Santos: We're good enough to go up
FUNNY how things turn out. Georges Santos was training with Grimsby, and being courted by a French club, when the phone went. Mick Mills, yes that Mick Mills, his agent, told him Ipswich wanted to take him on their pre-season tour to Scandinavia as Thomas Gaardsoe had damaged ligaments in the friendly at Southend.
FUNNY how things turn out. Georges Santos was training with Grimsby, and being courted by a French club, when the phone went. Mick Mills, yes that Mick Mills, his agent, told him Ipswich wanted to take him on their pre-season tour to Scandinavia as Thomas Gaardsoe had damaged ligaments in the friendly at Southend, writes Derek Davis.
Grimsby or Ipswich? - not a tough choice really and an initial three-month contract was agreed. He met the group at Gatwick, missed the plane along with manager Joe Royle and eventually met up with his new team-mates later that night.
But he was instantly impressed and after getting to see Portman Road and the training facilities at Playford Road the former Tranmere Rovers, West Bromwich Albion, Sheffield United and The Mariners utility man has seen enough to tip Town for the Premiership.
“There will be quite a few good clubs this season and it will be tight. West Ham and Sunderland we all know will be strong after so long in the Premiership. West Brom are a strong, physical team. Reading had a very good season last season and will do well again. Sheffield United are another who are a good team and Crystal Palace may come good. Ipswich will be top six I have no doubt, but we will be looking for top two.
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“I have only been here a few weeks but I have seen some very good signs. I told Drissa (Diallo), this year we are going to be some team. I have seen things which have convinced me we have a team to do something special. We have a manager who is experienced and is one of the best managers in England. He is looking for players who want to give their all to the club and the fans.”
Santos has already shown his versatility by playing in the back four and, more often, in a holding role in midfield but he is glad he does not have to defend against the deadly Town strike force.
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He said: “I played against them last year and I would not fancy doing it again. Even more so this year because they are so full of confidence and with the three of them they are awesome.
“You have the Bents who have so much pace and play off each other, you have Pablo who is so strong and holds the ball up and is clever, then you have Martijn Reuser - they are unbelievable.
“I remember the 3-0 win at Grimsby and how Ipswich had three very good chances in the first 10 minutes but missed them and we scored. Straight away that killed them, the heads went down and we had the game won. You can see the confidence now, they don't seem to be feeling pressure now.”
Although a relatively late foreign import at 28, Santos has built a solid reputation and knows three of his team-mates very well. That, and the manager's persistence, convinced him Portman Road was the next stop for him.
He said: “I know Johnny Mac (McGreal) well, Marcus Bent, Drissa too. I had only been here a few days and it was like I have been here five years because so many players know me so well already.
“After the game last season which finished 2-2 at Portman Road, John told me what a good club it was, and about the gaffer. The gaffer made me feel wanted, he phoned me about 20 times in one day to say come.”
When Gaardsoe was subsequently sold to West Brom for £500,000 then Santos was immediately handed a two-year contract.
He will make his Ipswich league debut today against Reading and admits he is relishing the thought of nigh on 30,000 Blues supporters roaring him and the team on.
He said: “I enjoy it here. I'm really looking forward to the Reading game at my new home with a full house and great atmosphere.”
There was another reason why he said au revoir to other offers.
He explained: “Grimsby and a French club wanted to sign me but I wanted to stay in England. When Ipswich came in I knew I wanted to play here.
“No disrespect to Grimsby but they knew I wanted to play in Division One. The supporters know the situation and why I have come to Ipswich. I'm extremely grateful for the way they were with me.
“I gave them my best football to try and keep them from going down but it was not to be.”
Looks like things have turned out right.