It’s hard being an Ipswich Town supporter.
It’s hard watching your team play horrendously outdated football week in, week out.
It’s hard being forced to take a back seat to the rest of the league during the transfer window, while you watch from a distance with the likes of Derby, Middlesbrough and Brighton bring in top quality talent and strengthening their squads.
But what’s hardest of all is having to accept what’s becoming increasingly clear under Marcus Evans and Mick McCarthy; that promotion is, as it has been for some time, merely a dream, a passing hope that evaporates into thin air almost as soon as it is conceived.
However, these have become common aspects of supporting this once-great club, as the absence of ambition and the pain of consistent mediocrity have cemented its annual place in the English second tier with very little sign of change or progression.
To put the fans’ pain into perspective, I am 17 years of age. I have been supporting the club for as long as I can remember, and I am still yet to see a promotion or relegation.
During the fourteen years that Ipswich have spent benignly in the Championship, I have started and finished school, finished my exams, worked several jobs and learnt to drive a car.
When the club was last plying their trade in the promised land, now-Premier League side AFC Bournemouth were coming to terms with their relegation into the fourth tier of English football.
Although the boss Mick McCarthy has admittedly worked wonders with the resources made available to him – snatching the club from the jaws of relegation on arrival and moulding it into a half-decent outfit on a shoestring budget – it’s clear that in his current position, he is unable to take us any further than he already has done in terms of making progress towards promotion.
And Ipswich fans are now beginning to realise that this is almost wholeheartedly down to a disappointing lack of ambition from owner Marcus Evans and other senior figures at the club.
To give an example, last month’s transfer window highlighted to supporters that Championship football was once again the hierarchy’s definition of success. Going into the month, the club were in the Championship playoff places and it seemed like the perfect time to add one or two players of real quality in preparation for the promotion run-in, right?
While nearly every other team in the league’s top ten managed to strengthen their side and send out signals of intent to their rivals – Brighton’s loan signing of influential winger Anthony Knockaert and Aitor Karanka’s capture of a number of unquestionably talented players being standout examples – Marcus Evans and Mick McCarthy decided to take a step back and watch on from the sidelines.
Free agents and loan deals were the order of the day once again at Portman Road, with Kevin Foley agreeing terms and Barnsley’s Paul Digby making his way to Suffolk.
But, with all due respect to the two players, to compare their ability with that of the likes of the influential Nick Blackman and Gary Hooper would be laughable.
Marcus Evans is simply too reluctant to offer funds to the club’s most competent manager since Joe Royle, while seemingly allowing sensational failures Roy Keane and Paul Jewell total freedom of the club’s wallet.
But the aspect that arguably angered fans most of all, is the fact that the £8 million received for promising young fullback Tyrone Mings from Bournemouth seems to have totally disappeared – despite managing director Ian Milne’s reassurances that the money would be reinvested into improving our side.
Now, is this a case of financial greed from the hierarchy? Or is it just that the club would rather play it safe by going for guaranteed Championship football, rather than risking money and reputation for a shot in the Premier League?
Whatever the reason, the harsh reality remains the same; in the modern game, it is essentially impossible for clubs to make any sort of progress without spending money.
And how is any team that refuses to put the hand into the pocket supposed to compete with teams like Derby County, who in 2015 invested more into recruiting talent than Arsenal and Tottenham combined?
All that’s being achieved, and will be achieved, at Ipswich Town under current policy is consistent mediocrity. And the only thing that we as fans can do, is hope that Marcus Evans realises the unfortunate truth sooner rather than later.
Ipswich fans…. Do you agree? Let us know your thoughts below!