Royle wary of award 'curse'

JOE ROYLE and Dario Gradi fight it out today for November's manager of the month award hoping it doesn't cost them three points on Saturday, writes Derek Davis.

JOE ROYLE and Dario Gradi fight it out today for November's manager of the month award hoping it doesn't cost them three points on Saturday, writes Derek Davis.

Ipswich boss Royle, who is hot on the trail of a possible loan signing, is the favourite to win the accolade, which will be officially announced at noon today.

Town went top of the Championship after four wins out of five games with a wafer-thin squad.

Although he is not confident of anything happening today, Royle hopes to have someone in place by the time they play Gradi's Crewe at Gresty Road on Saturday.


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A 2-1 victory over Millwall on Tuesday night ensured 13 points from six games for Crewe, who have pulled 10 points away from the relegation zone.

Gradi's side, which includes free-scoring Dean Ashton, who has netted five goals in six games, beat Millwall, Coventry City, Gillingham and Brighton, while drawing with Leicester City, with their only defeat coming against Stoke City.

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Royle said: "I had not thought about it, so we will wait and see what happens. There is the legendary curse, of course, so I would quite like Dario to get it and for us to get the three points on Saturday."

They face stiff competition from Sunderland's Mick McCarthy, who also led his side to four wins from five, including a 2-0 win over Town at the Stadium of Light.

Sunderland have moved up to third place behind Wigan, who had a disastrous November after their manager, Paul Jewell, won the award for October.

The fourth nominee is Burnley's Steve Cotterill, whose only defeat during November was against Ipswich, as the Clarets also won four out of five.

Burnley, who include John McGreal among their ranks, have amazed many by moving up to eighth place in the Championship, despite being hit by injuries.

Cotterill faces a fight to keep hold of talisman striker Robbie Blake, after the club rejected a £500,000 offer from Wigan just days after selling their Turf Moor ground on a leaseback arrangement.

While the manager of the month award is seen as recognition for an individual's effort in getting excellent team results, it also carries with it a curse.

Wigan were the latest Championship club to feel its effects, losing for the first time in the league when they were beaten by Plymouth in the first game after the announcement, and slipping from the top of the table as a result of a poor month.

Meanwhile, a number of Town's rivals have moved to strengthen their squads.

West Ham have signed Yeovil striker Gavin Williams and Sheffield United boss Neil Warnock has made a move for Geoff Horsfield at West Brom.

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