Simon Clegg has been a controversial figure at Ipswich since joining the club as Chief Executive in April 2009.
This week Clegg has said that he believes Ipswich are under achieving as a club and thought the team were going to finish higher last season.
On the face of it this story is not anything interesting and obviously the Chief Executive can’t really say anything other than Ipswich should be contending for promotion. However, if you dig deeper it makes you think; are the new faces running the club trying to achieve too much too soon?
Marcus Evans and Simon Clegg have made it clear every season that immediate promotion is the aim but I believe a more patient strategy, based around slowly integrating younger players into the team is the key.
When Marcus Evans rolled into town everyone thought he was the saviour of the club as he invested millions into the team after a long period of financial instability. He gave everyone what they thought the team needed, lots of expensive players who had Premier League experience.
Of course, it would be unfair to completely slate the Evans and Clegg for this approach because most fans thought it was what the club needed at the time. Looking back now we can all see how stupid we were to get caught up in the hype that new investment brought to the club. It seems obvious now that bringing together a ton of failed Premier League players that don’t care about the club isn’t a great idea but it seemed logical at the time.
The concern now is whether the club will be realistic and formulate a new strategy. The one quote I felt most alarmed by was when Clegg said “We feel we can be contenders, along with most of the other clubs in the Championship”.
His comments are contradicting because if “most of the other clubs” are contending then even if Ipswich put together a good side they could still end up finishing mid-table but Clegg also said that mid-table wasn’t good enough. He raises a good point at first because in the Championship there are always at least 12-18 teams that believe they have a good chance of gaining promotion and rightly so. When so many teams have a good shot at promotion it becomes very difficult to break away from the mid-table positions even if you have some decent players.
In hindsight it seems to be that Marcus Evans would have been better off setting out a plan to invest smaller amounts of money into the team over a longer period of time rather than putting a lot of money in very quickly. With big immediate investment you expect immediate results which doesn’t give managers much time to build a team and doesn’t allow for managers to try out younger players in the team. I believe that by encouraging managers to not aim too high right away they can actually build a team based around young players which in the long-term is a much more successful approach.
It could be argued that Ipswich have already started to take this new approach though. Although Paul Jewell has previously brought in a lot of old players he has definitely started to focus on younger players more recently.
The only issue is whether Jewell will get the time to build a young team given the fact that everyone is expecting him to have a top side next season. Clegg’s comments are a little worrying as they suggest that the club is still caught up in short-term strategies but we will have to wait until next season before we see what he really thinks.
Personally, if by December Ipswich are in the top half of the table with a young side I won’t be complaining and I would like to see Jewell given the time to develop that side. However, if the team are in the top half but clearly only going downhill in the future then it will be time to think about changing the management. Hopefully Clegg will have the same attitude and not be too harsh on Jewell if he is building for the future.