Bow out now Jim - you must go

IT'S time for Jim Magilton to go.Magilton should leave the football club he has served with such passion and pride for the last ten years.

By Terry Hunt, EADT Editor

IT'S time for Jim Magilton to go.

Magilton should leave the football club he has served with such passion and pride for the last ten years, before his status as an Ipswich Town legend becomes forgotten amid growing unrest among Blues supporters.

He must pay the price for presiding over the most disappointing, dull, and directionless season for decades at Portman Road. As manager, he has been given two precious assets - time and money - but there has been little or no obvious progress on the pitch.

So, with the best interests of the football club at heart, this newspaper calls for the Magilton era to come to an end, preferably with Jim doing the honourable thing and resigning. His departure would give his successor time this season to assess the strengths and weaknesses in the squad before the promised cash becomes available for further signings in the summer.

Magilton has many qualities. He was an Ipswich Town icon as a player: who could ever forget the hat-trick against Bolton in the play-off semi-final in 2000 to send Town to Wembley? He also made a promising start as a rookie manager, but this season it has become increasingly and painfully obvious that he is not the man to take Ipswich back to the Premier League.

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As mentioned earlier, he has been given far more time than many managers. He is coming to the end of his third season. In the ruthless world of football, owner Marcus Evans is to be applauded for showing such restraint. But the time for change has arrived.

Thanks to Evans buying the club, Magilton has also had money to spend. He has used the �12 million to assemble what he clearly believes is a squad of players capable of challenging for promotion. That has been the fans' expectation as well.

But the results, and especially the performances, have been hugely disappointing. Town have all too often performed like a very average Championship side, with the inevitable result that they are mid-table, with any play-off aspirations fading fast.

Player for player, in terms of raw talent, this squad should be in or around the top six. But, individually and collectively, they are underachieving. For whatever reason, Magilton appears to be unable to get the best from them. Worst of all, there is so little passion in their displays.

Then there are the baffling tactics and formations. All too often we see square pegs in round holes: a right-back playing on the left, a central midfielder playing wide, last season's star man, Jonathan Walters, playing in a variety of positions. Players who appear to be fixtures in the side then disappear from the squad altogether. It mystifies the fans, and it seems to confuse the players too.

Finally, there is Magilton's apparent reluctance to give youth its head. Ipswich Town has the finest tradition of developing its own young stars, from Kevin Beattie in the 1970s to Kieron Dyer in the 1990s, with a wealth of talent in between.

But the production line seems to have virtually stopped, and Magilton appears to have little faith in the starlets we do have. Why, for example, is a goalscorer like Jordan Rhodes plying his trade on loan at Brentford when Town are so desperately short of firepower?

I have been an Ipswich supporter for more than 40 years, and it is with a heavy heart that I write this piece. I bear Jim no ill-will at all. But, like thousands of other supporters, my first priority is to see my team enjoying success, preferably in the top flight.

At the moment, under Magilton, it feels as though we are merely wasting time, treading water if you like. There has been no discernible progress in the year since the Evans takeover, despite the money.

Of course, Magilton and the squad might use this article as the motivation to go on a winning run, storming up the table into a play-off place. If that happened, then no-one would be more delighted than me. Sadly, on the current evidence, I think there is very little chance of it coming about.

No, it is time for Jim to go, preferably on his own terms, with his head held high and his pride intact, and with his status as a Portman Road legend still safe.