Jim's 'bible' is The Ipswich Way

WHILE the bible according to Jim Magilton remains work in progress, the Blues boss gives the most revealing insight into his footballing philosophy to chief football writer DEREK DAVIS who finds out exactly what is 'The Ipswich Way'.

Derek Davis

WHILE the bible according to Jim Magilton remains work in progress, the Blues boss gives the most revealing insight into his footballing philosophy to chief football writer DEREK DAVIS who finds out exactly what is 'The Ipswich Way'.

IF trying to ensure a fourth star is stitched to the famous Blue's shirt is not enough for Jim Magilton, the garrulous Irishman has set out to write his version of the Ipswich Town bible.

The tome will be an in depth explanation of everything that makes Ipswich Town the unique club it has evolved to become and hopes to remain while embracing a modicum of change.


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Working with chairman David Sheepshanks and drawing on the experiences and examples set by previous managers Magilton has set about producing the manuscript that can be given to all members of staff and for all new players to use as a way of understanding the club.

Just the mention of the project lifts Magilton from the comfy sofa in his office and his eyes light up.

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“It is based on the ethos of the football club and what the traditions of the club are,” he purrs.

“In a way the tradition is set in stone anyway, how we look after people and the conduct of the staff and players right through to how we want the club portrayed to the outside world.

“It includes my thoughts on the game and how I would like my team to pay.

“It is about training methods and the work ethic throughout the football club.”

The idea was firmly rooted in Magilton's mind from his first day in charge and after seeing a similar idea done by Sam Allardyce it grew.

Magilton said: “I have seen Bolton's 'bible' and it has given me ideas and I know Ipswich used to give players a booklet when they signed.

“I remember when I signed and the chairman, along with George (Burley) outlined his thoughts on where the club was going and it shook me a little because it was the first time I had even sat with a chairman of a football club never mind hearing that and it was fantastic.

“It struck me then that you were buying into more than just a contract. It is almost like a covenant between club and player that everyone agrees is the right way to go about things.

“Usually you sign and you are just relieved but this was more than that.”

While it may appear easy to understand the Ipswich Way it is not easy to succinctly describe although Magilton is beginning to put it succinctly.

He said: “The Ipswich way is being respectful

“Being supportive and being able to hold a conversation, with reasonable intellect.

“From a football perspective - being able to pass and control a ball for start.”

Throughout the industry Ipswich has become a by-word for playing and behaving in a certain way and the legacy helped by men like Sir Alf Ramsey, Sir Bobby Robson, and other has helped shape that.

Magilton said: “The way players are expected to conduct themselves has probably not changed since the days of Sir Alf, never mind Sir Bobby.

“You go to watch a game and people will say 'he's an Ipswich town player'. I used to think what does that mean but now I know

“I have manager's ring me up and say he is an Ipswich town footballer, conversely I have had other managers say he is not an Ipswich Town footballer but he is what you need.

“There may be some we have brought in that don't tick all the boxes of being an 'Ipswich Town player' but there is a need for different characters in a team.”

Not that Magilton wants to just copy what has gone on before without some evolution and building a team, and moulding the club, in his style is important.

Magilton said: “My own philosophy on the game is not much different to Sir Alf, Sir Bobby, George and even Joe (Royle). I will do it differently to how they did, but the end product will be the same because we want success.

“I will go about it by playing our style of football, to try and bring in quality players that will carry that forward.

“I will be judged by the players I bring in and ultimately results.

“Success or failure will not deter me from doing it my way, whether people think it is the proper way or not it is the way I want it done.

“I like to see a vibrancy around the football club. If you walk into any successful club there is a sense of urgency, a sense of getting things done. Every day is important and no matter on a Monday morning if we have won people will be lifted, while if we have lost we will be down but either the way the sense of purpose should remain the same.”

Being a no-nonsense boy from the back streets of Belfast, Magilton knows not everyone will automatically buy into the whole 'bible' thing.

He said: “It is nice to give a player when they come to the club. It very rarely happens at other football clubs.

“You come to a club and players soon buy into the day-to-day running but while some may consider it a bit of gobbledegook it is good to be able to give a player something that outlines how the club wants to be seen.

“Some may put it in the back of the car and never look at it but many will look at it and we can say this is your bible, the Ipswich Town manuscript and help them see how we go about our business.”

Although Magilton is spending hours on putting this together, and aggravating his wife and children with bits of appear and pages spread out all over the floor, he insists it is not a tyrannical exercise.

He said: “It is not my way and no other one person's way. It is the Ipswich way and the fine traditions of this club.

“Whoever comes in, or whatever happens, the core values remain the same.”

If Magilton can add another trophy to the Football league championship title, when Town were the best in the country, the FA Cup and the UEFA Cup, then it will make another chapter in the Blues' rich tapestry but the bible outlining the Ipswich Way will in itself be a testament to past, present and future.

IF any one person currently playing for Town epitomises Ipswich Town it has to be club captain Richard Naylor and that is precisely why Jim Magilton made him club captain.

Magilton said: “Bam Bam was brought up on the ethos of the football club and he was brought up knowing how important it is to conduct yourself professionally every day and be there for any individual that needs help.

“You will need a crowbar to get him out of here and he has earned the right to be this club's captain.”

And Magilton insists having a reclusive owner is not at odds with the Ipswich Way.

He said: “The common denominator between the Cobbold's and Marcus Evans is they all wanted success.

“It may have been all jolly social and drinking wine, but they wanted success.

“Marcus is the same, has not bought this club to be a Championship club he has bought it to be a Premier League club.”

While Magilton stresses the strength of the club comes from the dressing room, he insists the unsung heroes in the background are an important constant.

He said: “A football club is driven by players - they set the tome.

“Most of the people who work at this football club are from the greater Suffolk area so they know the tradition and history of the club.

“So from a staff point of view it is easy to continue the tradition. From a coaching staff point of view it is important for us to bring in people with the mental strength and ability to carry that on. We all have a voice at the club and that is important.”

As an example Magilton uses a club he knows well, Liverpool, where he did his apprenticeship the old fashioned way.

“Someone told me once that Liverpool used Ipswich Town as a comparison and a role model for how they conducted their business.

“In a slightly smaller scale Ipswich is similar to Liverpool in the way they are run in terms of pride and conduct.

Pride in your football club, pride in your shirt and what it stands for and pride in the way you go about your business.

“That was instilled in meat an early age at Liverpool and when people said they would give their right arm to be in our position at Anfield they meant it and that should be the same here at Ipswich and I insist it should be the same.”

He wants to instil the same sort of desire to join Ipswich as some many aspiring young footballers have to join Liverpool.

He said: “We need to make it so that lads as far away as West Ham territory, Colchester wherever will say I'll do anything to sign for Ipswich Town.

“We have a tradition of bringing players through and supporters here love to see their home grown player.”

It continues to work too, with Liam Trotter, Danny Haynes, Owen Garvan, Tommy Smith, Chris Casement and Shane Supple, all involved in the squad going to Burnley today.

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