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Ipswich Town fan Russell Claydon calls for Mick McCarthy to leave

Ipswich Town fan and sports editor Russell Claydon with his 'dirty secret' around his neck
Ipswich Town fan and sports editor Russell Claydon with his 'dirty secret' around his neck

Everyone has their tipping point - mine proved to be making the 10 o'clock news for all the wrong reasons.

During the last four years of writing my column, before passing it over to Zach Ward recently due to finding it increasingly difficult to make it to matches this season, I have been one of Mick McCarthy's biggest supporters.

When he took over in November, 2012 things were in a right mess, and it was embarrassing to walk down the street in an Ipswich scarf.

It had become the dirty secret you carried around with you. Choosing when you were feeling strong enough to overtly display it.

But his no-nonsense approach pulled a sinking ship back from the depths of despair and, after shipping out the dead wood in the playing staff, made me proud of my team once again.

But fast forward through one near miss sandwiched between a couple of failed play-off attempts and I feel pride-wise we're back where we started with my dread of walking down the street in my blue-and-white scarf.

I've defended Mick amid his arrogance and turgid football (results are what matters was the previous argument) when others have long since headed into the 'Mick out' camp.

But last night's FA Cup Third Round replay exit to non-league Lincoln City was the straw that broke the camel's back.

Being out-fought and out-thought by a team three divisions below surely couldn't happen, I thought, and surely never on Mick McCarthy's watch.

But it did. And worse still, the nightmare scenario unfolded in front of a national TV audience on a prime time BBC One slot, leading to us making the opening titles of the ensuing 10 o'clock news as I hid behind my sofa.

It was enough for me to deduce that Mick has lost what he had created at this club.

It's time for us to both move on.

In one dugout at Sincil Bank last night you had a manager who couldn't get his message across to a group of players who had more than enough experience and talent (supposedly) about them to make the 90 minutes a formality.

In the other dugout you had an inspiring manager who was performing miracles with a group of committed, but far from the most technically gifted of players, that were prepared to run through brick walls for him.

The latter used to be how I could and would have described Mick McCarthy.

But something, as it often does over time, had changed.

And I now don't think there is any quick way back.

Our current league campaign appears to be going nowhere after another season where fans were dangled the carrot of getting their money back on a season ticket at England's top table, should we get to dine there next season.

Fat chance of that happening anytime soon, though I'm sure that will again be the PR strategy for getting people to renew when the brochures are sent out again in a few months' time.

My one sticking point with Mick, when others challenged my loyalty, had become his hands continually being tied in the transfer market.

First, it was a necessity with the introduction of Financial Fair Play.

But as that became a farce and the FFP goalposts were significantly moved, it became clear Mick was becoming a victim of his own success.

He wasn't demanding the money and was continuing to do a decent(ish) Rumpelstiltskin act in spinning gold from straw.

So why would a successful and astute businessman like Evans release the strict controls over the purse strings? Especially when he can point (or rather get his mouthpiece, Ian Milne to point) to the fact he is already putting £5 million a year into keeping the club afloat.

And do you know what? I think Mick us type of person who enjoys shopping at football's version of Poundland.

They are the perfect match for each other.

But with this season's promotion push already derailed before Christmas, there was/is real pressure on Evans to finally back his manager with the market value of a quality Championship-level player or two.

But given the green light, finally, Mick, with a wry smile on his face, reverts to his favourite game: unearthing the next Michael Kightly or Tyrone Mings: another non-league gem that can be polished up, but ultimately sold on for a massive margin.

But this wasn't the time for putting our energy into finding/scouting and nurturing a player who could be a quality Championship player in a few year's time.

This transfer window, albeit with time still to play with, so judging now is a tad harsh, was/is about (finally) bringing in a replacement for Daryl Murphy.

Good luck to Kieffer Moore, who found himself unable to get in National League promotion chasers Forest Green's starting 11 ahead of a switch to fellow non-league outfit Torquay United only the month before last.

But he surely isn't that man - and he was sensible to distance himself from stepping into the Republic of Ireland international's shoes when the club's in-house media suggested it in their first interview.

Jordan Spence was our second signing of the day on Monday, but a more underwhelming addition - having had the relegated MK Dons defender on trial in the summer only to not offer him a deal, due to having young Josh Emmanuel, would have been hard to come by.

Well, Emmanuel is still there and bringing through academy players into the first team was a key cornerstone of the five point plan Evans revealed in his programme notes this month, so will 27-year-old Spence block another academy talent from getting in Mick's preferred team?

Neither is he one of these young players the club can recruit and develop, that was also within our owner's blueprint for the club.

For what it's worth, I thought the teenage right-back was one of the few players to come out of last night with any credit.

What message does our latest acquisition send him? And how long will it take Spence, who hasn't had a proper preseason and been kicking his heels without competitive football for eight months, to get up to speed?

For me, last night's inability to defeat a non-league outfit, at the second time of asking, was the defining moment when I reluctantly joined the 'Mick outters' from the 'Mick inners', as far as the Championship's longest-serving manager is concerned.

I found myself looking at Danny Cowley, and the buzz he has created at Lincoln - and in a similar manner to Braintree before that - and yearning for that at my club.

My grandad brought me up as an Ipswich Town fan, taking me to my first game at nine-years-old, often telling me about the glory days he had witnessed, when the 'Super Blues' reigning supreme under Wembley's old arch after toppling the mighty Gunners in the 1978 FA Cup, and then beating some of the very best sides in Europe (Paris Saint Germain et al) to lift the UEFA Cup in 1981.

With our proud history in the FA Cup, I longed to call him and talk about last night's game at both half-time and full-time.

But sadly he is no longer here, and I couldn't help but think he must have been turning in his grave.

My biggest gripe with McCarthy has always been the disdain he has showed for our FA Cup heritage.

Last night was the fifith successive season he has humiliated us by playing weakened (ok, last night wasn't so much so, but certainly wasn't our very strongest, without Bart especially) sides as we have had to watch us go out at the third round stage.

Another year when a former winner of the famous competition has meekly exited at the first hurdle.

And I've always said in my column that it just doesn't seem to hurt Mick and his players enough.

With Mick's contract still having just short of 18 months to run, don't expect a change now, especially after Evans' recent defence of his man.

But I'd say this: don't stop demanding one.

As I now believe that until that happens, and you fans have a bigger voice than you believe in the boardroom conversations, my love for Ipswich Town must remain my dirty secret.

* What do you think? Email Russell through the name at the top of this article and read Zach Ward's column in the Suffolk Free Press tomorrow and Bury Free Press and Diss Express alongside our Norwich City fan Edward Seaman's take of all things Norwich City on Friday.

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