New skipper promises fireworks

NEW Blues captain Jim Magilton has promised fireworks as Ipswich Town launch their bid for promotion, writes Derek Davis.Magilton was among the front-runners as the Town squad took to their first full training session of the new campaign, proud to be named skipper.

NEW Blues captain Jim Magilton has promised fireworks as Ipswich Town launch their bid for promotion, writes Derek Davis.

Magilton was among the front-runners as the Town squad took to their first full training session of the new campaign, proud to be named skipper.

Among the first to congratulate him at Portman Road when the players got together was Matt Holland, who bade his farewells and had a special message of support for the new captain.

Magilton said: "That was typical of Matt, a lovely gesture and it was very much appreciated."


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But the man who has now been made club captain for every team he has played – Southampton, Oxford United and Sheffield Wednesday, plus Northern Ireland – admits his approach will be very different to his predecessor.

He said: "We are very different. With Matt you got the complete package. The way he played consistently and his whole manner. He is something unique indeed. With him you didn't get an emotional roller-coaster; he was very steady and he will be a big void to fill.

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"I will go about the captaincy in my own way. I expect high standards of myself and will look to lead the team with my personality.

"You can expect fireworks now and again and I will say my piece. Most people know what I'm like and I will say what I think but there are no hard feelings afterwards.

"Sometimes I go off my head but I need that to gee myself up as much as anything, but I will try and keep level-headed."

And Magilton revealed the reluctant return of Matteo Sereni would not be detrimental to the dressing room.

He said: "Matteo is very popular among the lads and we will treat him the same as anyone else. If he has a problem he can sort it out with the manager. We have always liked him and it is important for us just to get on with things and not treat him differently.

"He is a very good goalkeeper and not a problem in and around the squad. He is a very good professional and he will get on with his job and do the best he can.

"He has got Andy Marshall, who is also a fine keeper, to put pressure on him, and he will rise to that."

After the expected leg-pulling in the dressing room the squad got down to hard work and Magilton is optimistic for the new season but knows it won't be easy.

He said: "Joe (Royle) had a word with the lads about what he expects and what has to be put right from last season and I'm very excited about the new season. His enthusiasm, along with Willie (Donachie) and Tony (Mowbray), is infectious and there is a great feeling in the dressing room.

"We know there are a lot of good sides in this division, the relegated teams will all be strong and are all contenders along with ourselves."

Magilton has endured a roller-coaster of emotions himself during his time with Ipswich. His hat-trick against Bolton in the play-off semi-final, the day at Wembley itself, playing in the Premiership again and the UEFA Cup, winning his 50th cap and skippering his country have been among the highlights. But the downside has been a close-season operation that hampered his form in the second Premiership season, an extremely worrying time when his son was ill, and finally being told he could leave on a free transfer.

But the amiable Irishman has shown tremendous character throughout and has lived deep and sucked out all the marrow of life.

A fan of the film Dead Poet's Society, Magilton will be delighted at the end of the season to hear the first part of the opening verse of Walt Whitman's O Captain! My Captain! With promotion achieved but without paying the ultimate price, of course.

'O Captain! My Captain! Our fearful trip is done,

The ship has weather'd every rack, the prize we sought is won,

The port is near the bells I hear, the people all-exulting,

While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring.'

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