Tractor Boy Roy – Can Keane send Ipswich up?

By Ian Walsh
Photo: Wikipedia / Ian Hunneybell

Photo: Wikipedia / Ian Hunneybell

“I am convinced the players will enjoy working with me. I have simple demands, be on time for training and give 100% then you will be fine. If they don’t, it will be a very brief relationship.”

Those were the words of former Sunderland gaffer Roy Keane when he took over as manager of Ipswich Town at the end of last season.

Keane, who had been out of football since leaving Sunderland last December, signed a two-year contract with the Tractor Boys replacing former boss Jim Magilton.

The Irishman took charge of Ipswich’s final two games last season, both of which resulted in wins as Ipswich finished ninth in the Championship, well below the play-off places.

The brief for the season ahead is very simple. Win promotion to the top tier of English football with The Blues at the first attempt after an eight year absence. Ipswich are previous winners of the old First Divison in 1962, the FA Cup in 1978 and the UEFA Cup in 1981.

If Ipswich’s form with managers is anything to go by, Keane could be in this job for the long run, as history shows the club not to be enthusiastic sackers. Bobby Robson spent 13 years in charge; Alf Ramsey and George Burley were there for eight, and Magilton for nearly three. Can Keane step up to the mark and etch his name into Ipswich’s history?

Just like at Sunderland, Keane has got the financial backing that he needs from reclusive owner Marcus Evans. Evans, who has a 87.5% shareholding in the club following his takeover in 2007, said: “I believe he is the right man to take this club where we want it to be – the Premier League.”

He has already splashed £12 million on players since taking over and has promised Keane all the funds he requires to complete the task at hand. But is it foolish to be giving Keane an open cheque book after his transfer dealings at Sunderland?

The former Manchester United skipper signed 36 players in his 27-month spell at Sunderland, a number of which were uninspiring. But just how many of them will end up joining Keane at Ipswich? It looks like he has already missed out on a £5 million deal for Sunderland’s Dean Whitehead and Daryl Murphy.

Keane has now turned his attention to defender Nyron Nosworthy to add to his squad. He has already signed Irish defender Damien Delaney from QPR; teenager Troy Brown from Fulham and Lee Robert Martin from former club Manchester United.

When Keane took charge of Sunderland in August 2006, they lay second from bottom in the Championship. He made an instant impact guiding them straight to the top, and winning the title. In terms of the Championship, Keane has a proven track record, but he still remains largely unproven in the Premiership.

Pundit Andy Townsend thinks that if Keane is to cut it, his attitude towards the game will have to change. “Brian Clough and Fergie had a huge influence on shaping Keane’s football philosophies, but the modern game has changed. He can’t rule the boardroom with an iron fist. The baseball bat approach won’t work.”

So as Roy Keane prepares for the season ahead, the fact remains that he is still very much unproven as a manager. But that however won’t stop him getting his hands dirty in his quest to get Ipswich back up to England’s top-flight. If Burnley can do it, why can’t Ipswich?


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