Marcus Stewart knows Ipswich Town have a ‘harder sell’ now than when he joined mid-season
It didn’t take much for Ipswich Town to persuade Marcus Stewart to make his mid-season switch in 2000, but the Blues legend knows it might be a slightly harder sell for the club right now as they continue to search for a striker.
Stewart left Huddersfield to join lower-placed second-tier rivals Town in a £2.25m deal at the start of February and subsequently wrote his name into folklore – first by firing his new employers to promotion, then bagging the goals which led to a fairytale fifth-place in the Premiership.
Fast-forward to present day and Town are once again on the look-out for a front man that can make the difference halfway through a campaign, although this time it’s to lift the mood in a stuttering Championship campaign.
Dozens of players have been linked since the turn of the year, but manager Mick McCarthy has admitted that there is a ‘litany of reasons’ that a deal has not yet been done ahead of tomorrow’s visit of fellow strugglers Blackburn.
Quipping that he wasn’t coming out of retirement to sign for Town, Stewart said: “There was no persuading required when I moved to Ipswich.
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“Steve Bruce (then Huddersfield boss) called me into his office and gave me the option to speak to Ipswich and immediately I knew that meant he was willing to let me go. You want to be somewhere you are really wanted.
“I’m not going to lie, Ipswich seemed a long way to relocate my young family, but I saw the club’s pedigree and how they had been pushing for promotion and took the decision that it would further my career. Thankfully, it turned out to be the right move for all parties.
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“Maybe Ipswich is a harder sell to some players at the moment. If you have a young family and you’re being asked to move from Hartlepool, or wherever, then it’s a big deal. Not for the player, because they have a ready made set of new friends in team-mates, but for their partner and children having to move to a new area.”
The 44-year-old, who is now actively involved in recruitment himself as assistant manager of high-flying League One club Bristol Rovers, continued:
“I never instigated a single move in my career, but every player is different. Some players will be going home after training every day and ringing back every unknown number that comes up as a missed call worrying if it’s an agent or manager. I’m not on Twitter of Facebook, but most of them are and if they want to read all the transfer rumour stuff it is now just a click away.
“Over the next three weeks there will be players that want to get away but their club doesn’t want to sell and some who want to stay but the club wants them out. There are a lot of things that need to fall into place for a deal to get done, but the biggest thing is that the player wants to join the club that’s interested. If that’s not the case then the deal doesn’t even get off the ground.”
He added: “If you do move mid-season, it’s really important that you stay injury free in the first few weeks at a new club because you need to show people what you can do.
“People expect you to perform and score goals straight away. There’s pressure to impress the new manager, a new set of fans to win over and you have to prove yourself to a new set of team-mates who don’t know much about you.
“As a striker that pressure is intensified because people expect you to be the one who scores the goals that clinch promotion, seal a play-off place, settle a bad spell or get you away from the relegation zone.
“That’s why strikers cost the most money and get the most money, because they have the hardest job in football.
“I always think that if you start well at a new club then generally you have got a good chance of being a success there. If you don’t start well then it can be tough to win people over, you feel the pressure intensify and suddenly you’re a squad player. It really can be sink or swim in those first few weeks.”