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Royle Looking Forward to Return to Portman Road
Thursday, 13th Dec 2018 14:45

Former Blues boss Joe Royle is looking forward to only his second return to Portman Road since departing the club in 2006 when he makes the trip to Suffolk with Wigan Athletic, where he is now a director, on Saturday.

“I’m really looking forward to going back,” Royle told the Colchester Gazette. “I’ve only been back once since leaving and it’ll be good to see some old faces.

“I’m still in regular touch with [former Town midfielder and coach] Bryan Hamilton [an ex-Wigan manager] and he keeps me updating on the way things are going at Portman Road.

“From what I gather, they’re playing well but without winning games. It’s not like they’re playing desperately badly and we’re certainly not going there thinking it’s going to be a walkover.”

Royle, whose previous visit to Town was to be inducted into the hall of fame at the ex-players’ dinner in 2017, insists it’s too early for the Blues to be written off as relegation certainties, despite their current position bottom of the table eight points plus relegation from safety.

“I really hope they turn things around – after this weekend - but it’s far too early to be thinking about relegation,” he said.

“Everything can change so quickly after two or three wins. That was what happened when I first took over at Everton in ’94.

“We were bottom of the table but won three games in a week and got ourselves out of trouble. Paul Lambert’s an experienced, forward-thinking operator and someone who enjoyed great success as a player. Enjoying back-to-back promotions with Norwich shows his calibre as a manager, too.”

Royle, 69, managed the Blues from 2002 to 2006 and took Town to two play-off semi-finals, losing to West Ham in both of them.

“I really enjoyed my time at Ipswich,” he continued. “We seemed to have a lot of high-scoring games, I remember, and although they were hard times financially, because of the club’s administration, we always seemed to cobble together a side that was competitive in the division.

“I still wonder what might have happened if we’d won either of those play-off semi-finals, against West Ham. Still, there’s no point dwelling on it now. You can’t change the past – only influence the future.”

Royle joined the Wigan board following their recent takeover by Hong Kong-based company International Entertainment Corporation with his son Darren the executive chairman.

“I’m really enjoying it,” he added. “My son is chairman so that helps. It’s a bit of a family affair and when the opportunity came along, it was a no-brainer.

“I’ve tried retirement three times and it’s not suited me. I’ve enjoyed having a little break but then get itchy feet.

“The new owners are very good, honest and humble people and getting involved was an opportunity I couldn’t turn down.”

Paying tribute to Royle, current boss Paul Lambert said: “Brilliant stature in the game, which is good him being an ex-manager here as well. But the stature of Joe Royle is huge.

“He had a great career on both sides of it, so I’m pretty sure he’ll get a nice hello from everybody.”

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BaddowBlue1 added 15:00 - Dec 13
Welcome back Joe, a man that performed miracles on probably the tightest shoestring budget ever in Town's history right through administration. I do wonder what he could have achieved with Town had he had access to the ME money when Evans first arrived.

itfchorry added 15:12 - Dec 13
Top Manager - Top bloke

Fatboy added 15:21 - Dec 13
“I still wonder what might have happened if we’d won either of those play-off semi-finals, against West Ham."

We'd have gone through to the final ;-)

Be good to see BFJ back at PR on Saturday.

Taricco_Fan added 15:37 - Dec 13
A man who will be looked back on as one of our better managers.

Watching Town was fun when he was in charge.

Moisha added 15:54 - Dec 13
Forget the 2nd play-off defeat to West Ham Joe.... we should have won automatic promotion, if not the league!!

Dissboyitfc added 15:58 - Dec 13
Fond memories, how football should be played. Fell short at the final hurdle, but getting there was a great deal of fun that’s for sure !

Although it’s all history, proves football can be entertaing and exciting without money!

brassy added 15:59 - Dec 13
agree with all the above loved Joes football sure he will get a rousing reception,COYB.

algarvefan added 16:19 - Dec 13
One of the gentleman of football, now few and far between, great manager for us in very difficult times, I hope he is treated with the respect he deserves.

blue75 added 16:29 - Dec 13
If only Sheepshanks had talked him into staying Evans wouldn’t have wasted all that money!!

Portman51 added 16:45 - Dec 13

We would have done had Dion Dublin not put Shefki Kuqi out for several games with a dangerous challenge in a home match against Coventry for which he wasn't even booked. Without Kuqi, who with Bent was scoring for fun at the time, we lost two home games in a week against Watford and QPR and that was the difference between automatic promotion and another playoff failure. However it all pales into insignificance compared to the current situation we find ourselves in.

runningout added 20:57 - Dec 13
One of the best we had

Razor added 10:44 - Dec 14
One of the best we had and will be great to see him back.

Always remember one of his famous quotes on Sky TV----he was asked what it was like working on a shoestring budget and he replied that he did not even have a shoestring----quality!!

The_Great_Cornholio added 14:12 - Dec 14
Maybe it was just because I was in my early 20's and a bit wild but seeing us under Joe Royale was always so much fun. Even when I went away disappointed it was because they'd scored 4 and we'd only got 3 as opposed to some of the cack served up since.

dirtydingusmagee added 11:06 - Dec 15
hope he gets a good reception ,im sure he will, they were good times .

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