Clegg and Keane could help send Ipswich up

By Online Editorial    

With Roy Keane now working alongside Simon Clegg, Head of the 2008 British Olympic Association, can he repeat what he did at Sunderland and get Ipswich back to the dizzy heights of Premier League football?

Ipswich Town are a provincial football club from Suffolk, yet have aspirations of joining the elite in the Premier League. Though these hopes contradict their small fan base, Marcus Evans has signalled a real intent. After purchasing the club and their debts of £32m in 2007, he has fashioned a management team to push for promotion from the Championship.

Under his stewardship, the East Anglian Tractor Boys are about to embark on the most exhilarating time in their footballing history with the recent high profile appointments of Simon Clegg and Roy Keane.

Firstly, the publicity-shy Evans hired Simon Clegg as his chief executive and spokesperson. His primary job is to transmit his vision. Although Clegg has no football history whatsoever, he has apposite sporting experience as head of the 2008 British Olympic Association and its successes in Beijing. This judgement looks sound, especially in light of the way he excelled in his dealings with both media and egos within the Team GB.

Shortly after, the controversial Manchester United legend Roy Keane was installed as manager. This particular appointment astonished people within the game as many thought he would not return to football so soon after his acrimonious walk out from Sunderland.

Given his volatile personality, it represents a gamble of gigantic proportions. His impatience with human fallibility is well known and the consensus is that this will stop him from being the complete manager. His war-like vision of the game does not endear him to everyone and he had already used the phrase ‘older and wiser now’ before taking the job at Sunderland!

Significantly, Keane has only been given a two-year contract. Listening to him at the press conference it was clear from his tone that both parties had agreed to that time scale to facilitate promotion. Should that not happen, it inferred failure and he would leave Portman Road. It was evident that Keane had purposely put himself under pressure to deliver…

Ipswich are perennial Championship underachievers and have always lacked steel, so perhaps Keane is perfect for the job, at least initially. It is likely that his remit is solely to reproduce what he did at Sunderland, hence the length of his short contract.

It remains doubtful whether Keane will be committed to the Ipswich cause for a real length of time. At no time has he expressed a vision for the future or an affiliation with the region, just a few trite words about getting a job done. His need for this job could be to test himself, whilst purging his demons.

On reflection one understands Evans’ thinking when teaming Clegg and Keane together, they have the potential to be a dream team once preliminary issues have been ironed out and parameters agreed. Evans’s wealth and ambition are likely to mean that Keane will have significant funds with which to orchestrate a push for promotion this season.

If the Tractor Boys are not heavily affected by the huge turnover of players this season I see them as serious players for promotion along with Middlesborough.

Reproduced with permission from © The Sporting Exchange Limited

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