The managerial paths of Ipswich Town and England have often been intrinsically linked.
So often having to settle for a reputation of a nice, family-run club and the tag of neutral's favourite, one of the only boasts for Ipswich fans was the pivotal role the club has played in the careers of the two most successful England managers of all time.
Both Sir Alf Ramsey and Bobby Robson cultivated their talents on the Portman Road turf before shining on the international stage.
Now I offer a third link between the national, and a very local, side.
To cap an amazing 24 hours, after a very dull nine months for Ipswich, Roy Keane has agreed to become the club’s new manager, after Jim Magilton was unsurprisingly sacked.
Doubt and controversy follow Keane whenever he resurfaces in the game. His shocking admission over that Alf-Inge Haaland tackle, the walk-out from the Irish team during the World Cup, the always-expected resignation from Sunderland.
Town fans have every reason to harbour slight doubts over what to expect when the fiery Irishman enters the genial Suffolk countryside.
But as Dylan said, "the times they are a changing." Where the club would once proudly have the sherry flowing in the Cobbold-run boardroom, in has come the mysterious Marcus Evans, a faceless financial backer who has pumped in millions and now expects results.
He was this week followed by Simon Clegg, six-time leader of the British Olympic team and all, as the new chief executive.
Magilton was given £12million and a one-year deadline to secure just one objective – promotion to the Premiership. He spectacularly failed with an abject mid-table finish and some of the poorest performances in recent memory.
The timing of his dismissal has surprised some, while others will raise eyebrows over the swiftness in appointing his successor.
But I, for one, am delighted by the decision coming with two games still to play.
This will give the new man ample time to look at the current squad, assess strengths and weaknesses, and decide on the dozen or so players whose futures are up in the air.
It would be strange if Magilton, a dead man walking, would be the person to determine whether the likes of Alex Bruce and Ivan Campo still have a future at the club next season.
The arrival of Keane has already brought much-needed excitement to sleepy Suffolk and could inject some life into struggling season ticket sales.
As the owner—whose identity still remains a secret—will testify, football has to be viewed from a business point of view at times.
Though Keane’s appointment will bring massive expectations, this will be nothing new for the former hardman. The ex-Sunderland boss could revolutionise Portman Road and bring about a sorely-needed change of direction.
It is here that I draw my comparison with the England side.
Jim Magilton is Steve McClaren, clearly having his favourites and being quite pally with particular players. While unsurprising considering he was once a teammate of many of them, this appeared to go against the grain of team unity.
This would cast Roy Keane as Fabio Capello. A new man with new rules, taking no rubbish from anyone.
Expect fireworks—on and off the pitch—and for Town fans, hopefully a similar impact to the Italian.
Roll on next season.
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