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The Jim Magilton Interview - Part Four
Saturday, 4th Apr 2020 09:41

Part four of our lengthy interview with Jim Magilton deals with the Marcus Evans years, the Blues legend’s controversial Town exit, the acrimonious aftermath and his current role and ambitions.

In December 2007, four months into Magilton’s second season in charge, Marcus Evans completed his multi-million takeover at Portman Road.

“That was huge,” Magilton recalled. “Obviously huge in terms of expectations and huge in terms of it being something that we’d been looking for, it was something that everyone felt was going to change the fortunes of the club right away, instantaneously.

“I talk about instant success, instant reward, instant gratification, no real longevity, loyalty becomes tainted, if you like, or blurred.

“You can walk in to Marks and Spencer’s and get instant mash potato, instant vegetables, instant this, instant that, instant coffee, nobody actually puts time in and the work.

“So a lot of the work that had been built about building structure and a method into how we were working kind of went as we said ‘We can just buy our way out of this’. That wasn’t the way it was going to work and that wasn’t the way Marcus and I had discussed it.

“To be fair to the chairman [David Sheepshanks], to be fair to Derek [Bowden], we were working to a plan - here’s where we see the club in three months, six months, 18 months, so there was a definitive plan put in place.”

So when Evans came in there was a definitive plan put in place which wasn’t adhered to? “One hundred per cent. I met him privately, we had discussions, he was happy with it, we gave him players that we were looking at, he was happy with it.

“Again, Marcus being Marcus he was getting a lot of information. If you’re Marcus Evans and you come into the game, the first people who are going to ring you are agents, so he was getting inundated with agents, good, bad and indifferent and I was trying to shield him from the bad and indifferent.

“[I was trying to get him to work with] the people I had worked with as a player and in 16 months as a manager. Not so much trusted, there’s always a guarded trust anyway but you deal with an agent who gets you a good player, you’ll go back to him and say ‘Any more good players?’. Simple as that.

“Agents that give you dodgy players or players that are high maintenance, low output, you bin. You just say ‘No thank you, I wouldn’t deal with him’.

“Marcus in all honesty was very transparent, he’d ring me and say ‘What do you think of him?’. ‘Don’t go near him, don’t touch him, Marcus.’ And he went ‘Right, fine’. So I had a very open, honest relationship with him.”

Did he get on well with Evans at that point? “I did. I liked Marcus, I never had any issue Marcus, not until the death. I never had any issues with him. He was very straight with him and I got on very with him.”

At the time the takeover was completed Magilton had been offered a new contract by Sheepshanks and Evans honoured that deal, even if the manager always had a feeling that he wouldn’t have been the new owner’s number one choice.

“Listen, I might not have been Marcus’s cup of tea, when a new owner comes in they want their own man. I was still a throwback to the old board and the chairman,” he said.

“I understood that I was going to be put under the microscope, but which manager isn’t? And at the end of the day, I felt I had that sort of relationship with him, that he would come to me.

“Now in the end I didn’t particularly like how he dealt with [my sacking], I thought it was poor, how he dealt with it. At the end of the day I don’t qualms about him, my dealings with him, but there was always that thing maybe in the back of your head, am I really his cup of tea?

“Those first three months reflected that we had a working relationship and we were getting on very well. He was happy with progress, I wanted instant success too. There’s nobody more determined or ambitious than me, I’ll tell you that now.

“I was working tirelessly to bring that success to the club and you bring that with the turnover of players but also the right quality players coming into the club.”

With Evans’s money suddenly giving far greater freedom in the transfer market, was it as if Christmas had come with the Blues making five additions in the January transfer window?

“Yes, of course it was, because you could go and deal at another level, ”Magilton admitted. “Not massive signings but they were still at a level where we were going to be competitive.

“The lads that had come in initially brought us to a level, we knew we had to bring in another level of player to get us to the next level, if that makes sense. Of course it does, if you get better players you’re going to stand a better chance.

“The turnover was high but we were getting there and we were trying to get players out and looking after them because the exit strategy was equally as important, thanking them for everything they’ve done, and the getting another one in.

“And then it was about getting to pre-season and building a group together that was going to have a right go.”

Was it a case of bringing in the best Championship players within the budget? David Norris being an example, a player who had been outstanding at one of the smaller Championship clubs, Plymouth.

“Yes, again I was guided in that by playing against him, he had enormous quality, I had always had this thing about him that I always liked, a steeliness about him and I thought we needed a little bit more of that,” Magilton recalled.

Photo: Action Images

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grow_our_own added 18:12 - Apr 2
"the work that had been built about building structure and a method into how we were working kind of went"
Pretty damning. Evans was, and perhaps still is a total-f#ckwit about what made ITFC great. It wasn't through instantly buying teams. All he needed to do was use the same strategy as had always worked at ITFC, namely, building around one of the best youth set-ups in the country and filling in gaps by signing the underappreciated. The only difference he should have brought was holding onto our best players for a bit longer. Instead he jetissoned the secret-sauce along with > £100m. We now vie with Sunderland to be worst team in England relative to club size. Idiot.

Dozzells_Bobblehat added 19:00 - Apr 2
Very interesting reads thank you .
Genuinely surprised Jim didn't go onto great things in management. In my book he has all the skills.
Lot of time for him as a player too.
Wish we had him now . In fact if Lambo leaves ....?

Daniel72 added 01:55 - Apr 3
This financial crash came just when Downes and Dobra were gonna dynamite the midfield!

TimmyH added 12:15 - Apr 3
The first in a long line of poor decisions by Mr Evans...and he keeps making them!

Facefacts added 14:23 - Apr 3
One of the greats. Not been to the FA Cup Fifth Round since he left. What a day out that was. Wherever you look, our club has 'gone'. Millions in debt and dropping down the leagues.

d77sgw added 15:58 - Apr 3
I'm loving these articles, and watching the highlights of Bolton, Norwich etc. but God, it makes me want to cry thinking about what has happened to my club. Is it just me or does it feel like everything has got a bit sh*t over the last 10 yrs....C-19, the high-street's dying, the nation's up to its eye-balls in debt, we've got populist lying numptys running half the countries in the world, and our lifestye's are pretty much killing off any future for our grandkids...puts it into perspective I suppose...

ArnieM added 18:11 - Apr 3
I wonder if there’s a way back for Magic at Ipswich Town FC? And if Evans would ever insider re employing him? Because all said and done Magilton did blood6 well in his first real amateurs role 8n the game didn’t he.

BlueandTruesince82 added 23:08 - Apr 3
This was a cracking read.

The manner of Jim's sacking was not good, I thought he was just finding his feet as mananger and at least deserved the backing of one more summer.


tractorboybig added 07:30 - Apr 4
a very good read,
The day jim was sacked was the day this club died.

Bluearmy_81 added 10:52 - Apr 4
Why any town fan would refer to him as 'Mr Evans' is beyond me. Its a bit like if your neighbour was fcukin your wife and when you saw him you called him 'mate' ..

bernie added 11:28 - Apr 4
Just read the evening star and the article on league 1 reporters on how managers have faired , I knew myself already !! But dear o dear mr Lambert you’re got a lot to answer for !! 😡

ChrisFelix added 13:41 - Apr 4
Its simply the wrong person bought our club.
Evans Clegg & Keane were the beginning of a disaster !
Shame a fan of the club didnt buy ITFC

Blue_Again added 15:07 - Apr 4
Let’s all be honest Jim didn’t have the right personality to be a good manager long term. He was abrasive like Keane which showed in he’s dismissal at QPR where there was a player revolt against him. Great player for us though as Keane was a great captain for united, but let’s not kid ourselves he was never going to be our saviour.

grow_our_own added 17:38 - Apr 4
There was a "revolt" here against Sir Bobby Robson too.

In the season Evans arrived, Magilton's young team had won every home game for the first half of the season. Some by 3+ goals. He was really building something. We'd just won the FA Youth Cup, the future was bright. Then Evans turned up in December and set about dismantling everything that was good about ITFC.

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