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Another New Manager, Another New Gamble
Written by Broganonthewing on Tuesday, 14th Dec 2021 16:07

Since our beloved Towen turned professional 85 years ago in 1936, we have had 18 full-time managers.

Six in the first 46 years and 12 in the remaining 39. This is a clear indication of how the game and the club has changed since the legend Bobby Robson left to take charge of England in 1982.

Statistically the first manager Mick O'Brien was the most successful, 64.1% win rate over 39 games. Next comes Alf Ramsey (later to become Sir Alf) with 47.7%.

The great Sir Bobby comes fifth with 44.6%,believe it or not behind John Duncan with a win rate of 45.3%.

Unsurprisingly the worst percentage was 6.7% achieved by Paul Hurst over just 15 games.

As we seek our 19th manager, expectations are high and opinions are very much divided, however, the one thing that can be absolutely guaranteed is that whoever is appointed, there will be no guarantee!

Some on this site want a big name, John Terry or Frank Lampard, some want an old experienced head, Neil Warnock gets a lot of votes.

Others have their head in the clouds and expect an Arsene Wenger, Alex Ferguson or Jurgen Klopp to relish the opportunity, but, after all, high expectations and optimism is what being a football supporter is all about.

Whoever gets the nod will be expected to achieve instant success, nothing short of the play-offs will be good enough.

In recent years we have had nothing to really shout about and have had to look angrily and jealously at those awful green and yellow shirts 40 miles up the A140.

The only real constant in the last 20 years has been disappointment, despite the appointment of managers who fall into all categories.

Roy Keane, the marquee appointment was a disaster, Mick McCarthy the experienced old head, kept us up but cured our insomnia. Hurst, the young hungry popular choice of many was even worse than Keane!

The only one who came anywhere near to being successful and had no money to spend was Joe Royle. How fickle the fans were over his appointment, just before his arrival the North Stand were chanting 'Stick Joe Royle up your a*se!' . Six months later we were all part of 'Big Fat Joe's Barmy Army'.

So what do I conclude looking at the past 20 years and looking ahead to the immediate future? We need luck! Previous success, reputation or young enthusiasm and hunger count for nothing. We were lucky with Ramsey, Robson and Burley, surely it is time our luck changed!

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monty_radio added 16:26 - Dec 14
I'm pleased that you manage to tackle this subject without using that old warning "Be careful what..."etc. as I think that any seasoned observer should be able to realise that it doesn't matter a tinker's teatray what we wish for or not. And as you're unfolding our history - who, apart from the venerable Cobbolds thought that Sir Bob's C.V. would be our passport to glory.

Incidentally, re your username: it's often discussed on here whether there's been any good coaching so that we could name any player who had actually improved since coming here - well, Brogan certainly got better and better, until that infamous tackle!

not_a_witty_name added 16:31 - Dec 14
I haven't got a clue who should be our next manager, I just have to trust that the board does.
(and I hope that the next manager is as lucky as Burley was).

Broganonthewing added 16:58 - Dec 14
Spot on monty_radio! I think Sir Bobby was third choice? three other so called top managers turned us down and rode the train to obscurity! Lucky for us Robson was out of work and desperate to get back into management.
Frank Brogan was signed I think by Jackie Milburn, he didnt immediately pull up any trees but flourished under Bill McGarry. I well remember that horrendous tackle by that thug Gilzean that really finished his career. McGarry never got the recognition he deserved, he made Jefferson, Hegan, Morris as well as Brogan better players. He developed Viljeon and built a team from scratch to become a decent top tier team.
Oh the memories!

ChrisFelix added 09:16 - Dec 15
I agree with all your comments especially about Bill McGarry. Without him I doubt whether the Robson years would have occurred. Dear old Wor Jackie was responsible for several future stars, Inc Hegan, Mills & Harper.
Paul Cook for me was the correct choice, he had the players but sadly for all of us he didn't play the correct formation.
Paul Hurst could have been a sucess maybe if he has got rid of Chambers & Skuse before his uneventful season began

oldelsworthyfan added 15:29 - Dec 15
Good article.
Jackie Milburn was unfortunate.
Alf could have helped him to start with, but apparently didn't, excluding him even!
He was left with most of the players near the end of their playing days, which was evident even before Alf left, well into the 62/63 Season.

ElephantintheRoom added 09:30 - Dec 16
Interesting read. The only other successful manager in the last forty years (excluding Burley, who destroyed the club) was John Lyall - and he like Joe Royle was not entirely welcomed by the 'ultras' either. In the age before social media the North Stand 'faithful' lustily sang "Robson, Robson you must go!!!" which succinctly summarises the idiocy of deluded supporters - and how little they should be listened to.

You are right that Robson was thrid choice... John Cobbold tried to get Billy Bingham, then Southport manager three times - but he refused all offers. Frank O'Farrell, then Torquay manager also turned the job down. The fact that O'Farrell went to Leicester and got them relegated was amusing, though he soon jumped ship to Old Trafford. Bingham went to Everton - so maybe both were right to turn the job down. It kind of shows just how shrewd Cobbold was to have such a far-sighted shortlist.

You dont mention Scott Duncan - that was an interesting Cobbold appointment too. Taking the Manchester United manager to an ambitious non-league club was quite a feat..

Aside from Duncan - who has to be regarded as a huge success, because he put Town on the map - the only other staggering successes are Ramsey and Robson - both 'young and hungry' with no managerial pedigree to speak of.

Two managers who got a really bad press at the time but with hindsight were a bit of a success were Jackie MIlburn and John Duncan. Both made some decent signings and promoted youth that would succeed specatularly for the next manager.

Highly successful were Bill McGarry and John Lyall - who both turned around floundering teams and made them second division champions in double quick time for little outlay. both were established managers, though very different in their outlook and personality - and inherited exceptional players.

Then? Burley was a tyro who was doing well at Colchester. People tend to forget he was terrible until 'experienced coaches' came to sort out the mess - first Bryan Hamilton, then Stuart Houston,...laterly Dale Roberts was a restraining and infulential figure until his tragic death. BUT he had two relegations, took an absolute age to get a very good team promoted (via third place) and bust the club with disastrous and senseless signings, and started Town's ruinous flirtation with pointless loans which has coincided with the demise of the club.

McCarthy? Not really - he stabilised the club - then sat tight as it deteriorated at a rate of knots. I'd suggest the club actually progressed more under Lambert in that some Town players actually existed by the time he left - players that were actually home grown or played for three years plus to form the spine of the team.

All that of course was arrognatly tossed away by the cowboys now tasked with making money for a bloke in Ohio. I'm not sure it makes one iota of difference who Town appoint as their next manager. IF it is a short term appointment, a Warnock or McCarthy - then tha shedload of players will have longer contracts than him - and hang around like a bad smell. A gravy train rider keen on a quick pay off? After all the long term project lasted all of four months - now the cowboys are in panic mode who knows how long the next manager has got? A sensible or serious manager? Given the chaos at Portman Road - and let's face it, the vile, intolerant support, that would be a pretty short queue.

Whoever it is they will need time, and will probably appear an uninspiiring choice. History suggests ignore the the supporters moans and give them time. History also suggests an abusive intolerant crowd will soon be venting their spleen - and recent history suggests little time - with the timebomb of a repayent plan to adhere to.


Facefacts added 11:08 - Dec 16
The new owners are finding out that you can't easily impose a short term business plan on a football club steeped in tradition (things take time, players need to bed in).

So we have 19 of Paul Cook's choices, assembled quickly in the summer window, with no solid midfield 4 or 5, to make us hard to play against. There wasn't enough time to assemble the right group of players.

Only way is down from here, as the new manager will be told to get us to the playoffs this season, and there will be more chopping and changing to get that elusive formula. We cannot get a consistent, two points per game team unit from the players that Ashton bought for Cook.

Europablue added 07:12 - Dec 17
It's interesting to read this after the appointment of McKenna. I personally feel like he's the right kind of appointment, but I'll admit to knowing nothing about him. As long as we don't get relegated, I'm not too concerned with results. I want to see the improvement in the team and signs that we will be a major force in the league next season.

ElephantintheRoom added 11:59 - Dec 18
I agree with Europablue that the appointment of McKenna makes this an interesting read with hindsight. It's quite a sartling,, even brave appointment given the club's long term flirtation with experienced and set in their ways managers. I doubt anyone knows much about McKenna and I presume he has a pretty thick skin because he's going t need it. His yes man is an interesting, if not unique figure too - not many accountants go into coaching. I wonder if he charges by the hour? I'm sure he'll face a rocky start simply because he is so young and there are so many rootless players at the club, many of whom are pining for Cook. Hopefully Ashton will stand by his man. Personally I will be amazed if there is ay great iprovement from the motley crew this year - and there are some pointless loans that will depart (again), two of them in fairly key positions. Most of all I hope there is some joined up thinking between the academy and the first team. Maybe even a five year plan to remind people that this is a long term project.... for four months anyway.

fifeblue added 20:14 - Dec 19
There are some strange views on here and false memories or assumptions e.g. Mills and Harper arrived long after Jackie Milburn left but that's a very small point.
Bill McGarry was a fine coach but he would never have achieved the same result as Bobby Robson who was innovative. McGarry achieved promotion with a fairly ordinary team, to be honest, in what was then a pretty poor to average Division 2. He left too soon to say his team was a decent Division 1 team and they struggled to stay up for 3 years before Robson's changes began to bear fruit. McGarry did well at Wolves but they were never at the consistently high level that Ipswich were after 73 despite having a teamful of established players.
The Cobbolds could never have known that Robson would be as succesful or brilliant as he was when they appointed him, still in his 30s in 68. But they backed him because it was their way and it worked. If the current new manager gets the same backing it may take until 2026 before things really start to improve.
Comments about Burley are not really justified. He improved several other clubs quickly after taking over after he left Ipswich but he was the victim of short termism from the boards of these clubs. Had he not been sacked at Ipswich I believe that he may have been successful at getting the club back into the Premier League, although it is fair to say that Joe Royle did brilliantly well with the squad and funds he had available.

Given the names bandied about over the past couple of weeks I am very relieved that none of them were appointed. Kieran McKenna is an imaginative and potentially very exciting appointment. It is a new era that may lead to a new period of sustained success.


stocktractor added 23:35 - Dec 26

Ipswichbusiness added 14:07 - Jan 1
I agree with Europablue. To be 10 points behind sixth place with only half a season to go is a mountain to make up. The best realistically that we can expect is a steady improvement in fortunes coupled with good transfer dealings this winter and over the summer.
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