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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