Where Magilton went wrong

IN the summer of 2006 Ipswich appointed Jim Magilton, while a few weeks later Mick McCarthy took over at Wolves.

Derek Davis

IN the summer of 2006 Ipswich appointed Jim Magilton, while a few weeks later Mick McCarthy took over at Wolves.

EADT chief football writer DEREK DAVIS explores why McCarthy succeeded in taking his club to the Premier League while Magilton has failed to even make the play-offs for the third year running.

AT the end of last season a point separated Ipswich, in eighth, from Wolves, in seventh, who in turn missed out on the play-offs on goal difference.


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Today Wolves are celebrating promotion to the Premier League and a �60m bonanza while the Blues sit in ninth knowing they will not finish any higher and could even drop as low as 15th, although that is the worst possible scenario with Cardiff on Saturday and Coventry City on the last day of the campaign.

So why have Wolves managed to do what Town were so bullish about last summer and win promotion?

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The difference clearly lies with the two managers.

When Town were looking for someone to replace Joe Royle who finished the season 15th, after he had steadily been shorn of top players and the club were bereft of the funds to even keep Ricardo Fuller, they chose the former captain Magilton.

McCarthy had been available, so too had many other experienced and proven managers, but as more and more top people turned them down, so Ipswich were left with the cheap option and hoped the passionate speaker could revive the fortunes and backed him financially to do so.

At Molineux chief executive Jez Moxey headed the selection process and presented the taciturn McCarthy to the board, explaining he had been to the play-offs with Millwall and Sunderland, never mind coped with the intense pressure of the world media as Republic of Ireland manager - Roy Keane and all that.

Wolves wanted McCarthy to do what he had achieved at Sunderland and take them back into the Premier League. At the Stadium of Light he had got them to the play-off finals, only to lose out to Crystal Palace on penalties. The following season (2004/05) he delivered and took the Black Cats back to the top flight as champions.

The Yorkshireman could not keep them up, not least because of the relatively measly �6m budget he was handed, and he was sacked in the March.

There was not much money at Wolves either and he had to go through the clearing out process and build a side from youth-teamers, free signings and lower league players. Sound familiar?

But while Magilton managed a 14th placed finish doing a similar thing at Portman Road, McCarthy took Wolves to the play-offs only to lose to West Brom. How that had to hurt and the next season McCarthy took grief from expectant fans, though handled it without alienating those he would need as friends.

He had brought in some keystone players, including Michael Kightly and Andy Keogh in the January transfer window and that would prove important.

Midway through the following year both clubs were taken over by wealthy benefactors with Liverpool-loving Steve Morgan making it clear McCarthy would have nothing like the �12m Marcus Evans would hand Magilton.

Both managers raided Plymouth Argyle. Town paid out almost �2.25m for midfielder David Norris, while McCarthy plumped for Sylvan Ebanks-Blake, a snip at �1.5m.

It was somehow fitting that Ebanks-Blake should get the goal against QPR, his 25th of the season, to secure promotion with the title highly probable.

He also bought Dave Edwards from cash-strapped Luton Town for �675,000; both players were overlooked by Ipswich although Town were known to have looked at the Hatter but instead paid out nearly �1m for Veliche Shumulikoski.

In the summer Wolves swooped for Chris Iwelumo from Charlton, even though the former Colchester United striker had virtually lived on Magilton's doorstep in Ipswich. Even though he has been injured of late, Iwelumo's 16 goals have proved vital.

Town got Kevin Lisbie from the U's and later Jon Stead from Sheffield Wednesday, who have 19 goals between them.

In short the reason why Town flopped and Wolves succeeded is because Wanderers had the manager experienced enough to know the pitfalls along the way, both on and off the pitch. He also knew his way in the transfer market, although not all were roaring successes, and he knew how to deliver and not just make empty promises.

So while Town have actually gone backwards in so many ways, Wolves have continued to move forward and have reaped the rewards.

derek.davis@eadt.co.uk

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