It’s not much fun being an Ipswich Town supporter at the moment. With the team struggling in League One, fans calling for manager Paul Lambert to be sacked, and seemingly no sign of getting back into the Championship, tempers are fraying.
And it’s not just the supporters getting hot under the collar with Ipswich. The players are a little worked up, too. With four red cards already this campaign, the anger has also spread off the pitch, with some verbals with fans on social media.
Striker James Norwood is well known for his Twitter and Instagram banter, but he took exception to a fan who questioned his recent fitness and goalscoring record.
First, one fan said: “Sick note, I’ve played more minutes than him in the last year.”
Former Tranmere Rovers favourite Norwood was not impressed. He retweeted the sick note jibe with the comment: “Congrats mate. You must be a machine.”
But things didn’t end there. @tractorboy111 got in another dig. “And (he) has scored 1 goal in 8 matches this season, from what he used to be, he’s been a massive flop.”
Norwood, 30, who scored 32 goals in his last season at Tranmere, wasn’t taking that laying down. He retorted: “You want to compare it to starts? Or goals to minutes? Cos when I checked it was 13 goals in 27 starts… and most of those games I never finished. But thanks statto.”
Before adding one last reply: “Oh… and 6 assist. Glad I could help.”
Things calmed down for a few days, before another one of those weird Twitter rumours, this time speculating that Norwood had a huge bust-up with boss Lambert at half-time during the recent 2-1 defeat at Peterborough. Norwood had scored Ipswich’s goal in the first half but was substituted at the break.
Norwood was rather surprised, given that nothing of the kind had happened. “Some of the things you read. Absolutely mental”, he Tweeted.
Where has it all gone wrong for Ipswich?
You have to go back a long way – all the way back to 2001/02 when they were relegated from the Premier League under George Burley (having finished fifth and got into Europe the season before).
The club went on a long and terminal decline. It languished in the Championship for 17 years under Joe Royle, Jim Magilton, Roy Keane, Paul Jewell, Mick McCarthy, Paul Hurst and finally Paul Lambert before crashing into League One, the third tier of English football, for the first time since 1957.
This was a dramatic fall from grace for a club that was once one of the best and most feared in Europe (former League Champions, FA Cup and UEFA Cup winners) under Sir Alf Ramsey and Sir Bobby Robson.
Things got worse last season when an anticipated fast return to the Championship failed to materialise. Town topped League One at the start of the season, but a drastic dip in form saw them end the COVID-shortened season in a disappointing tenth place.
The side again got off to a flyer this season, but another worrying slump in form sees them currently stuck in 11th place. As a mark of how far the club has fallen, Shrewsbury Town went into their home game with Ipswich as 6/4 match favourites at STS Bet.
Supporters are united in their call for Lambert, amazingly given a four-year contract extension by club owner Marcus Evans last season, to be sacked. A poll by the local paper saw 96% in favour of him going. Presumably, the other 4% were Norwich fans taking delight in Lambert, who won promotion with Norwich twice, doing so badly at their bitter East Anglian rivals.
Ipswich has always been a community club, with fans who are normally tolerant. Things must be bad when they have turned so vocally in recent months.
It’s a shame that some of that is directed at players like Norwood, who shows no lack of effort on the pitch and does, as the stats support, score goals when fit.
When he signed from Tranmere, the locals were thrilled, with one Ipswich pub even creating a matchday dish called Norwood Nachos, which would decrease in price over the course of the season, according to how many goals he scored. The landlord was even willing to give the striker the keys to his pub if he banged in 35 goals. He ended the season with 11.
Yet we know football is a funny old game. A run of three wins could see Ipswich back in the play-off mix – but as they have lost all of their last nine matches against the league’s other top teams, that’s a long shot.