Sheepshanks delighted with Royle revival

THERE may be a few regrets in the Ipswich boardroom about decisions made in the past 18 months, but chairman David Sheepshanks is delighted at the choice of Joe Royle as manager.

THERE may be a few regrets in the Ipswich boardroom about decisions made in the past 18 months, but chairman David Sheepshanks is delighted at the choice of Joe Royle as manager, writes Derek Davis.

Sheepshanks hot-footed it from France to watch Ipswich fight back from a two-goal deficit at Highfield Road to win 4-2 and keep their play-off aspirations alive, due in no small part to an inspirational - and colourful - half-time team talk by Blues' boss Royle.

An out-of sorts Town went behind to goals from Matt Jansen and Dean Gordon, before Pablo Counago and Marcus Bent each bagged a second-half brace to keep them in touch with the top six.

Royle switched formation and personnel at the break and Sheepshanks believes it is that sort of managerial magic which has seen Ipswich soar from fourth bottom to seventh top this season, and bodes well for the future.

Sheepshanks said: “The first half was disappointing while the second half showed just how much spirit there is within the club, despite all the hardships. It also shows how much talent we have here.

“We have some very good players here and I continue to applaud Joe Royle in the way he brings the best out of them.

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“Joe is a tower of strength, combined with good humour and enthusiasm, despite all the difficulties we are having to confront behind the scenes.

“With four games left we are hanging in there and anything is possible.”

Sheepshanks is convinced if Royle had been at the helm earlier Town would be in a much stronger position and points to just three league defeats in 22 games as an indicator.

He said: “If that form was to be transposed into a full season it would speak volumes about what Joe is capable of doing, so I'm looking forward with confidence, whichever division we are playing in.

“We will have to continue with cutting the wage bill but that doesn't necessarily mean wholesale changes to the team. Joe has already said he is ready to offer deals to the three players whose contracts are up in the summer.

“I'm confident Joe will be able to mould an extremely strong team ready for next season.”

Looking healthy after a week's skiing, Sheepshanks was speaking as a fan after being taken to the depths of despair in the opening 45 minutes to ecstasy at 90 minutes. He said: “We had a bad first half but they put it right in the best way possible and there were some exceptional performances, particularly up front.

“Two of the goals were two of the best you will see, anywhere, all season. Pablo's finish for his first was outstanding and then Jim Magilton's pass and Marcus Bent's finish was top quality. It was top Premiership class.”

And then speaking with his chairman and Football League head on he expressed his sympathy for his opposite number at Sunderland, Bob Murray.

The Black Cats were relegated after losing 2-0 at Birmingham but, just as Ipswich, Derby and Leicester did, will find the ills of football, a collapsed transfer market, lack of television revenue and a huge wage bill, an incredible burden in the “Hell and Hades” league that is the Nationwide.

Sheepshanks said: “I feel for Sunderland. The writing has been on the wall for some time but I still feel for them as I would any club that is relegated that has come out of the Premiership after being there for some time.

“If West Brom were to drop after one year they will be able to reconfigure much more easily. Any longer than one year makes it very difficult. They will have prepared as best they can, but like all relegated clubs now I imagine the ability to trade either by transfers or reducing wage cost will be key.

“The status quo suits the majority, it is only those who suffer that understand the pain.

“Leicester, Derby and ourselves suffered the most as it was the worst time ever to be relegated. This season will be as difficult but clubs have had a few months to see the harshness of the situation and the absolute need to take pre-emptive action to avoid it.

“I feel the current economic structure of league football at the top of the Premiership and below is unsustainable in the long term.”

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