Burley is a Saint

FORMER Blues boss George Burley was last night appointed head coach at Southampton, with Sir Clive Woodward taking over as the Championship club's director of football.

By Derek Davis

FORMER Blues boss George Burley was last night appointed head coach at Southampton, with Sir Clive Woodward taking over as the Championship club's director of football.

Burley's first game in charge will be against Watford at Vicarage Road on Boxing Day, 11 years to the day since he took over at Portman Road.

Burley last night said: “I am very pleased to come on board at St Mary's.


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“Southampton have an exciting young team and I believe that they should, and can, be much higher in the Championship table than they are.

“It's my job to make sure that this happens. I am delighted to accept the head coach position.

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“I'm at my best on the training ground and my role at Southampton will allow me to concentrate on that.

“Clive and I have had detailed discussions on how we will work together and I'm excited by the prospect.”

Burley will face his old club Ipswich at St Mary's on January 21, when they meet in the Championship.

It was 11 years ago that Burley left Colchester United to become manager at Ipswich.

He took them to the play-off finals in 2000, beating Barnsley to return the club to the Premiership.

In his first season Burley took Town to fifth in the Premiership and into the UEFA Cup. The Scot won Premiership Manager of the Year but the Blues could not sustain their success and were relegated the following season. He was dismissed as Blues boss in September 2002 but bounced back to take over at Derby County and in his first full year at Pride Park led them to the play-offs.

An acrimonious split followed but Burley bounced back and last summer was appointed manager at Edinburgh club Hearts. He left them top of the SPL in October after falling out with the Lithuanian chairman over team matters and moved back to Ipswich to live.

Burley inherits a Southampton team who are 12th in the Championship, just four points off the play-off places, following 13 draws from their 23 games.

Woodward last night said: “George is the right appointment for the club. As head coach he will have complete control of team selection, tactics and coaching issues and I will concentrate on strategic issues which affect the club in less obvious but equally important ways.

“The chairman, George and myself have a very clear idea of where we want to take this club and I really look forward to working with George.”

Saints chairman Rupert Lowe is understood to have spoken to Ipswich Town chairman David Sheepshanks about Burley before recommending him to the Saints' board.

Lowe last night said: “I am delighted with the new arrangements that were approved unanimously at today's board meeting, in line with my recommendation.

“I believe we now have a management team that will deliver stability, results and exciting football.

“The number and quality of candidates that Clive and I have seen over the last two weeks have been outstanding, with George emerging as our first choice.

“In George and Clive we have got a management team of undoubted quality with strengths in complementary areas, who share the same vision for Southampton and give us the best possible chance of returning the club to the Premier League in the shortest possible time.”

Southampton have been without a manager since Harry Redknapp quit earlier this month, prior to returning to south coast rivals Portsmouth.

Town chairman Sheepshanks last night offered his congratulations to Burley and best wishes to Southampton.

He said: “George is a super manager and I have great admiration for his ability. He did a wonderful job for six and half of his seven years at Ipswich and has gone on to do well at Derby and Hearts.

“I wish him the best of luck and Southampton well, except on January 21 when we play them.”

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