Like the class of 2000 says Fab

FABIAN Wilnis knows what it takes to win promotion with Ipswich Town and he believes this current crop of players can repeat the success of 2000.

By Derek Davis

FABIAN Wilnis knows what it takes to win promotion with Ipswich Town and he believes this current crop of players can repeat the success of 2000.

The Dutch defender was a key part of the team that won promotion to the Premiership and then shocked everyone by finishing fifth in their first season, and who can forget that wonder goal against Manchester United at the beginning of the season?

So Wilnis is well placed to compare and contrast that squad with the ones that are sitting in fourth place and looking to repeat the success.

Wilnis said: “This squad is equally as good as the one in 2000. We have goals in the team, good movement and players with skill.

“Everyone talks about the way we play, especially at home and we know the away wins will start coming soon.

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“I can remember in 1999 how we stayed calm and just kept focused all the way until we got to Wembley in the May of 2000.

“As then we are not getting carried away now. There is a similar feeling of what we can do but the main thing to do over this busy period is to stay focused and look at it again in February-March to see where we are.

“I have been here before and know we need to be calm, concentrated and focused.”

Wilnis believes the feeling of invincibility that the team engineered under George Burley is being replicated now under Jim Magilton.

Wilnis said: “We never had a doubt in 1999/2000 that we would go out and win. We stood together in the tunnel before a game and there was a real belief in each other.

“Losing was not an option, it just didn't cross our minds.

“We do the same now at home and we just know we are going to win even before the game starts.

“It is not so strong away from home but I know that can chance because it won't be long before we get that first win, hopefully Tuesday, and we will go on from there.”

One of the key moments in that promotion season was Burley's ability to go out and buy Marcus Stewart from Huddersfield and Wilnis feels that the money from the takeover will be key for Magilton too.

He said: “Everything is falling into place on and off the pitch. We are getting results in the league and are in a decent position while the new investor will give the club the means to take the next big step. I hate to say it but money talks and the investment will give us more strength.”

The ability to win points when not playing well can also be a factor and Wilnis was impressed with the way Town beat Southampton with a below par performance.

He said: “We didn't play well on Tuesday but got the three points and sometimes you have to win ugly. Come the end of April then no one will care how we got this three points its that we have them and hopefully will have made a difference.

“We have had a good start to the season and now we can go on and make it even better.”

Wilnis admits it is hard for him when he is not playing but knows he still has a key role off the pitch.

He said: “It is difficult not playing and I'm still determined to get in the starting side. But even when I'm not actually playing then I can help the team with my experience. I have been here before and know I will get another chance so have to be ready to take it.

“It is harder as a defender to get a game as a substitute because it is usually a midfielder or striker that is changed in a game.”

Town beat Barnsley in that heady play-off final at Wembley in 2000 and while they enjoyed top level football for a couple of years before slipping back, the Tykes went into freefall almost immediately.

Wilnis said: “It is interesting to see what has happened to the two clubs over the seven years.

“Barnsley are a completely different team from the side in 2000. Although there is only Richard Naylor, me, and the manager Jim who played then, we are a different team now.

“While we went on had success after winning the final Barnsley got relegated twice and are just starting to get it together now.”

Wilnis has made 317 appearances in all competitions for Town since signing for around £225,000 from De Graafschap to put him into 28th place, just above Jim Magilton in the all time list of appearances in and needs seven more games to equal fellow Dutchman Romeo Zondervan.