Royle admits Blues were poor

WITH his birthday celebrations ruined by his side's abject performance against Stoke City, Blue boss Joe Royle is today reflecting on what might have been if he had been given more money to spend.

WITH his birthday celebrations ruined by his side's abject performance against Stoke City, Blue boss Joe Royle is today reflecting on what might have been if he had been given more money to spend, writes Derek Davis.

Royle last night dismissed a national newspaper report linking him with the Derby County job, which will become vacant at the end of the season when caretaker-manager Terry Westley steps aside, insisting he is still very happy at Portman Road.

Royle turned 57 on Saturday but his thoughts were less about celebrating and more about what might have been if the Blues financial position was not as fragile as it has been since he took over as manager in October 2002.

The Blues went within a whisker of making the play-offs in his first season, made the play-offs in the next two having gone close to an automatic place last year, leaving Royle wondering how they would have fared if Town could have kept hold of some players and brought in others.

Royle said: “I'm very happy here at Ipswich, if a little frustrated after Saturday. Also, I can't disguise that I do wonder what might have happened if we could have speculated more.”

The former Oldham, Manchester City and Everton, boss has said in the past that he would like to finish his managerial career at Portman Road and still has another year on his contract with Ipswich Town.

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But that has not stopped him being linked with other clubs and rumours have persisted that Colchester United manager Phil Parkinson was being lined up to replace Royle.

The consortium looking to buy out Derby County are the latest club reported to be keen on Royle, although a spokesman for the five-man business partnership who are in the process of carrying out due diligence at Pride Park, last night denied they had made their mind up about who they would have in the hot-seat.

He said: “We understand there will be a lot of speculation regarding the manager's situation but there will be no discussion about managers until we have secured the club.”

Mick McCarthy, Mike Newell, Nigel Clough, Ian Holloway and Paul Simpson have also been linked as possible choices for the new consortium.

Meanwhile, the Blues players will be left in no doubt this morning what the manager and coaching staff want from them on Saturday when they entertain relegation certainties Brighton and play-off contenders Watford two days later.

Royle said: “We have got a lot of work to do because if we play like that against Watford we will be in a lot of trouble.”

Although Town could have had a penalty, Royle refused to make any excuses for his team's performance.

He said: “It could have been 2-2 if that had been given but I'm not going to talk about referees any more. I just hope we are getting all the decisions against us out of the way this season.

“We have to accept that Stoke were better than us on the day. We were poor, collectively inept. We had no threat until Danny Haynes came on and Alan Lee did well to play after being injured.”

The shake-up for Brighton could see Nicky Forster coming back, and Norwegian Vemund Brekke Skard making his full debut in midfield. Both are included in the reserve-team squad that play against Norwich City tonight.

Royle said: “We are looking for a performance from Vemund that could put him in contention for a place in the starting line-up.”

Sito Castro is also named in the side travelling to Carrow Road and will be used on the right side of midfield as an experiment. Lewis Price, whose last first- team game was at Norwich, will keep goal.

City will include first teamers Peter Thorne, Simon Charlton, Ryan Jarvis, Ian Henderson and on-loan Fulham defender Zesh Rehman.

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