Stuart Watson's Sunday Verdict: Don't look back in anger Town fans... at least not today
PUBLISHED: 12:46 11 November 2018 | UPDATED: 12:46 11 November 2018
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Ipswich Town remain five points adrift at the foot of the Championship table following Saturday's 2-2 draw at Reading. STUART WATSON gives his thoughts.
‘Don’t look back in anger’.
It was rather fitting that the words of Oasis played out over the Madejski Stadium speakers as more than 1,800 Ipswich Town fans made their way to the exits on Saturday.
For the second weekend running, the Blues had produced a display to be proud of. The difference in performance levels from the tired and toothless defeats to QPR and Millwall compared to the entertaining and energetic draws against Preston and Reading have been night and day.
We could and probably should be talking about a perfect six-point start under Paul Lambert and the Blues being right in the thick of the Championship relegation battle. Instead, two draws leaves Town rooted to the foot of the table and still five points adrift from the rest.
It will only be in May, when this season is over, that we’ll really be able to look back at the significance of each passing moment.
What if... some of those early encouraging performances under Paul Hurst had yielded wins? Rotherham, Aston Villa and Norwich all spring to mind. Would things have unravelled so quickly?
What if... Town had been battered by Brentford on September 18 rather than fighting back to draw, or hadn’t secured the most unlikely of victories at Swansea on October 6? Would Hurst have been sacked sooner and would Lambert subsequently been able to claim more points from the vital clutch of games which have all just slipped by?
What if... the points had matched the performance levels in those early Lambert games?
What if... winning positions hadn’t been surrendered against Blackburn, Norwich, Birmingham, Preston and Reading (10 points dropped)?
Every team that ends up getting relegated ends up asking themselves these sort of questions. Let’s hope such an autopsy is not needed.
Yes, the nagging doubts I voiced in last weekend’s column remain. If this is a Blues team playing at their maximum and they still can’t win against fellow-strugglers then that is a concern. What if the new manager bounce wears off? And what if the damage is done come the January transfer window?
Today is not the day for those sort of questions though. Today is a day to focus on the positives.
What’s gone is gone. And there is still a hell of a lot of football to be played this season.
Instead of ‘what if’, let’s try ‘imagine’.
Imagine... What Lambert can achieve over the coming weeks and months when you consider the massive team and individual gains made off the back of just a handful of training sessions.
Imagine... What the atmosphere is going to be like at Portman Road for back-to-back home games under the lights against West Brom (Fri, Nov 23) and Bristol City (Wed, Nov 28).
Imagine... If a couple of astute additions in the new year become cult heroes and Lambert is able to build something for the long-term.
These odds have been beaten before and they can be beaten again. We have seen more than enough in the last fortnight to truly believe that.
The first half performance on Saturday was outstanding. That’s not an exaggeration. There was fight, fluidity, perspiration, inspiration, purpose, poise...
I really can’t remember the last time I enjoyed watching Town as much.
And really, isn’t that all we were really asking for back in the summer?
Don’t look back in anger... at least not today.