It's all looking rosy for Jim now

WINSTON Churchill declared he had nothing to offer but 'blood, toil, tears and sweat' when charged with winning the war for Britain. Jim Magilton will offer all that with the addition of guided missile-like passes as he looks to captain Ipswich Town to promotion, writes Derek Davis.

WINSTON Churchill declared he had nothing to offer but 'blood, toil, tears and sweat' when charged with winning the war for Britain, writes Derek Davis.

Jim Magilton will offer all that with the addition of guided missile-like passes as he looks to captain Ipswich Town to promotion.

A year ago Magilton was transfer-listed by then manager George Burley, he packed in international football with Northern Ireland and he and his family suffered a series of serious setbacks.

Today his home-life is much more settled, his international days are a happy memory and he is wearing the captain's armband with heart-bursting pride.

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Looking relaxed and fully fit after a slight hamstring pull, Magilton jabbers away excitedly as he looks to put the past where it belongs and relishes the challenge this season will bring.

He said: “I have got my appetite back, although I never really lost it - it just went into hiding for a while.”

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“I had my problems last year, personal ones, and then it came as a bit of a shock when George told me I was surplus to requirements.

“I had a lot of unfinished business and I wanted to prove myself again and as it happens in the end I had a decent season. The new manager came in and it helped because he liked what I do and what I can offer him and then it snowballed from there.

“Now, I'm really looking forward to the season. We have a lot of good young lads in the side and I'm looking forward to being in the team with them. I just hope we have a good start because that will encourage them.”

Probably due to the manager Joe Royle and coach Willie Donachie's style, along with Tony Mowbray's involvement, the squad have a definite determined confidence about them and Magilton is delighted the players are not stressing about the forthcoming campaign but are still extremely focused.

He said: “There is a lot less pressure on us this season. We were a little over-confident last year when we thought it was going to be a cake-walk, especially after the first two games, but it doesn't work like that as it showed.

“We know it takes a lot of hard work. The expectancy level around the place is not so high, simply because of the players we have let go. A lot of that squad have gone and there is a different feel to the place.”

Standing in the way of a return to the Premiership lay a large number of clubs who believe they will be the ones.

Magilton feels two from three of the relegated sides will go up automatically.

He said: “It will probably be West Ham and West Brom and a toss up between another six. Sunderland will be up there. Reading, Nottingham Forest, Sheffield United and, of course, ourselves.

“And there is always someone that comes out of the pack, as Reading did last season. They are 12 months further on so it is a tough game for us on the opening day.”

Magilton has welcomed the arrival of Georges Santos, Drissa Diallo and Kelvin Davis, but knows conceding less is an all-round responsibility.

He said: “We didn't have a problem scoring last season it was at the other end we let ourselves down, collectively as we didn't defend as a team. We probably didn't concern ourselves about defending simply because we felt we could out-score other teams but that didn't materialise either.

“The manager has identified positions where he felt we needed strengthening and he has gone out and done that and they have had the pre-season to bed in which has gone well.

“We have had problems during spells in games but overall some stuff has been pretty good and if we can get the ball to the front men we will cause damage. All we then need to do is keep the opposition out.”

No matter how great the team, it always needs full backing and Magilton is slightly incredulous at how Blues fans have reacted over the past two years in the darkest days.

He said: “We players can't believe how loyal these fans have for been to football club - it is incredible.

“After what has gone on and the troubles the club has gone through, they have shown what Ipswich Town means to them.

“I'm sure they will be as vociferous as ever and certainly we need their noise. I just hope we can give them something to shout about.”

Or to paraphrase Churchill: “The Ipswich fans have a lion's heart, I had the luck to give them their roar.”

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