Eight reasons why the Ipswich Town job will appeal to an up-and-coming manager
- Credit: Picture: Steve Waller
Ipswich Town’s new manager may not have millions to spend, but much about the job will appeal. STUART WATSON analyses why the Blues will prove a lure.
This Town squad may have its limitations, but there is some genuine quality.
There are few who would argue that Bartosz Bialkowski is not the best keeper in the division, while no player was involved in more Championship goals in 2017/18 than striker Martyn Waghorn (scored 16, assisted 11). Most second-tier clubs would take those two in a heartbeat.
People were cooing over Adam Webster’s ball-playing ability not so long ago and hailing him as a classy Premier League centre-back in the making.
And it shouldn’t be forgotten that twinkle-toed midfielder Teddy Bishop had a whole host of top-flight clubs tracking his progress during the breakthrough season of 2014/15, with the hope being that he can rediscover that form after two years of injury hell.
Talking of players returning from long-term injuries, Emyr Huws will be just like a new signing. The Welsh international’s creativity and drive was badly missed last season. We’ll get onto Andre Dozzell in a moment.
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If – and it’s a big if – Town can keep everyone fit, following their annus horribilis on the injury front, then there is decent competition for places in most areas of the squad.
So often a new manager’s first job is to remove the bad eggs – that will not be required.
Senior professionals look after and guide the youngsters rather than feeling threatened or leading them astray. Everyone is polite, respectful and stops to shake hands. There is bags of team spirit and togetherness. It’s worlds away from the environment that Mick McCarthy inherited almost six years ago. That the Yorkshireman’s biggest legacy.
In Luke Chambers, the club has its best and most inspirational captain since the days of Matt Holland. Cole Skuse, Martyn Waghorn and Jordan Spence – to name just three – are equally positive and accessible personalities around Playford Road.
The value of this should never be underestimated.
Young duo Gerard Nash and Chris Hogg have both earned plenty of plaudits for the way they have assisted Bryan Klug during his recent caretaker spell.
Lee O’Neill leading the drive for Category One academy status has enabled Klug to be freed from administrative chores and get back on the grass developing young players and coaches alike.
The experienced Geraint Williams, a former manager in his own right, is back at the club working in a part-time capacity while much-loved former players – including Alan Lee, Kieron Dyer, Titus Bramble and James Scowcroft – are all learning their trade.
The new manager will bring an assistant to replace the void left by Terry Connor. It’s likely the club will need a new head scout too if Dave Bowman – whose official title is Director of Football – follows McCarthy to his next job.
And someone will have to take on Malcolm Webster’s duties as goalkeeping coach after his well-earned retirement.
There won’t be a huge, disruptive turnover of staff though. Such behind-the-scenes stability is key.
Crop of kids
Following a fallow period, the Playford Road production line is moving again.
Dynamic midfield trio Andre Dozzell (19), Tristan Nydam (18) and Flynn Downes (19) have all been capped at England junior level and shown they are more than ready to make the step up to the Championship.
The sky is the limit for Dozzell and he will be raring to go again after the heartache of this season being written off by a knee injury.
Downes (Luton) and Josh Emmanuel (Rotherham) will hopefully return from lower league loan spells more rounded players.
Myles Kenlock has never left the side down when played at left-back and could mature if given a run of games.
Youngsters Luke Woolfenden, Chris Smith, Barry Cotter, Ben Folami and Ben Morris have all shown their potential and all are capable of big breakthrough years.
Latitude to add
There will be significant room for manoeuvre for the new manager when it comes to recruitment.
It looks likely that silky striker David McGoldrick likely exit at the end of his contract. On one hand the Blues are losing a top-class player, but on the other it’s an injury-prone, inconsistent, big-earner off the wage bill. That money could probably be better spent in all honesty.
Luke Hyam and Kevin Bru have already departed, Stephen Gleeson and Mustapha Carayol are soon to be out of contract, while Dominic Iorfa, Cameron Carter-Vickers, Callum Connolly and Bersant Celina will return to their parent clubs.
At least one centre-back, winger and striker are required.
Fans ready for a ride
Town’s fans are desperate to be swept along for a ride. They don’t want for much – just an injection of positive rhetoric, some increased entertainment value and the sense a young team is being developed.
The new manager doesn’t need to worry about the club’s illustrious history being a millstone around their necks. There will be no expectation of a promotion push. Be humble, upbeat and make the supporters feel an important part of a journey and they will start with a shed load of goodwill.
The atmosphere and increased attendances for the last two games of the season is proof of that.
For all the talk about limited transfer funds, Marcus Evans has continually increased the wage bill and kept it competitive.
More importantly he provides his managers with the most precious of things – time and space. He believes in managerial stability and stuck with Roy Keane, Paul Jewell and Mick McCarthy as long as was possible. All three would admit their time was up.
And unlike so many other owners in the game, Evans does not crave the limelight or want to play at management himself. He lets his managers get on with the job. That, above all else, will really appeal to an up-and-coming boss carefully selecting their next step.
An added bonus is that it’s a nice part of the world to live in.
Yes, it’s a long way to travel for away games. But there is not the same national media scrutiny. And you don’t get hounded by fans like in some of football’s goldfish bowl cities.
We take for granted the extra sunshine enjoyed compared to other parts of the country.
Just look at the number of former players who have settled here – Kevin Beattie, John Wark, Alan Brazil, Terry Butcher, Mick Mills and George Burley to name just a few.