'From the outside it looks silly' - Chaplin on why he dropped down for Town
- Credit: ITFC
New Ipswich Town signing Conor Chaplin has decided to leave a club which just finished in the Championship play-off spots to come to a side which has struggled in League One for two seasons. Here, he explains why...
Conor Chaplin knows that, to an outsider, his decision to leave Barnsley for Ipswich looks an odd one - at least on paper.
The Tykes finished fifth in the second tier last season, before losing to Swansea in the play-off semi-finals. Chaplin was a key member of the side, playing 39 times and scoring four goals.
Meanwhile Town, as we know all too well, have been struggling to adjust to life in League One, failing to mount a serious promotion push in either of their two seasons in the third tier so far.
But, with new American owners, a new boardroom line-up and a boss with multiple promotions on his CV, times are hopefully a-changing at Portman Road.
And Chaplin, the tenth signing of a Suffolk summer like no other, is happy to be on board the new-look HMS Ipswich Town, a ship bristling with attacking options and physical threats.
"From the outside it looks silly, jumping from the Championship to League One but, first and foremost this is a massive football club," he told iFollow Ipswich.
"I know that the ambition, having spoken to people at the football club, the ambition that's here is exciting.
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"That's something that excites me. As a player, you always want to play in good teams, teams that are ambitious and want to go places, so that's something that really drew me to the club, along with the manager as well."
Cook, as Chaplin says, was certainly another major draw. The two worked together at Portsmouth, where Chaplin burst onto the scene as a young player, scoring eight goals as Pompey got promoted from League Two in 2016/17.
"The first couple of years at Pompey were really good - individually, and obviously we got promotion as well," Chaplin said.
"It was a good two/three year induction into professional football.
"Two really good years together (with Cook)at Portsmouth. Successful like I say, with promotion. That's what the manager was there for and that's what we all wanted at the club.
"We were able to achieve that and we can look back with fond memories together as well."
He added: ""I know the way the gaffer likes to work and the style of play he likes to implement, so that's something which excites me.
"To drop down a division as well, the ambition of the club was something that really excited me.
"I don't want to play in League One for longer than I have to. I've obviously had that experience in the Championship, which has made me hungry to play more there and stay.
"That's what I want, coming here. The ambition from the club matches the ambition that I've got, so that's something that I can't wait to start working hard towards and make happen."
Cook, for his part, has described Chaplin as 'probably the best finisher I ever worked with.' Heady praise indeed, and words which mean much will be expected of the versatile attacker, who's still only 24.
"No pressure!" Chaplin laughs. "We had a really good time together, always got on well and since then we've stayed in touch on text messages, wishing each other well.
"He's someone that I really enjoyed playing for, someone that gets the best out of his players and there's no grey areas either, which is really important for me.
"I really like that style, I really like that style of play as well that he likes to implement, so I can't wait."
It wasn't just Cook and ambition that brought Chaplin to Portman Road either. An ex-Blue also played a big part.
"Adam Webster was very, very complimentary about the club and the place in general," Chaplin said of the former Town defender, whom he played with at Pompey.
"He really loved living here and playing for the club as well.
"He spoke very highly about the professionalism at the club, and that's something I'm really into as well, so he only had good things to say about the football club."
Sitting at Portman Road as Town's latest signing brought back happy memories for Chaplin, who's only visited the famous old ground once before.
He explained: "I've played at Portman Road before, in League Two with Portsmouth, in the FA Cup.
"I scored and my family were all here in the away end so it was special memories coming back - the first time I've been back since.
"I can't wait (to play here again). I'm aware of the amount of season tickets that have been sold and it's going to be unbelievable come next Saturday.
"I'm really excited, fingers crossed it comes quickly now!"
Asked what he'll bring to the new-look Town team, he replied: "I think first and foremost, I like to work hard for the team, for my team-mates, for the manager, for the football club and the fans.
"I think that's the bare minimum and I pride myself on that. If it doesn't go your way you've always got that to fall back on.
"And secondly, I like to think that I can be a gamechanger in terms of goals, assists, passes, moments in games that make a difference.
"That's where I see myself and hopefully I can make a difference in games this season and make sure that we're firing in the right direction."