|It's Not R*********, It's the Promise of an Adventure|
Written by BaltachaFanClub on Saturday, 13th Apr 2019 09:47
Let’s be totally honest, we’ve not had a good year. I know that’s an understatement and come August we begin in a league we haven’t played in for the majority of most readers’ lives.
I certainly wasn’t born back then, and it’s hardly the same situation as it was back before Sir Alf and his team put us firmly on the map (unless it’s a Norfolk-drawn map, they don’t acknowledge history).
Call it a 60-year absence, in those years England became world champions, in no small part thanks to our former leader. England has both joined the European Union and now intend to leave it - well, at some point before Busted arrive in the year 3000 (tenuous Charlie Simpson is a Blue link).
Wars have been fought, governments been and gone, Cliff Richard has sold about four billion albums, and we have progressed to European leaders, then slid back down to a team that many regard as a dinosaur of days gone by, pre-Premier League, definitely from before it was cool to get professional footballers to hold a card stating their FIFA statistics.
Back to today, regardless of your opinion on why it’s happened, we are set to feature in the third-highest division, titled League One, but it is not a footballing wilderness, far from it.
In fact, we will recognise foes from days gone by. Depending on the three teams promoted we are likely to see at least two from Sunderland, Barnsley, Portsmouth and Charlton, probably Doncaster too, and of course one of the classic clubs in Coventry (brown away kit long forgotten in their current home, wherever that may be next term).
Since October I have been quietly expecting the worst. I was on holiday the day Paul Hurst was relieved of his duties, waiting patiently outside the Liverpool Primark for my better half to appear laden with sweatshop produce (yes, we holidayed up north, seeing friends, it’s not all champagne and caviar in Adnams country you know).
She walked out to see me reading TWTD, and instantly asked what was going on. “Hurst’s been sacked” meant nothing to her, she isn’t into “Kickyball” and that’s no surprise, her family support Tottenham.
The instant thought of who could steady the ship disrupted our day. I couldn’t stop thinking about football, and we were meant to be enjoying ourselves. The Paul Lambert rumours didn’t concern me, I didn’t think it was likely at first, even texting Phil to put my comedy application up on the forum once more. Such was the service I paid the rumour.
So Paul arrived, and I wasn’t sure, not because of the Norwich connection, I just wasn’t sure full stop. I had no better ideas and figured an older head such as his was the logical choice once you take into consideration the huge gamble of Hurst and a spending spree had been.
Lambert said the right things, and looked to be putting them in place, initially ignoring all the Hurst new boys for the original bones of the Mick McCarthy era, although I am sure Lambert must have noticed on the billboards, displaying our kit was a talent allowed to leave in cloudy circumstances (Mr Waghorn, adorned in orange). “The football is better” was the standard comment on the radio, and yeah, it was, but the results weren’t.
The transfer window came with promise, but delivered little apart from the most confusing deal in history. Janoi Donacien had looked alright to my untrained eye, but his leave to remain, loan deal with a permanent signing and loan back is more confusing than a University Challenge semi-final.
Will Keane and Collin Quaner both arrived, and to be fair to them have both done bits, Keane looking the more promising, and Big Collin forcing at least one Ipswich fan to eat Quavers and play Quasar. And, of course, Alan Judge, the silver lining has become a permanent favourite for one fan, inked thanks to a Twitter promise.
I doubt many expected the Carrow Road battle, a tactical protest from Lambert potentially saving Nolan from the red card he could have collected, and the referee Mr Bankes deciding our lad Flynn didn’t need one for a late scuffle (if given, that could have caused a riot).
The bewilderment amongst the family in yellow to our constant noise was a bit of a highlight, top of the league, with a new (covered) song about us going down, and they were out sung by the travelling town. A fan march including their trophy-less 'legends' didn’t bolster the atmosphere in their favour, but toothless attacks provided us no joy, and on a dark day we went down fighting.
Since then we have been relegated by every pundit, presenter and paper in the land. A sure thing is easy to call when trying to appear knowledgeable and we have hardly fought against their opinions.
So now what? Cheap tickets? Probably not. New away grounds? For me actually only a handful. A romp of a return? Wait and see... Lambert has offered a plan which if uttered by Mick would have been scorned, but play the kids, sign Bosmans and a couple of loans maximum is not too dissimilar to the last half dozen years of pre-season promises, yet somehow it feels more positive.
I can’t decide whether our youngsters are as good as we think, or whether we have been convinced they are by media play. Positive talk and the often touted 'bounce back' of the many previously relegated teams seems to be the view.
And why not? We could hit it running, bang in five against Fleetwood away, win our first cup game in donkeys' years in the Carabao Cup at home under the Portman road lights with a Judge freekick to dump Championship survivors Reading out of the cup, and go unbeaten until Christmas.
But we could trip on the welcome mat of League One, panic sign a couple of old boys to help out and be in a muddle by October, then see another manager leave whilst I am on holiday (November this year, and further afield that the Mersey).
Truth be told, we don’t know what to expect, and that both excites and frightens me. Be careful what you wish for... none of us wished for this.
So, what did I write all this for? What’s my point? Well, it was a touch for venting, a touch for something to do and a bit for me to outline where I see us come August, so here it is.
We all expect to see the back of our loanees, Matthew Pennington has gone, James Bree will go too, he’s looked good but not much more than our own options, Callum Elder I forgot was still here, Big Trev will play a part at the Bridge next year with their embargo in place. I expect Collin to go too, and Keane I think comes down to finance.
Playing the kids can be spoken of as much as you like, but Myles Kenlock, Josh Emmanuel, Luke Woolfenden, Andre Dozzell, Teddy Bishop, Tristan Nydam, Flynn Downes, Idris El Mizouni and more make a great youth squad.
They need the steady Luke Chambers and Cole Skuse team in the gang, along with Judgey and the remnants of Hurst’s boys, Gwion Edwards, Jon Nolan and Toto Nsiala seem part of the plan, Kayden Jackson and Ellis Harrison I am less sure, and as for poor old Janoi, I have no clue.
The lads on the leaving list could include Grant Ward and Freddie Sears, both will be wished well I am sure but could Ward be the winger League One deserves? And who else is really left in our changing room? The one I think we should see is likely to leave, Danny Rowe. And I don’t even want to think about keepers.
All the best everyone, see you in League One (the third highest first league).
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