Hahaha, I was going to answer this last night, but thought it would descend into a drunken screed (whereas this will just be a sober rant). Short answer - definitely not happy. Longer (but still trying to reign it in) answer:
In my opinion (and what the hell do I know), there are two issues with Ipswich at the moment: 1, the owner (Marcus Evans) and how the club is ran, and 2, Mick McCarthy.
Point the first - Marcus Evans
I'll preface this by saying that, without Evans (or someone of his ilk) we wouldn't exist. We were skint, on the way out and if he hadn't come in we'd have either folded or kept going down until we were something like Coventry. There's a growing call for Evans to go, but to be honest I just think that's pie in the sky stuff - there isn't a conveyor belt of bored millionaires looking to lose money on us. But having said that - I think we're being ran really badly. We're an old fashioned, reactionary club and we're basically sleep walking towards irrelevance. It's been a shit season, people are leaving in droves (one of the side-effects of letting people pay for their season tickets on direct debit is that they can cancel the direct debit during the season - my row was full at the start of the season, and by the last game yesterday we'd lost about two thirds of people - long standing season ticket holders who just couldn't be bothered to pay and watch terrible football any more) so I was looking forward to seeing what they were going to offer for the season ticket renewal this year. They:
- Raised prices
- Got rid of the old £10 11 and under season ticket (replaced by a new £50 12 and under season ticket, so for a friend of mine who took his two sons, 8 and 9, to games - his costs went from £20 for the season to £100, before he pays for his own ticket)
- Raised the senior price threshold from 60 to 65
- Got rid of student prices to be replaced by a 23 and under price (so mature students have to pay full price)
In return, there's a derisory rebate if we sell 12,750 tickets. I think we'll be lucky if we sell 10,000 - expecting around 9,000. As far as I can tell, they basically just figured loads of people would stop coming anyway because of McCarthy so worked out the maximum amount they could charge without losing the likes of me. No one I know is looking forward to next season - we've renewed out of some bizarre grim commitment to a club that no longer cares about us. I want them to look at Huddersfield and their pricing structure this year - I've got no finance background but I would have just thought that there are fixed overheads that the club pays for every game anyway so having 10,000 at £30 a ticket or 20,000 at £15 a ticket is a no brainer - as the 20,000 will spend more at the club shop and on pies and beers.
Even something like the programme - I don't know anyone who buys ours anymore, something like the Wolves programmes with their covers is a cool, interesting idea. If I was a Wolves fan, I'd probably buy every programme this season with a view to having them all framed (and never doing it and having them in a box in my loft) - I made a half hearted attempt to get a copy of the Ipswich one. Ipswich's programmes are just full of empty interviews and shit adverts. Evans isn't going to put money into the club - fair enough, so we need to be more clever in terms of what we do in terms of sponsorship, procurement, pricing, community engagement and with the money we do have. But we're not doing any of that - our secondary sponsors (after Marcus Evans himself) are things like the Dove Pub (a great pub - you should go there if you come to Ipswich for an away game) but they're not going to be putting in the money we need to be relevant again, or third tier Facilities Management companies like Vertas (apologies if you work for Vertas). And all the while other clubs are either getting richer, better run or smarter than us.
Point the second - Mick McCarthy
And into that cauldron of mediocrity we have Big Mick. He has had two big successes with us - he kept us up in 2012/13 and got us in the playoffs in 2014/15. However, in my opinion keeping us up in 2012/13 was basically what was expected - he took over in November and had a good team, we were just being managed appallingly by Paul Jewell (who was putting more effort into his after match quips to Sky Sports News than his tactics at that point). I'd expect anyone competent to be able to manage us out of that situation and it played to McCarthy's strengths (and in spite of everything else, he is a very, very good man manager - all the players and staff at the club love him).
2014/15 however was a brilliant success - he massively overachieved with the team that he had and that season should go down as a major feather in his cap and, assuming he doesn't alienate the entire fan base before he goes, he should be remembered fondly for that season. But in spite of that ... I almost think that season is the reason we're in the state we are now - we were top at Christmas, then spent cock-all in January and limped to sixth and lost valiantly to Norwich in the Play-Off semi finals. I think both McCarthy and Evans thought they had cracked it at Christmas, incorrectly thought they could basically make us competitive on a shoestring budget and identified McCarthy as key to it all, and we've slowly slid to irrelevance since.
The following season McCarthy claimed to have the best squad he's ever had and I think he was right, but he basically showed no idea how to use it - we basically regressed to the cliched 'McCarthy Team' but with all the negatives and none of the positives. We hoofed it up to Murphy, but didn't have anyone supporting him to get knock-ons or to be in the middle to actually score after he'd held it up. We crowded the midfield and broke up the opposition's play, but didn't have anyone that actually wanted the ball that could pass the ball forward. We played a counter-attack tactic, but were slow and over defensive so there was no-one in the opposition's half to actually attack with. And as we've got shitter, McCarthy has got more entrenched in proving himself right and damn the consequences. He has favourites, and he's the Manager and can play who he likes so fair enough, but his don't seem based on footballing ability or form but rather people that the media or the fans have had a pop at him for playing, so he'll keep playing them until they play well so he can then crow about it in post-game interviews.
Our player of the year for the last two years has been Bartosz Białkowski (our goalkeeper, never a good sign). However, McCarthy likes our other goalkeeper Dean Gerkin. Gerkin is an average Championship level goalkeeper and makes mistakes. I think Bialkowski is an excellent keeper and I assume he'll be in the Premier League next year, or at an upwardly mobile Championship club. McCarthy kept playing Gerkin last season until the mistakes got too much and he had to bring Bialkowski in, who did excellently. Then Bialkowski missed a match as his father died, and rather than just play Gerkin that one game, he kept playing him, until again the mistakes got too much, instead of bringing his superior keeper back. A couple of games ago, he even said that Gerkin was the reason that Bialkowski was so good, as he kept him on his toes and pushed him to be better. And he keeps doing this across the team - playing and bigging up his favourite no matter how badly they play - e.g. bringing Jonathan Douglas back for games, or just talking about him in pre and post game interviews when he's not even in the squad ("Dougie is different class" is a common refrain - Douglas was the subject of a fan video that went viral after the Newcastle away game, https://twitter.com/RachelC_6/status/789887960120455168)
And as we've got worse, and the attendances have gone down, and the atmosphere has got worse (and even then we're a soft lot - McCarthy basically has to put up with a few half hearted boos and tame songs), he's just doubled down and got more stubborn. Other teams' fans like McCarthy as he's seen as a straight talking Yorkshireman and for a while he was. But this season he's lost it - whereas he used to throw a few light swear words in with a cheeky grin, now he swears a lot and it's no longer funny, light hearted stuff, now he's just a bitter old man. After the Newcastle game (by far the best performance this season, the highest attendance and 'Bobby Robson day' - a marketing driven event but we love our club history at Ipswich so a fairly major deal) McCarthy said "They are feeling it a bit and I did say to the lads there are 25,000 coming here to watch. I said, ‘Not us by the way, I’m sure none of the fuckers are coming to watch us the way we’ve been playing here". And I know it's precious, but come on! Why call the fans fuckers? But that has basically been him all season - he feels slighted by the fans so goes out of his way to antagonise them.
And following that great result against Newcastle what does he do away at Rotherham? Makes 9 changes and loses. What has he learnt? Probably only that you can't make 9 changes to a winning team and expect everyone to gel and play well but surely he knew that already. 700 away fans went - sod 'em. We gave 4 points to Rotherham this season. Then he goes back to the same team as against Newcastle for Shef Wednesday yesterday and loses. Why? Only he knows.
I fully expect him to be here again next year, and I think we'll go down. With crowds of around 10,000 (depending on how many away fans there are) and I fully expect McCarthy to blame everyone else but himself for it. If I was his agent I'd be telling him to get out now, as other than the Lincoln debacle, I don't think the national media has cottoned onto how badly he's doing, so he could still get himself set on Soccer Saturday or BT Sports or whatever. Another season like this, and he'll be screwed.
Ultimately, I just don't accept that low budget has to mean shit with regard to Ipswich. I think there's a lot that can be done with regard to coaching and team tactics that mean you make the most of what you have. The cliched McCarthy Team is one that maximises dead ball opportunities and closes games out - we're not like that at all. We let in goals for fun, we're terrible at throw-ins (both our own and oppositions, we always let the opposition play it out from throw-ins, I don't think we're taken a good throw in in the oppositions half all season), we're crap at corners, we constantly take short, quick free-kicks whilst not being set up or having the players who can do something about it - the centre-halfs have still gone up for the ball into the box, but we'll play a short one, cock about for a bit then lose it. We bought Kieffer Moore for £10,000 in January - all six foot five of him (he's not very good). But we bring him on and lump balls up to him without actually having any other change in tactic to take advantage of it - he knocks the ball on to ... no-one as we've taken off Freddie Sears to bring him on so there's no one with the pace to actually take advantage of it. We spend what little money we do have on loan-players who sit on the bench and do nothing whilst our youth players get frozen out and don't progress.
I think I lost any hint of a coherent argument a while back, so in summary I think McCarthy has lost it. He's a great man manager and his players love him, but a terrible tactician and his pride and stubbornness will take Ipswich down next year. I would take anyone as our next manager over him.
Next question (apologies for the rambling).