Nigel Reo-Coker wants to invoke the ‘Crazy Gang’ spirit at Ipswich Town
NIGEL Reo-Coker has quickly settled into the Ipswich Town dressing room – comparing the atmosphere to that of the so-called ‘Crazy Gang’ he was part of at Wimbledon as a youngster.
Having been without a club since invoking a relegation release clause at former club Bolton in the summer, the 28-year-old signed a three-month contract with the Blues last weekend.
The former West Ham and Aston Villa captain still harbours ambitions of returning to the Premier League come January, but to do so he knows he needs to help Ipswich climb away from the foot of the Championship table over the coming weeks.
And the all-action midfielder is confident that can happen, starting today at Hull City, having been impressed by the spirit among his new team-mates this week.
“It is a bit different but it has got the same Wimbledon atmosphere,” said Reo-Coker, comparing his new club to the team he captained as a 19-year-old.
“You need that family environment in any successful football club where everyone gets along very well and there are no big egos in the dressing room. That togetherness in the dressing room and training ground can be taken onto the pitch.
“I was there as a youngster when John Hartson came and they burnt his clothes on the first day. Robbie Earle was there, Neil Shipperley, David Connolly, Ben Thatcher – it was like Crazy Gang mark two. They were some of the best times in my career, because that is when I learnt about football.
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“There were quite a few things happen to me when I was a youth team player. Lee Martin was with me at Wimbledon and we played a few tricks on him when he was younger. We’ve already had a good reminisce about those days.
“Football was football back then. It is nothing about the foreign influence that has now come into the game, but they just don’t have that passion that English players have.
“You need that team spirit. I think that old-days ‘Crazy Gang’ passion is what is lacking in football nowadays.”
He continued: “It is nice how the game has developed. A lot more countries are focused on passing and moving – that is the modern take on football. Obviously you have Spain, but also Ukraine and Romania, they have all developed that passing game. But I still think you need that bit of British mentality – the team spirit, togetherness, that brotherhood. I think that is missing in a lot of modern-day dressing rooms.”
Reflecting on Ipswich’s return of just seven points from the opening 10 games of the Championship season, Reo-Coker – who came close to joining French giants Monaco recently – said: “I wouldn’t classify it as a relegation battle, we haven’t even gone past January yet. It is very early in this league.
“The experience I have had in this league is priceless. I know what it takes to get out of this situation and it needs a positive frame of mind. I have enjoyed training, the spirits are very high. We must have the confidence and belief to win every game we go into.”