‘I have all the credentials’ – Burley applies for Town job and has Butcher lined up as assistant
- Credit: PA
Ipswich Town legend George Burley has formally applied for the vacant manager’s position at his beloved Blues – and lined up Terry Butcher as his assistant – insisting he has ‘all the credentials’.
The Scot, now aged 61, first joined Town as a 15-year-old and went on to make almost 400 appearance for the club during the halcyon days of the ‘70s and ‘80s – an era which included FA Cup and UEFA Cup triumphs under Sir Bobby Robson.
He returned as Blues boss in 1994 and, at the fourth attempt in the play-offs, led the Blues to promotion (1999/00) followed by a remarkable fifth place finish in the Premiership (2000/01).
After subsequent spells in charge of Derby, Hearts, Southampton, Scotland and Cypriot side Apollon Limassol, Burley was an unsuccessful applicant for the Blues job when Mick McCarthy was appointed back in November 2012.
The former right-back moved back to Ipswich from London four years ago to be nearer his daughter and grandsons and, along with Bawdsey-based Butcher – his former Town team-mate and Scotland assistant – he has been a regular at Portman Road.
Speaking to the EADT and Ipswich Star last month, Burley said Town should try and appoint Blackburn Rovers manager Tony Mowbray this summer but added he would do anything to help if contacted.
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“Everyone has kept asking me about it and, after much consideration, I’ve applied,” said Burley. “And I’d have Terry Butcher working with me too. Just like me he’s got the club in his blood, lives in Suffolk, and is desperate to see better times.
“People might say I have been out of the game for a while, but I have lived in Ipswich for the last four years and been at virtually every home game so I understand the current mood and what is required going forwards.
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“I’ve been working with the LMA (League Managers’ Association) and helping select manager of the month for the last few years. I’ve been watching more football than ever before.”
He continued: “I know it is not an easy job. I know there will be financial restraints in a tough league. And I know people might want to see a new face. But I do feel I have all the credentials and that the glove fits.
“Ipswich is my club – that’s the bottom line. I’m part of the Ipswich family through and through. I came here as a 15-year-old, made my debut at 17 and was here 14 years as a player, then nine years as manager. I’m a fan.
“The owner has made it clear that bringing through players from the academy is the way this club is going to progress and, let’s be honest, no-one has a better CV than mine when it comes to youth development.
“At Ipswich it was Richard Wright, Kieron Dyer, James Scowcroft, Titus Bramble, Darren Ambrose, Richard Naylor... At Southampton it was Gareth Bale, Theo Walcott, Adam Lallana, David McGoldrick, Bartosz Bialkowski... At Crystal Palace I gave Wilfried Zaha his debut.
“Bringing youngsters through hasn’t really happened at Ipswich over the last 10 years in terms of players becoming regulars. So often we’ve seen a young player get two or three games and then we might not see them again for a year. I think that can have an adverse effect on their development.
“I think you have to stick with young players and really work with them on the training field to get the maximum out of them. That, for me, hasn’t happened enough in the last 10 years.”
Sunday’s season finale at home to Middlesbrough falls on the 40th anniversary of Town’s famous FA Cup underdog win against Arsenal at Wembley. The club have labelled it ‘78 Day’ and several of the team from that day – including Burley – will be meeting fans before the game and then presented on the pitch at half-time.
“Fans haven’t been happy with the type of football that has been played,” said Burley. “I was brought up under Bobby Robson, Bobby Ferguson and Charlie Woods playing the Ipswich way and I took that into management.
“The team has been working very hard under Mick McCarthy, and you can’t knock the team spirit, but I think the fans want to see something a little bit different.”
Asked how he would describe ‘the Ipswich way’, Burley said: “For players to express themselves and enjoy themselves on the pitch and be a positive, passing team. Bobby Ferguson, who sadly passed away recently, drilled that passing ethos into us every single day.
“I don’t think the basics of passing have been pushed into the players enough. You’ve got to set a standard. I look at some players and think ‘son, you can’t pass the ball, you need to work on the basics’.”
He continued: “Chris Hogg (his son-in-law) is working in the academy. I would say that around 50% of the academy staff have worked under myself at some stage actually – from Bryan Klug and George Williams to ex-players like Titus Bramble, Kieron Dyer and James Scowcroft and various other behind-the-scenes staff. I know the club inside out.”
Burley added: “For me, it’s important to try and build something at this club again because, for a while now, there hasn’t been that sense.
“I hate always hearing that Ipswich have been ‘over-achieving’. This is a club that was in Europe virtually every year when I was a player. When I came back as a manager everyone laughed when I said that the goal was to get back there – but we did.
“Why can’t we get in the play-offs? Why can’t we get back in the Premier League? You’ve got to have ambition otherwise what’s the point?”