Friday, 20 January 2012

Dear Mr Evans, thank you for your letter...

In the most recent match-day programme Marcus Evans sent out a rare direct message to the fans.

As inconsistent results continue into the New Year, our club balances just four points above the Championship's relegation zone. So it's difficult, as a fan, not to feel concern for the direction our club is going.

Evan's words apparently try to calm these fears and, for what it's worth, I do think he makes an effort to answer the questions we all ask of him when we're discussing The Blues amongst ourselves.

(A full transcription of the article can be read here)

In the days since said interview was published it has stirred debate among fans. Interestingly, there have been a number of different interpretations of what he had to say. What set out to perhaps reduce worries, appears to have raised more questions.

Overall, I was happy with it: it made me feel that Marcus Evans is thinking along the same lines as me. He talks about the good run we had earlier in the season and his belief that this was a sign of things to come.

We had that good run of games when we were unbeaten in six matches and I can remember us going into the home match against Crystal Palace where a 1-0 win would have seen us move into the top two in the Championship. We lost that game 1-0 instead and that awful run of seven successive defeats followed. It looked like number eight at Barnsley until the incredible turnaround at Oakwell gave us a glimpse of our early season form and what the team is capable of.

A section of the Blue Army believe the fact he has chosen to remain unknown, besides his name and business history, suggests he wants to keep his distance from the club. I have never believed this and his answers to these questions have enabled me to relate to him because I have been feeling the same way. I particularly like the question where he's asked: how does your job at Town differ from your day-to-day job.

I don’t go around punching the air in my normal day-to-day job! Or hold my head in my hands! It’s a game of emotions, of highs and lows, and we’ve had plenty of them this season. It grips you though. For 90 minutes on a Saturday afternoon, it’s all that I’m focussed on.

A man who doesn't care about this club doesn't go around with his head in his hands, or indeed punching the air in delight, in my humble opinion.

I also appreciate his honesty about the position we are in at the moment. Again, he relates to the fans feelings by expressing his disappointment and his expectations that we could do better.

As we stand at the moment, we’re obviously in a disappointing position. There have been some highs but too many lows, as there seems to have been since I have been involved with the Club.

However, there is something to the argument that this is 'typical PR talk, what else would he say?' We would be angry if he told us, 'everything's going to be alright, there's nothing to worry about'. Here I think is the problem many people have with the interview: it doesn't reveal anything or explain WHY we are in such a poor position. But then I don't think anyone can explain that: it seems as much a shock to the club management as it is the media and to us as fans.

The talk of 'long-term' vs 'short-term' planning has been a common subject of debate among online Town forums recently too, following Jewell's admission that he had been going for a short-term fix but now wanted to concentrate on a long term solution.

Evans appears to agree with this:

It’s clear to me that creating a quick fix within any football club is extremely hard to achieve however deep the owner’s pockets might be! The Championship this year is littered with clubs that would be regarded as underperformers, where high profile managers and significant investment levels have not resulted in performances on the pitch or in league positions that would have been expected... It is clear to me that producing a team that will consistently push for promotion and eventually join the Premier League, is about a long-term development programme.

I'll never forget the discussion my Dad and I had with two fellow Britannia Stand residents at the last game of the 2010/11 season. One gentleman said to us, 'I don't care if it takes us three or four years to get promoted: I'd rather do that than go up straight away and come back down again'.

I'd like to think that's the opinion of the majority of Town fans, and it's frustrating that the powers that be seem so far behind us in that thinking. Having said that, it is reassuring to hear Evans confirm his plan to take the club forward now.

On the face of it, that quote could be interpreted as simply telling us what we want to hear; But Evans has allowed himself to go on record now, he will not be stupid enough to go back on his promise and risk ruining his reputation, I'd have thought.

Perhaps the most significant quote from Evans was his opinions of the current manager in charge of his football team. The ongoing Jewell In/ Jewell Out debate gathers speed with every week and every poor result and in response to thise we had heard from Paul Jewell that Evans told former Town transfer target Sean St Ledger only last week that Jewell was going nowhere. But is was good to hear it straight from the horse's mouth was good and at least provides some stability to the club at a fragile time.

I have spoken to Paul about my plans here, to build a team that can reach and then compete at the highest level. To achieve that we need stability and so long as our manager and coaching team demonstrate the knowledge and clear ability to take us forward, I see little point in restarting the project every season by switching managers.

Of course some fans would argue this shows Evans is as clueless as Paul Jewell and both should be removed from Portman Road as soon as possible along with their friend Simon Clegg.

Personally, I would rather hear that the staff behind the scenes at Ipswich are pulling together and battling through these tough times, whether it is right or wrong that it be with the current trio in charge. That I can support and get behind; a disgruntled owner and a manager who's terrified of losing his job I cannot.

With all that said though, I do think Evans' interview lacks a serious amount of depth. Presumably the questions have been pre-approved by himself and the answers offer little insight into the man behind the name, the face that we cannot see and the hands in which we're all supposed to put our dreams for the future of our beloved club. I think he owes us a little more than what appears to be a very well planned interview with questions probably edited in minute detail by a good PR team.

What I would much prefer to see is a question and answer session between Evans and the fans of his club. Dave Gooderham from the Green Un and East Anglian Daily Times has gone some way towards this by collecting questions from Town fans to Evans and sending those into the club. I'd love to see a response to this as it seems to sum up the general feeling of our fan base and poses some sensible questions.

In the mean time though, I'm more than happy with the message Marcus Evans has sent to us. Whether it was intended as a PR stunt or not, the fact that he's taken the time to release an interview is applaudable (though also the least he can do) and I for one cannot argue with anything he has to say.

So, for now, thank you for your time Mr Evans, we look forward to speaking to you again soon.

1 comment:

Matt Stannard said...

Brilliant and spot on!

My only concern with ME was that he was using Clegg for his Olympic contacts. I have to say I have a lot more respect for him since reading the post :-)

Come on you Blues X