsight were a bit of a success were Jackie MIlburn and John Duncan. Both made some decent signings and promoted youth that would succeed specatularly for the next manager.

Highly successful were Bill McGarry and John Lyall - who both turned around floundering teams and made them second division champions in double quick time for little outlay. both were established managers, though very different in their outlook and personality - and inherited exceptional players.

Then? Burley was a tyro who was doing well at Colchester. People tend to forget he was terrible until 'experienced coaches' came to sort out the mess - first Bryan Hamilton, then Stuart Houston,...laterly Dale Roberts was a restraining and infulential figure until his tragic death. BUT he had two relegations, took an absolute age to get a very good team promoted (via third place) and bust the club with disastrous and senseless signings, and started Town's ruinous flirtation with pointless loans which has coincided with the demise of the club.

McCarthy? Not really - he stabilised the club - then sat tight as it deteriorated at a rate of knots. I'd suggest the club actually progressed more under Lambert in that some Town players actually existed by the time he left - players that were actually home grown or played for three years plus to form the spine of the team.

All that of course was arrognatly tossed away by the cowboys now tasked with making money for a bloke in Ohio. I'm not sure it makes one iota of difference who Town appoint as their next manager. IF it is a short term appointment, a Warnock or McCarthy - then tha shedload of players will have longer contracts than him - and hang around like a bad smell. A gravy train rider keen on a quick pay off? After all the long term project lasted all of four months - now the cowboys are in panic mode who knows how long the next manager has got? A sensible or serious manager? Given the chaos at Portman Road - and let's face it, the vile, intolerant support, that would be a pretty short queue.

Whoever it is they will need time, and will probably appear an uninspiiring choice. History suggests ignore the the supporters moans and give them time. History also suggests an abusive intolerant crowd will soon be venting their spleen - and recent history suggests little time - with the timebomb of a repayent plan to adhere to.



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Harris Applies For Town Job
at 14:45:04

To be fair the Town job is a gravy train rider's dream. All manner of managerial duds will be applying. Cook was allowed to gut the club by the clueless chancers now running the club - and got all of four months before trousering his pay-off. With the panic button pressed the next manager is likely to get even less time. There can be very few jobs where being utterly useless is more rewarding than actually being able to do the job - but football management is one of them
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