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My Best Town XI: George Burley - Part Two
Friday, 17th Apr 2020 14:00

In the sixth part of the series, Kieron Dyer catches up with legend George Burley, who selects the best XI from his time managing the Blues before Dyer assesses the side.

Goalkeeper Richard Wright - What an unbelievable character, he worked his socks off with coach Malcolm Webster every day to become the keeper that he did. He was an international by the age of 21. When he left to go to Arsenal, he had a clause in his contract so Town couldn’t prevent it and it was a good move for him at the time because he thought David Seaman was going to retire. But when he got there, unfortunately for him, Seaman stayed on for another couple of seasons and his career didn’t kick on. But while he was at Ipswich he used to win us a number of points a season on his own just with his saves. Incredible.

Right-centre-half John McGreal - We got John from Tranmere, he was fantastic on the ball, I like my teams to play from the back and he complemented that very well. He was very, very intelligent and he formed a formidable partnership with Mogga [Tony Mowbray]. Mogga used to lead him and John McGreal used to take it all on board and it’s no coincidence he’s gone on to become to be a manager now.

Centre-half Tony Mowbray (c) - Mogga was a winner, he was a great organiser, had an unbelievable football mind, was always in the right place at the right time. Something I got from Bobby Robson which I remembered when I was a manager was to always develop players. When I got Mogga in he was in limbo doing basically nothing at Celtic. I got him in and I got another five years out him as a player, which I take great pride from.



Left centre-half Mark Venus - We got him from Wolves when he wasn’t in the Wolves team. I used to joke with Wolves that they paid me to take Veno because he part of the deal which saw Steve Sedgley move the other way. He had a great left foot, an unbelievable left foot. What I liked about Veno was that he always challenged me as a coach. If I'd tell Veno to do something, he would always ask why, ‘Why am I doing this, why do you want me to do that?’. He had a great cross on him, he scored so many goals from freekicks as a centre-half. I said that Arnold Muhren had every club in the bag, Veno’s driver would go about 450 yards.

Right wing-back Mick Stockwell - Bubbly, energetic, infectious, a buzz-wagon. All these words describe Mick Stockwell. He could play anywhere, he played so many games for the club, an unbelievable servant.

Left wing-back Mauricio Taricco - A very, very clever player. The nicest guy off the pitch, he would kick his granny on it. He took a while to settle in but once he did he was incredible. What I loved about him, being a full-back myself, was that he never got beaten at the far post. He never really got beaten in one-on-ones as well. He had so much energy, he was fantastic.

Midfield Matt Holland - A great character, a great attitude, a 110 per cent-er. A heart the size of a lion, could do everything as a midfielder, scored goals, tackled, passed, he had a wide range of passes, he could create, he was box to box. And I love his story, that it didn’t work out for him at West Ham, so he went to Bournemouth in the lower leagues, we signed him and then he went on to score a goal in the World Cup for his country.

Midfield Jim Magilton - Another one, like Veno and Mogga, whose career was in limbo a bit. He came in on loan from Sheffield Wednesday and he made everyone play. He was so demanding, he was so brave. I don’t think it worked out for him at Southampton because when I spoke to someone there they said that when Jim had the ball there the manager would say ‘Give the ball to Matthew Le Tissier, every player had to give the ball to Matthew Le Tissier. When he came to Ipswich, the instructions were ‘Give the ball to Jim Magilton’ and he absolutely flourished.

Midfield Kieron Dyer - I went to watch Kieron in a youth team game at Chelsea. After 20 minutes I said to my assistant Dale Roberts ‘He’ll do for me’. He could play anywhere, he was so adaptable, his energy was second to none. He was great on the ball. I think in his short spell at Ipswich Kieron played in every position except for goalkeeper and centre-half. And that brings intelligence because you get to see the game from different areas of the pitch. After he left Ipswich he went on to play for big clubs and become a full international which is one of my great satisfactions.

Striker Marcus Stewart - If you score 19 goals in the Premiership, you cannot be left out of this team. I never beat Liverpool as a player at Anfield but when we beat Liverpool in 2000/01 Marcus Stewart scored the goal. I watched a little bit of him at Huddersfield and when we sold Kieron Dyer to Newcastle he was a player I wanted to bring in. What is lost on a lot of fans is that while Jim Magilton gets a lot of headlines for the hat-trick he scored in the second leg of the play-off semi-final, Marcus’s two in the first leg kept us in the game because Bolton were probably the better team over the two legs. He scored all types of goal and having scored 19 goals in the Premiership he had to be in this team.

Striker James Scowcroft - James Scowcroft is my other striker, more for balance. What I liked about him was he was adaptable so if I wanted to change it I could put Scowy wide on the right and Kieron wide on the left. Scowy could bring great balance to the team. He had unbelievable hold-up play, two great feet, technically incredible. I used to nickname him ‘Sleepy Suffolk’ because sometimes he wasn’t aggressive enough given the size of him. Another academy player who came through the system and went on to play for another Premiership club, Leicester, and do extremely well.

Kieron’s View

With this team, you look at David Johnson, I think he has a strong case for being included. I think he scored more than 20 goals a season for three or four years. But as the gaffer says, Marcus did score 19 goals in the Premiership and you can see why he’s gone for Scowy from a balance point of view.

I think Jamma [Jermaine Wright] was a bit of an unsung hero in George’s era. I left and Jamma came in and he helped the team get promoted and then he played in the season in which Town finished fifth in the Premier League.

So I could see him feeling hard done by that maybe I could have been taken out and Jamma put in because Matt, Jim and Jamma were a great part of the success in getting up and in the Premier League.

Again, I’ve mentioned Jamie Clapham before, him being hard done by not to get in my team. Maybe Jamie Clapham is also a bit unlucky not to get in George’s side.

Playing a 3-5-2 you can see why Bobby Petta’s not up for selection. And also there’s also Fabian Wilnis, he played in the Premier League for George but it’s very hard to argue with Mick Stockwell at right-back because of the service he’s done for the club.

Hermann Hreidarsson was fantastic for George as well but for me Veno was so under-appreciated, he was incredible. Trust me, he was such an incredible player and it’s no coincidence that every player from this era, Johnno, me, Geraint Williams, we’ve all gone for Veno, so you can’t really argue with Veno’s selection. Titus might have had a shout coming through the academy.

I did ask George to tell me what he thought the scoreline would be between the team he played with and the team he managed and he said ‘No comment!’.

So I will comment for him. If we held them down to five goals we’d have done very, very well.

Photo: Action Images

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MaySixth added 14:18 - Apr 17
What a team
Wilnis, Clapham, Wirght, Johnson and Reuser on the bench

midastouch added 14:30 - Apr 17
When I read this I so want Burley back as a manager. He'd go back to basics and get us building from the bottom up. We would reap the rewards of our academy far greater with Burley working alongside the likes of Klug.

Bergholt_Blue added 15:28 - Apr 17
What I'd give for a team like that now

Edmundo added 18:52 - Apr 17
Wish we'd kept the 2000-1 team a bit longer. I maintain that with Wrighty and Scowy we would have stayed up.

Cakeman added 20:36 - Apr 17
It’s remarkable how enthusiastic George has always been for our club. Be it player, manager or supporter. With exception of Sir Alf’s great teams George has probably seen all of our best players over the years so is best qualified to comment.
I also think midastouch is right, we do need George back at the helm if we are to reverse the worrying current state we are in. I like Paul Lambert but I am really not sure that he can build us up to be a decent force again.

BlueBlood90 added 21:22 - Apr 17
As much as I love these it’s making me more depressed seeing some of the teams and players we used to have compared to now. Going from the likes of Mauricio Taricco and Matt Holland to Janoi Donacien and Cole Skuse!

grow_our_own added 10:20 - Apr 18
Surprised to see Scowcroft in there considering Burley's frankly barmy decision to jettison him in the summer of 2001, after one of our most successful seasons of all time. Perhaps Burley now, like everyone else, considers that a major error. A great coach, and perhaps the right manager for ITFC, but given money, he proved not to be a great wheeler-dealer in the transfer market. That Manager of the Year award went to his head.

Pecker added 20:48 - Apr 18
Can only dream of such a team nowadays.

rugbytomc added 23:06 - Apr 20
Loved reading this. It contains two of my favourites in Micky Stockwell and Mark Venus. Venus was the first centre back I’ve ever seen dribble the ball out like a midfielder. A bit Tony Adams esque if you like by without the big nose or drinking problem. Micky is the greatest right back of my era. Over wilnis, zondervan, Wright. Not much competition is it but he was immense up and down that right side.
Dunno why burley only ever succeeded at Ipswich. I also think is going down had more
To do with redeveloping the north stand that season than anything else!

Jermaine Wright was like Skuse today-under rated but also didn’t consistently show his best.
Dyer, Petta, Reuser-they were some special players in my era. Dyer was more consistent injuries aside but loved watching all 3. I’d have given sixto peralta an honourable mention too.

Why as a club are we so good at finding left backs yet it’s taken us years to find another good right back?!

rugbytomc added 23:14 - Apr 20
Forgot to say Owen Garvan would make my team. He was the cesc fabregas of the championship!

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