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A 62-year round-trip ...
at 18:30 3 Mar 2019

The chances of gaining 13 points from the final 11 games are tiny. The chances of gaining 13 points more than Reading or Rotherham will gain are, for practical purposes, zero. The most we can hope for is that the team will play attractive football for the rest of the season and perhaps achieve a few unexpected wins. Then, after 62 years of continuous presence in the top two tiers of English football, the club will return to its roots.

As a Town fan for the last 52 of the 62 years, my reaction is one of relief. The first 25 years of the 62 were glory years (with a few dips). The last 35 years were choppier, with some ups but more downs. Among other circumstances, the establishment of the Premier league, with its huge financial risks and rewards, changed the nature of football. It became increasingly difficult for a relatively small club such as Ipswich to prosper; and survival in the Championship came at the costs of an over-reliance on loan players and playing an unattractive style of football. That cycle needed to be broken.

Relegation to League One is a form of homecoming. The club is big enough to prosper in League One, and will have an opportunity to evolve in ways that are sustainable and can provide a solid foundation for renewed success. In the short term, the squad can be pruned of loan players, chronically injured players, and older players. This will open up opportunities for younger players, and improve the alignment between costs and revenues. The club can return to the 'brand' of playing attractive football in front of enthusiastic supporters, which is how I remember teams of the late 1960's. If the long-term result is some more 'glory years', so much the better.

In my opinion, Paul Lambert is an almost ideal choice to manage the club at this point in its history. A believer in playing attractive football? Yes. A believer in playing in front of enthusiastic supporters? Yes. A track record of success in a comparable situation? Yes. I am looking forward to next season in a way that I have not experienced for a long time.
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Sympathy for Paul Hurst
at 00:11 10 Feb 2019

A reference point for Paul Hurst's tenure at Ipswich is Brian Clough's tenure at Leeds United.
Clough was a plain-speaking Yorkshire man who achieved excellent results managing Derby County. In July 1974, after Don Revie left Leeds to become the manager of England, Clough became the manager of Leeds. Results were poor, and his tenure at Leeds lasted just 44 days. There was hostility between the manager and his players. A dramatized version of the events was depicted in the film 'The Damned United". Twelve weeks after he was terminated by Leeds, Clough became tha manager of Nottingham Forest, where he enjoyed huge success for several years and remained for 18 years. Analyses of Clough's time at Elland Road have concluded that he correctly identified the need for a dramatic change of culture, but greatly underestimated the difficulty of changing a deeply-entrenched culture.

Paul Hurst is a plain-spoken Yorkshire man who achieved excellent results managing teams in the National League, League Two and League One. In May 2018, Hurst became the manager of Ipswich Town. Results were poor, and his tenure at Ipswich lasted less than five months. Future analyses of Hurst's time at Portman Road may well conclude that he correctly identified the need for a dramatic change of culture, but greatly underestimated the difficulty of changing a deeply-entrenched culture.

Consider the situation that Hurst inherited:

During the two previous seasons, the team had achieved mediocre results. Prior to Hurst's arrival, three significant loanees (Celina, Connolly and Carter-Vickers) and a talented forward (McGoldrick) had left. Other players were upset about the way that their previous manager had been treated, or felt unsettled about their futures. Within a few weeks Webster, Waghorn and Garner had moved on. The shelves had to be restocked quickly.

Hurst brought in several loanees, including talented young players (Chalobah, Pennington, and Edun) and a veteran forward (Walters). He attempted to sign a veteran defender (Collins). Hurst also signed players who had performed well in Leagues One and Two, including two defenders (Donacien and Nsiala), a midfielder (Nolan) and several forwards (Harrison, Jackson, Edwards, and Roberts).

With such drastic and rapid change, it was inevitable that it would take time for the squad to gel. Hurst did not manage expectations well. His dealings with established players seemed unnecessarily confrontational; and blaming the players for the loss to Exeter seemed like an abdication of his share of the responsibility. Even so, there were reasons to think that change could be weathered. Given a deserved away win, rather than a last-minute, undeserved loss, at Rotherham; effective adjustments to the way set-pieces were defended; a return to previous form for the goalkeeper; and a healthy Jonathan Walters; the corner could have been turned.

It was not to be. Momentum turned, hopes were dashed, patience ran out. In retrospect, Paul Hurst came into a difficult situation and did many, but not enough, things right. If he has learned from the experience, he will return to another job as a better manager and will achieve fresh success.
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We can stay up ...
at 00:13 23 Jan 2019

If the 'new' squad plays with mid-table form, the record over the last 18 games could be something like W6 D6 L6. In that case, Town would have 42 points, which could well be enough to stay up.

Can the 'new' squad achieve mid-table form? Before the January signings, no. With Collins, Keane, and Judge - possibly. If Skusey regains fitness and form, chances improve. If, with Collins anchoring the defence, Bart regains confidence and form, I would be willing to place a bet at evens ...

Does Will Keane remind anyone else of David Johnson who played for Ipswich in the early- to mid-1970's and went on to Liverpool? Skilful, fast, elusive, with a distinctive hair style and fun to watch ...
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