Fans right to have a go

BLUES skipper Jim Magilton has vowed to lead the Blues back on the path to the play-offs and get supporters cheering instead of jeering.Magilton accepts the barracking from the disgruntled Blues' crowd is fully warranted but believes it is down to the players to put things right.

By Derek Davis

BLUES skipper Jim Magilton has vowed to lead the Blues back on the path to the play-offs and get supporters cheering instead of jeering.

Magilton accepts the barracking from the disgruntled Blues' crowd is fully warranted but believes it is down to the players to put things right.

Magilton said: “If people voice their opinion in the correct manner, then it should be allowed, although it is not the most constructive thing to do.

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“People have every right to be angry. They pay their money and our performances for the 19,000 season ticket holders have not been good enough.

“So, if I was a supporter, I would voice my opinion in the correct manner, as these fans seemed to have done.

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“No one likes criticism, and I'm sure the chairman, the manager, staff and players have all had a good, long hard look at themselves.

“It is not good enough at the moment and we know we are better than we have shown. It is going to come down to hard work and getting belief back into the squad, because supporters have every right to expect better performances.”

The united dressing room is fully behind manager Joe Royle and coaches Willie Donachie and Steve McCall, but is aware of the growing discontentment among supporters.

Magilton said: “I hear the calls to sack the chairman but what is the alternative? The chairman is a supporter, first and foremost, and always has been. He loves this club and he has done everything in his power to make it as well-run a football club as it is.

“I don't get involved in the politics but I know this. If supporters are giving the chairman stick, then that is because the team is not good enough and that directly involves me. Because, if we are not doing well enough, then we have to look at ourselves.

“When things are going well, we are all getting pats on the back and praise but, when things don't go so well, you find people get particularly negative and need to find a scapegoat. That scapegoat at the moment is the chairman. He is at the helm and supporters are picking on him.”

The mirrors in all dressing rooms are always well used but vanity will have been pushed aside lately, as Town players queue up to take a reflective look on their own individual form of late.

None more so than Magilton, who has needed cortisone injections in an arthritic toe to keep him playing but he has been less than happy with how he has performed.

Magilton said: “I'm not going to use the toe as an excuse. Yes, I have had injections and I have had to play with some pain, but then, who doesn't? As leader of this pack, I know I have not reached the standards I expect of myself and of those around me.

“I know I can do better but I also know that, when we have a fully fit squad, then whether I'm involved or not is for the manager. It has not helped that my season has been a bit stop-start but I know I can contribute more but it is down to me to find that and, in order not to be taken off, I know I have to play better.

“To lead by example you have to be playing well and, no matter what your status, you have to be performing and, if we are not getting results, then something has to give.”

The 36-year-old Magilton will pack in playing for the Blues when his contract expires next summer but has no intention of going out with a whimper.

He added: “This is definitely my last season here as a player and I would not want to leave with things as they are. I want to go with me playing better than I am and with the club in a much healthier position.”

With thoughts of a possible coaching role somewhere in the future, he is also keen to help find a solution to Town's present woes and is convinced the answer lies within the group of players already here, bolstered by a couple of quality signings that could soon be arriving.

Good results at Brighton on Saturday, followed quickly by something at Derby next Wednesday, could put a whole new complexion on matters.

Magilton said: “Every day in training I know those people have got those standards required but we all need to show it on the park. We need to get a win and turn things around. We know that a week is a long time in football and two wins can turn your season around.

“We got together on Monday and we ironed out a few problems. We know we have to find something within the dressing room and we have to cajole each other, be positive and do what is needed.

“The manager doesn't have pots of money to make big changes, so he is going to have to wheel and deal and he has used his experienced and knowledge to do that in the past couple of years.

“He has brought in loan players, who have given us that injection we need and at the right time, so he is going to have to do that again.”

Magilton vowed to lead his team out of their current slump and back towards play-off contention. First, though, the Irish midfielder admits he needs to get his own form sorted out to warrant a place in the side.

Magilton was substituted in the defeats by Reading and Watford and admitted the never-ending list of injuries has not helped Town, with three midfielders currently out of action, but Magilton will not use that to mask recent inadequacies.

He said: “They are valid excuses, but the 13 players involved on Saturday are all capable of performing better than we did.

“Myself, as skipper, I know I need to have a hard look at myself. My performances have been well below par. The players expect me to lead them, and I enjoy that responsibility, but, first and foremost, I have to perform better.

“Just because I wear the armband, that doesn't mean I have a divine right to play and the manager has shown he is not afraid to haul me off if it is not going the way it should be going.

“I will look at myself and I know we have honest enough players here to do that as well. The thing is, though, we have to remain positive, because it is the players who are going to have to turn it around.”

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