Magilton tries to repair team spirit

BELEAGUERED Blues boss Jim Magilton is today trying to repair damage to his dressing room spirit after a secret meeting threatens to split his camp.

Derek Davis

BELEAGUERED Blues boss Jim Magilton is today trying to repair damage to his dressing room spirit after a secret meeting threatens to split his camp.

The under-fire manager was left with a number of disgruntled players after the contents of the meeting called with eight of his senior players leaked out, causing upset on the eve of Ipswich Town's trip to Norwich City, which ended in defeat.

The meeting was apparently used by Magilton to gee up a favoured few. However, it is believed more than a couple of those invited were not happy at what was going on and word soon got back to the remainder of the squad.

Magilton was asked to explain what was going on by a couple of those who were not present, but were told they were free to leave the club in the January window.

The favoured few are understood to have been Gareth McAuley, David Norris, Richard Wright, David Wright, Veliche Shumulikoski, Owen Garvan, Jon Walters and Shane Supple.

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One of the players not invited to the meeting, who asked not to be identified for fear of a backlash from the club, said:

“It was supposed to go ahead without the others knowing. They were told not to say anything about it, but some of the players who went along weren't comfortable with it and spoke about it afterwards.

“The gaffer apparently told the group they were the players he envisaged being the backbone of his team and having a long-term future with him.”

Although the squad has tried to present a united front in public, the dressing room is understood to be split on Magilton's managerial style with individual rifts between certain players not helping team spirit.

Town go to Coventry City on Saturday on the back of three straight away losses and a 2-1 home defeat by Cardiff City.

Although Magilton has been constantly reassured by chief executive Derek Bowden and owner Marcus Evans that his job is safe until at least the end of the season, and he is under no time constraints to win promotion to the Premier League, there is widespread discontent among Ipswich supporters.

Many can not understand why popular defender Alex Bruce, currently serving a four-match ban, has not been offered a contract despite being free to talk to clubs, along with 13 other players including midfielder Tommy Miller and club captain Richard Naylor.

Their long-term futures look in doubt, as do plans to keep on-loan players Moritz Volz who is still technically a Fulham player but is out of contract next summer, and Darren Ambrose who could return to Charlton in January.

It is believed trio of strikers Pablo Counago, Kevin Lisbie and Jon Stead were also omitted from the get-together and questions will be asked if Magilton intends to move one or more of them on next year.

Magilton has also been criticised in some quarters, including for Manchester United star and Stoke City manager Lou Macari for allowing his players to go to Dublin for a two-day Christmas party.

Although the trip was paid for by the players themselves and the manager and coaches did not go, Magilton has been a castigated for allowing them to time off, traditional among all football clubs at this time of the year.

It is understood that not all the first team squad went with around 10 staying behind for a variety of reasons, including sickness and family commitments.

Crowds have dwindled again this season after fall in average attendances last season, and Town have failed to live up to expectations. They are 12th in the Championship table at the midway point of the season.