What might have been

MEET the man who could have had Ipswich Town celebrating a return to the Premier League rather than staring down the barrel of two humiliating defeats over a grim Easter weekend.

He might be the manager Ipswich Town fans love to hate but Neil Warnock came tantalisingly close to taking over the Blues’ hot-seat before masterminding a promotion push at QPR.

Former Town star James Scowcroft has revealed how Warnock quizzed him about places to live in Suffolk before the club chose Roy Keane.

History has shown that, under the Irishman, Ipswich endured a barren 18 months while Warnock went on to QPR who will next season be starring in the Premier League – barring a miraculous set of results over the next 10 days.

Scowcroft, who played under Warnock at Crystal Palace, said: “Neil was one of the names mentioned when Jim Magilton left and he came up to me one day and asked me about where was nice to live in the county. Knowing Neil, I think it was said in a tongue-in-cheek way but I think there was something concrete in it.”

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And Scowcroft is clear where Ipswich would be had they appointed Warnock in April 2009 saying: “They would be in the Premiership, I have no doubt about it.

“Warnock has probably spent a third of what Ipswich have in recent years and he has got an outstanding team. He knows this league pretty much better than anyone and he has also recruited some players who know the division like Shaun Derry and Clint Hill. And who knows, we might even have had Adel Taarabt at Portman Road. Instead, Town appointed Roy Keane and the rest is history.”

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After Monday’s 1-1 draw against Hull City, Warnock’s QPR need just one point to achieve promotion – and probably the title – while Ipswich are currently languishing 13th in the Championship.

Whether Town fans would have warmed to Warnock is another matter after the fiery Yorkshireman became public enemy number one at Portman Road while manager of Sheffield United.

And even after two horror shows where Norwich and Swansea showed Town the way for next season, it is impossible to dwell on ‘what if?’

Paul Jewell, who Scowcroft has backed to build stability and then momentum next season, is now under no illusions about the scale of his task and reports that he was back at Roots Hall watching Southend’s Kane Ferdinand just 18 hours after Thursday’s derby day humiliation should be applauded.

But 18 months before Jewell decided to take on such a mammoth task, things could have been very different.

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