‘Go and get Mowbray’ – Burley’s message to Ipswich Town
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Ipswich Town legend George Burley believes the club should do everything they can to appoint Tony Mowbray as the next manager and balks at the suggestion a limited budget should mean limited ambition.
The Blues announced last week that Mick McCarthy and assistant Terry Connor would be leaving the club when their contracts expire this summer, ending a five-and-a-half year era.
Mowbray is currently in charge of a Blackburn Rovers side battling for automatic promotion in League One.
The 54-year-old has previously been in the hot seat at Hibernian, West Brom, Celtic, Middlesbrough and Coventry, with fellow ex-Town defender Mark Venus having been his right-hand man throughout.
“If you asking me who I would say, I would say go and get Tony Mowbray,” said Burley. “He played under me for five years and he was my assistant when we finished fifth in the Premier League.
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“He knows the philosophy of the club and was brought up with a certain manner of playing the game.
“For me he ticks all the boxes. Yes, he may be difficult to get given what he’s doing at Blackburn at the moment, but for me (owner) Marcus (Evans) needs to be ambitious and go out there and make it happen.”
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Burley played for Town during the halcyon days of the ‘70s and ‘80s before a successful stint as manager in the ‘90s and early ‘00s. Having thrown his hat in the ring when McCarthy was appointed back in November 2012, he was asked if he would be interested in any sort of role back at the club now.
“I’ve always said that if Ipswich wanted me to do something, anything, then I would always consider it no matter what,” he said.
“Four years ago I decided to move from London to Ipswich to be nearer my grand kids. I go to all the games and I speak to (managing director) Ian (Milne) regularly, but they have never asked me to get involved.”
He continued: “Ipswich will always be my club. I had 14 years there as a player, nine as manager and we enjoyed so much success. I’m from Scotland but I’m an Ipswich boy now. All my friends and family are here. I live up near Christchurch Park and I live and breath the town. Like so many of the ex-players – John Wark, Terry Butcher, Alan Brazil – we all have the club in our hearts.
“I’m a fan now really and, speaking as a fan, I think we all need to see something that makes us believe the club is moving forwards.
“Mick has done a great job of keeping the team competitive in the Championship on limited resources, but I think the fans are rightly looking for a wee bit more than that.
“The frustration hasn’t just stemmed from results, it’s about an eroding of the Ipswich way.
“Supporters are just looking for a bit of hope. They want to see the club being true to its traditions of producing from the academy and playing a certain way. They want to see youngsters not only given a chance for three or four games, but for a manager to really persevere with them. The likes of Kieron Dyer and Richard Wright played 30/40 league games as kids – how many times have we had that in the last 10 years?”
He continued: “Bobby Robson didn’t have money to spend, I didn’t have money to spend, Ipswich Town has never been a club that’s had lots of money. But it was a club that always had a philosophy, a way to play and a belief that you persevered with homegrown players.
“Listen, the budget is not going to change next season, there isn’t suddenly going to be £30-40m to spend, so it’s got to be about fully embracing and believing in those traditions again.
“People laughed when I said I wanted to take us back into Europe again – but I did.
“I didn’t have a penny to spend, every year I had to sell players, but we kept building because we brought players through from within and really believed in them and believed in the style of play. I haven’t seen that over the last few years.
“For me, you don’t go out just to win. That sounds silly, but what I’m saying is you go out looking to perform and then the win should be a by-product of that. You have to believe in the players and encourage them to express themselves. That’s what fans pay their money for.”
Burley added: “I want people to believe in this club. And I want people to believe it can still be ambitious, even in the current financial landscape, because it can be done. I’ve seen it. I’ve done it myself.
“It really gets to me when people keep saying Ipswich are over-achieving and that just staying in the Championship is a success. This is still my club, still a big club and I want to see a little bit more ambition about it.
“It’s been really sad to see the attendances down to 13,500. I hate seeing so much apathy about the place.
“Improvements won’t happen overnight. Building blocks will slowly need to be put in place and that’s been part of my frustration. You aren’t building when you have seven, eight, nine loan players every year. Fans will be on side again if they can see something slowly being pieced together.”