Where do Town go from here?

WHAT now for Ipswich Town and Jim Magilton?After two years in charge the Blues are still no nearer to the Premier League, although finishing eighth does represent some improvement under the garrulous Irishman.

Derek Davis

WHAT now for Ipswich Town and Jim Magilton?

After two years in charge the Blues are still no nearer to the Premier League, although finishing eighth does represent some improvement under the garrulous Irishman.

It can only be assumed that owner Marcus Evans will abide by the wishes of chairman David Sheepshanks, chief executive Derek Bowden and the third member of the old guard on the current board Kevin Beeston, and stick with Magilton. This will allow him to take charge of his 100th match in charge at the start of the new season.

But the manager will be only too aware that his team needs to show further improvement right from the off next season and be in the top six, or at least seriously knocking on the door, by the time the shops start selling Christmas goodies.

Most clubs will give their manager a dozen games into the new season before start looking at results and performances. Magilton can expect at least that and possibly even until the end of November before the board starts getting jittery if things are not going well.

Most Read

Judging by the standard of the Championship, and the random nature of results for the most part, this season was probably as good a chance of going up as any.

It may be that the new campaign will be just as tight with teams nicking points off each other all the way to the end.

With the extra investment pumped in by Marcus Evans Town should be able to compete in the summer market and Magilton's wheeling and dealing prowess will be tested.

His January signings have been average at best.

The most expensive, David Norris at £2.2m, struggled before finally succumbing to a heel injury.

Much will be expected of him when he returns in pre-season after Magilton, all but staked his reputation on the former Plymouth midfielder by ear-marking him as his number one target from day one.

Alan Quinn, Velice Sumulikoski, Stephen Bywater and Nick Colgan, have hardly set the place alight and while all look decent, they have yet to show they can be Premier League class for Town.

And it is Premier League quality that Magilton has to be aiming to bring in during the transfer window.

He can get away with signing at tops one or two from the lower leagues, if they can prove to be as good as Jon Walters bought for a song from Chester City, but to be challenging at the top you need top players.

The famed youth system may provide one or two to provide competition, Jordan Rhodes is making good progress, while Kurt Robinson and Tommy Smith may push into the 16.

It is more likely that they, and the likes of Liam Trotter, will be sent out on loan.

While Magilton will not look to make wholesale changes it is clear the current squad are not good enough and reinforcements are needed.

It has been totally apparent that Town need a new centre half, and even though Alex Bruce has improved this year, the skipper Jason de Vos has been found wanting too often.

He stood out against Hull but admitted himself his days are numbered and announced his retirement.

There have been games, usually when teams pump the ball up, that he has dominated in the air, but anything around his feet has been his, and Town's undoing.

Magilton did manage to bring in a loan full-back Danny Simpson but the young right back will go back and David Wright should take his rightful place in that position, but that raises question marks about the left back slot.

It is clear Dan Harding does not figure in Magliton's plans and will be moved on if they can find a taker. Sito Castro proved a popular stop-gap and is likely to be offered a year-long deal but whether he will take it knowing he will not be regular starter, is another matter.

Left side of midfield has also been a weak spot, even though Quinn filled in gallantly he doesn't look the answer and a natural left footed player there may be the answer.

Up front Alan Lee was linked with moves away to Hull ironically, and later Burnley, with Magilton saying he would be prepared to sell, so it is possible he will be on the move this summer.

It would be a surprise if Shefki Kuqi was offered a permanent deal. His best days are clearly behind him and not the standard of cover Town need.

Walters, Danny Haynes and Owen Garvan are bound to be the subject of speculation and while Magilton will try to keep them.

He needs at least one, if not two extra, quality forwards and the likes of David Healy, Jason Roberts, Stern John and Jason Scotland, could all be in the reckoning.

The goalkeeping situation will be resolved if Town keep Bywater and Colgan, with Shane Supple also in the frame, although Town may target another big name keeper during the summer.

But the biggest thing Magilton needs to address is the appalling away form.

By changing players that may help but it is the mind set that needs seriously adjusting and getting a new psychologist is one definite solution.

The Blues ended the season on a high and, like last year, will want to maintain that momentum going into the new season keeping the home form and improving things on their travels.

Spending wisely is a must and a look at the back room staff may be needed for Magilton's to secure his very own future.