Pablo's love for Ipswich

By Derek Davis

By Derek Davis

PABLO Counago is ready to fit straight back into his home from home.

While it usually takes players, especially those from abroad, time to adjust, the 27-year-old Spaniard is confident it will not take him long this time round.

With players like Fabian Wilnis, Matt Richards and Jason de Vos already familiar faces, along with his many friends from outside the club, Counago is looking to take up where he left off two year's ago.

Counago said: “It is good to already have friends in the team. Usually it is hard when you go to a new club but this is easy for me because I know the club and the place so well already.

“I knew this place for four years and while I may not know the young and new players just yet it will not take long.

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“The other players who I know already will help me fit in with the new group and that makes it easier for everyone.”

Also here to make him welcome is manager Jim Magilton, who was his team-mate under George Burley, who got him in on a free from Celta Vigo after watching him score twice for Spain Under 21s against England, and then Joe Royle who released him.

For Counago, neither coming back or who is the new boss is, has come as a shock.

He said: “It is no surprise to me that Jim is the manager. He was always a manager in waiting when I was here before.

“A lot of people within the game have enormous respect for him and he symbolises the good in football and Ipswich Town.

“Nor was I really surprised that I have returned to Ipswich. You never know what is going to happen in football as things always change.”

After playing well but not scoring in the Premiership Counago blossomed in his second year scoring 21 goals, 19 in the league to finish top scorer and player of the year but things turned sour under Joe Royle who had to slash the £20m a year player budget and wanted the £20,000-a-week player off his wage bill.

Although it was not a happy time for the Spaniard who was prepared to take a wage cut to stay in 2005, he bears no grudges.

Counago said: “It was very difficult for me to leave Ipswich before as I was very happy for most of the time. But what happened in the past is history and it doesn't matter any more.

“That was under a different manager and different circumstances, now this manager wants me and I want to be here.

“What is important is the future. The fans, the manager and the chairman have made it clear they want me and I'm very happy to get this second chance. I'm determined to try even more this time.”

Although the rest of the squad are enjoying a weekend off after a week's intensive training at Loughborough University, Counago started training today with fitness coach Simon Thadani and will join up with the rest again on Monday.

He said: “I'm ready to start training and to do what ever is necessary to be successful with Ipswich and to help the team do well.

“The manager and coaches will decide when I'm ready to play and I will look forward to that.”

Counago hit seven goals for Malaga last season, their joint third highest scorer and admits that even though he played against the likes of Real Madrid and Barcelona the year before, he still hankered after English football.

He said: “I played around 25 games in La Liga for Malaga in my first season and along with the Premiership it is one of the best leagues in the world.

“it was bad for everyone when we got relegated but even though I had a small injury I still played a fair bit and helped win many games.

“Although I had two years with Malaga I also thought about coming back to England because I love the atmosphere and stadiums of playing here, and the game suits my style.

“I wanted to come back because it is a great opportunity for me and this is a second chance to do great things for Ipswich Town and its supporters.

“All the people have been fantastic with me and I regard Ipswich as my second home. Malaga is great for a holiday but for me Ipswich is a better place to live.”

Although Counago remains popular with the majority of Town fans he knows he still has to prove some doubters wrong and accepts there will be those who will never accept him.

He said: “When you feel wanted by the manager and the fans it makes you play better and I hope that I can do my best to make both very happy.

“People will think what they want. It is impossible to have all the fans love you, it is the same for anyone in the world not everyone is going to love everyone.

“It is normal that some people will want you and not others. We will see in a couple of months if I can make some of those people who aren't sure about me change their minds. Although I also know that even if I score goals and do everything right some people will never change their minds no matter what I do.”

Magilton has no doubts that the striker can be another big hit.

He said: “I brought him back because he is a quality player. Pablo has been given an opportunity to come back and show what a good player he is.

“I have wanted him back since the moment I go the job. He is my ideal centre forward. I enjoyed playing with him but felt he could do so much more.

“When the opportunity came along to go and see him in close season I took it and was impressed with his maturity and the manner how he played.”

Although with almost a month to go before the season starts in earnest Counago has time to settle back in he is ready to make his mark sooner rather than later.

derek.davis@eadt.co.uk

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