Magilton answers the questions

NEW Ipswich manager Jim Magilton has given Blues fans their first insight into his plans for the future - including his aspiration to get back in the top flight of English football.

NEW Ipswich manager Jim Magilton has given Blues fans their first insight into his plans for the future. Here he talks to Elvin King

EK: Jim you have talked about your clear vision for the future of Ipswich Town. Can you expand?

JM: The short answer is quite simply promotion to the Premiership. There are a number of areas that need to be attended to get us there. I have two years initially to get us up - and, to be honest, I would be disappointed if we were not at least in the running for the play-offs next season. If I am able to bring the players with the qualities I feel we need, we must have a real chance of promotion. I am looking to strengthen the squad and I have an idea of the areas that need attention. I am hoping for a successful share issue to help me capture these players.

EK: What are your guidelines for bringing players in, having gone on record that you are a little disappointed that the club is no longer unearthing players like Matt Holland, Jamie Clapham and John McGreal, who joined the Blues during the late nineties?


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JM: I know there are players, perhaps reserves with Premiership teams or players in the lower leagues, who are not regularly featuring in the first team and are desperate to come to a club like Ipswich Town where they would get a shot at the top-flight. It is chief scout Steve McCall and his network that we are in the process of rejuvenating to find them. But I stress that we will not bring any player to Portman Road until we have checked them thoroughly. I want to know everything about them, what makes them tick, their lifestyle and their character and to be sure that they will make us stronger. I am satisfied that we have a competitive budget but, as with any transfer we need to be sure that players coming in will add value to my team.

EK: There are areas that need attending to. What is your strategy for the next two years?

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JM: We have been too easy to beat in the past. Sometimes you have to deal with that and accept that on the day the opposition outplayed you. I will find that hard to deal with because I have a winner's mentality - and that is something I want all of my players to show. We will instil a mental toughness in our teams. A football match is not without twists and turns. From the kick-off to the final whistle, there will be many changes in terms of tactics, fortune - fate even. I see our job to be able to react and counter such changes during the game. If we go a goal down we will deal with that. If the opposition is packing players behind the ball and saying 'go on then break us down' we must - and will - find ways to do that. The criteria of every footballer in the modern game are a combination of pace and power, but you don't always have to match brute strength. Smart players become problem solvers. Good teams take to the field with at least three formations and game plans in their armoury and, as a result of our meticulous preparation and scouting ahead of every match, we want to be an adaptable team.

EK: What about your views on team training and preparation?

JM: Bryan and I have always had an appetite for improvement, to be the best. This will continue. I remember, as a trainee at Liverpool, Ronnie Moran telling the players that even if they took just one lesson, one additional skill from each day, then they were doing their job. I want our players to do the same. Bryan Klug is an exceptional UEFA Pro-qualified coach who shares my views and aims for this club. Steve Foley will bring additional valuable experience. He knows what it takes to get a team out of the Championship, and as our special 'skills coach' will help identify and correct individual shortcomings and turn them into game-aware first team players. One thing is for sure, if my squad buy in to our strategy, as I fully expect them to, we will guarantee they become better players. And we'll introduce a number of double-session training days to allow them time to improve. I have asked physio Dave Williams to head up a new 'Sports Science' department dedicated to providing the very best facilities and advice in the areas of personal fitness, diet, nutrition, lifestyle, and physiotherapy. Under Dave's guidance, fitness training, physio and pro zone match analysis will work together to ensure that every attention to detail is in place.

EK: Does Bryan joining you in attending to first-team matters leave the Academy in a weakened position?

JM: Absolutely not! I believe it will help bridge the gap between the Academy and the first team. I don't think you can underestimate just how big a gap that is. Continuity is vital as any player progresses. I am confident that by Tony Humes stepping up to Academy manager and Bryan's continued overseeing of the Academy set up, we have a very strong structure in place. To help prepare young players for the jump-up, we are going to have sessions where the 'elite' of the youngsters will train with the established first team. We will have five or six teams at this club from junior level to the first team. Each will play to the same standards, again helping to ensure a smooth transition between each level. So, with the club's continued significant investment, I think the Academy is in fine shape going on.

EK: Can we have a prediction for the season ahead?

JM: A team that will not lay down, players who will improve week-by-week, game-by-game, young players alongside hungry players, mentally tough, winners, perhaps one or two new faces drafted in, only if they match our criteria and improve us. It's going to be a steep learning curve for a lot of us. But the target is the Premiership. If that is this season then that's great. One thing's for certain - we are going to give it a hell of a shot!

elvin.king@eadt.co.uk

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