Never has the arrival of an academy director been so exciting

The signing of the summer? Chief football writer STUART WATSON gives his take on coach Bryan Klug’s emotional return to Ipswich Town as academy director.

NEVER has the arrival of an academy director been so exciting.

Bryan Klug may not be the goalkeeper, centre-back or striker so many Ipswich Town fans are desperate to see arrive at Portman Road, but he is the appointment that indicates Ipswich Town really do mean it when they say they want to return to their valued traditions.

Last season it was not just the results on the pitch that left so many Blues fans increasingly angry, frustrated, disappointed and despondent about their club – traits that are so rare in a set of supporters who are vastly more patient than most. It was more a case that they couldn’t see any light at the end of the tunnel.

With the famous Ipswich Town ethos of developing local talent, at least you always had the feeling that a return to the good days could be just around the corner – all it would take was for a decent crop of youngsters to emerge.

However, with players at the wrong end of their careers filling the first team, homegrown players like Luke Hyam and Josh Carson finding their chances limited and only a handful of players seemingly good enough to make it following on behind them, there were few positives to cling onto following yet another disappointing Championship campaign.

The application for ‘Category Two’ status under the new Elite Player Performance Plan did little to convince fans otherwise, even though it will see the academy receive extra investment of at least �1m a year.

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And while manager Paul Jewell insisted that he would be radically changing his policy towards youth, few remained convinced – even when he did make 18-year-old Elliott Hewitt his first summer addition.

With the reclusive Marcus Evans in charge, Klug’s sudden sacking during the Roy Keane era was seen by many fans as another knife in the heart of their club’s traditions.

His return is now hopefully proof that there will indeed be some substance to this promise of a return to the long-term approach which always made supporters proud to be a Blue.

Ex-skipper Matt Holland said it best when he tweeted: “ITFC have made their best signing of the summer by bringing Bryan Klug back as academy director.”

Few would disagree.