Former Blues striker Kuqi throws hat in the ring to be next Ipswich boss
PUBLISHED: 19:10 03 April 2018 | UPDATED: 20:09 03 April 2018
© Copyright Stephen Waller
Former Ipswich Town striker Shefki Kuqi is officially throwing his hat in the ring to be the club's next manager, we understand.
The former Blues striker has attended a number of Ipswich games in the last few weeks, including yesterday’s draw with Millwall, and has made it known he would like to replace outgoing boss Mick McCarthy, who has announced he will depart this summer at the end of his contract.
We understand Kuqi, known as the ‘Flying Finn’ during his memorable spell as a player at Portman Road, would see restoring a sense of unity between club, fans and the town as a top priority, should he be offered the job, as well as bringing through young players into the first team.
Kuqi’s previous managerial experience lies in Finland, where he was most recently in charge of top tier side Inter Turku. He took over in 2016 and kept the club in the Finnish top flight after taking over in the latter stages of the campaign. He left in August 2017 with Inter fifth in the Veikkausliiga.
Prior to that he was in charge of PK-35 Vantaa, where he achieved promotion from the second tier despite a limited budget, and FC Honka between 2014 and 2015 who he kept in the top flight at a time when the club was suffering from severe financial restrictions. Former Ipswich striker Pablo Counago played under Kuqi at both Vantaa and Honka.
Kuqi’s playing career at Ipswich saw him score 32 goals in 92 appearances, taking in an initial loan in 2003, a hugely productive permanent spell which ended in 2005 and a temporary return in 2008.
His trademark ‘swan dive’ celebration quickly became iconic, before he departed for then Premier League side Blackburn after the Blues lost out in the 2014/05 play-offs to West Ham. He has regularly stated his gratitude to the club for giving him the platform to earn a move to the Premier League while he retains a great affinity to both the club and the town.
He played for Crystal Palace, Swansea, Newcastle, Oldham and Hibernian before brining his career in Britain to an end in 2013, while he also played in Finland and Germany during his career.
At the time of writing, bookmakers have Kuqi as short as 7/1 to replace McCarthy at Portman Road.
Alan Pardew, sacked by West Brom on Monday, has replaced Lincoln boss Danny Cowley as favourite at odds of 6/4.