Royle set to win manager of month

JOE Royle will celebrate his first year in charge of Ipswich Town on Monday, clear favourite to win his second manager of the month award in six months.

JOE Royle will celebrate his first year in charge of Ipswich Town on Monday, clear favourite to win his second manager of the month award in six months, writes Derek Davis.

The Town boss takes his buoyant Blues to Preston tomorrow looking for his sixth win in a row, with all the victories coming in October, making him the clear favourite to land the Nationwide Division One accolade, with no league matches next week until Saturday, November 1.

Even if they fail to make it nine wins in 10 games, Town's record for the month far outstrips those of Royle's fellow managers.

Ipswich started October in 18th place with just 11 points, but after victories against Rotherham, Bradford City, Burnley, Stoke City and Crystal Palace, the Blues have rocketed to sixth, after a brief flirtation with fifth place, and have bagged 26 points, just four away from leaders Wigan.

The Latics boss Paul Jewell is the closest to Royle in terms of points with eight, after three draws and two wins so far.

A win at Preston, and with other results going their way, could see Town move up to second spot, a remarkable achievement in the space of a month.

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Royle last captured the coveted award last March, the same month as Colchester United boss Phil Parkinson, who landed the Division Two award again last month.

The Town boss, who took over at Portman Road on Monday October 28, plays down the personal awards, preferring instead to praise his spirited side and the quality they have throughout.

He said: “I took heart from Tuesday. To come back from two goals down away from home shows the great spirit we have. And I loved the scrum-down celebration.”

Town momentarily went up to fifth place after the extraordinary win at Palace but slipped back to sixth when Alan Pardew's first game in charge of West Ham ended in a 1-1 draw with Forest.

“I was delighted to see West Ham and Forest draw, it is good that all the sides are taking points off each other.

“This highlights the importance of getting three points for the win, as opposed to the old days when it was two. A draw is not good enough any more. You need to be winning.”

The corresponding fixture last season ended 0-0 on September 1, which was the last time a Preston game finished goal-less, 55 games ago, while Town have gone 26 league games without a no-score draw.

The Lillywhites have drawn just one game, and lost their last two matches, both away, and so will welcome being back at Deepdale where former Scotland manager Craig Brown's men have won their last four home games.

Royle said: “I know Craig Brown very well and worked with him in the World Cup. He is a great man, a terrific and very successful coach.

“Preston are one of the better teams in the division. Overall they are playing well and despite a couple of set-backs have had a good run.

“In Ricardo Fuller they have one of the top strikers in this division. But it is about us and what we do. In the second half at Palace we were excellent and getting to what we can be.”

The Blues are likely to be unchanged at Deepdale from the side which started in the thriller at Selhurst Park.

Jim Magilton and Georges Santos will ignore the niggling injuries to calf and groin respectively.

Bookings for Richard Naylor and Chris Bart-Williams mean they will miss the trip to Derby County, which is especially a shame for Bam Bam as he usually scores against The Rams.

Martijn Reuser has already been pencilled in, along with John McGreal, to play in the reserves at Watford next week. But Drissa Diallo has suffered a minor set-back in his recovery from a knee ligament injury.

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