My Best Town XI: Jim Magilton
Friday, 15th May 2020 19:29
In part 31 of the series, Kieron Dyer catches up with Town legend Jim Magilton, who selects the best XI from his spell as a Blues player before Dyer evaluates his team.
Goalkeeper Richard Wright - Had a great work ethic and was the best goalkeeper in the division.
Centre-half John McGreal - Superb reader of the game and passer of the ball.
Centre-half Tony Mowbray - Best communicator I’ve played with. Leader.
Centre-half Mark Venus - Superb passer of the ball. Started attacks with his range of passing.
Right wing—back Fabian Wilnis - Outstanding athlete and technically very good.
Left wing-back Hermann Hreidarsson - Superb athlete. Attitude and application top notch.
Midfield Matt Holland - He was good in all areas of the game. Great attitude on and off the pitch.
Midfield Kieron Dyer - Match-winner. As quick with the ball as without. Dance over the ground.
Midfield Jim Magilton - Blessed with the quality around me that highlighted my strengths.
Striker Marcus Stewart - Quality movement bought him thinking time. Superb finisher.
Striker David Johnson - Pace, aggression and power. Unplayable at times.
James Scowcroft - He had an all-round game that gave him so many options.
Jim’s gone for Richard Wright in goal, he says he had a great work ethic and he was the best goalkeeper in the division.
I remember in the last season I was at Ipswich FourFourTwo was the big publication back then, it was like football’s bible, and they had their end-of-season awards where every manager and captain in the league picked the player of the year in that league. And Richard Wright came second.
So when Jim says that he was the best goalkeeper in the division, according to all the other managers and captains of the teams that Richard played against he was the second best player in the league full stop, let alone among just the goalkeepers, that’s how great he was viewed.
If you’re wondering about the other places, Craig Bellamy was third and Kieron Dyer was first! Second place isn’t bad Wrighty. But most importantly Craig Bellamy was third. I always still bring that up!
Richard really picks himself in goal. Jim’s gone for Fabian Wilnis as his right wing-back and Hermann Hreidarsson as his left wing-back. I was initially surprised that Mauricio Taricco wasn’t there but then I realised that Taricco had gone by the time Jim came in, so Jim never played alongside him.
He’s gone for Hermann Hreidarsson over Jamie Clapham. Both top players, it’s which one you favour. As a left wing-back I prefer Jamie Clapham but I’ve got no beef with Jim picking Hermann.
His back three is the three that played in the play-off final, Mogga, John McGreal and Veno. I’ve said plenty about them when talking about other XIs.
It did make me laugh that Jim said in his recent TWTD interview that when he first came to the club he raised the standard of training.
I have to say that the reason he says that is because every Friday we used to have young versus old games and the young ‘uns used to absolutely batter the old ‘uns all the time. Absolutely batter them.
Jim comes in and realises that he’s getting his backside handed to him every week, so that’s when the moaning came out even more, and the drive and focus.
So yes, he did improve standards in training but it was because we used to absolutely batter the golden oldies because we had so many talented youngsters in Scowy, Johnno, Bobby Petta, myself, I think even Matt Holland was then classed as a youngster and we used to give them the runaround.
So when Jim says he raised standards in training it’s because his moaning went through the roof because we absolutely battered them. And when you look at that back three there, they were the golden oldies that Jim used to try his best on a Friday to give us a game.
In midfield he’s put himself with me and Matt Holland, that’s been the midfield in a lot of these XIs. It’s got a bit of everything, energy, pace, some toughness with Matt, goals, assists, technical ability. I don’t think you go too far wrong with that midfield.
I’ve said before that after I left Jamma [Jermaine Wright] came in and actually got promoted, which I didn’t, so you could always put Jamma in for me, I’d have no qualms about that. But that’s a solid midfield.
And up front he’s gone for Marcus Stewart and David Johnson, and has given an honourable mention to Scowy. He’s been in a lot of teams, it’s usually Scowy with one of the other two because Scowy was the link-up player. Jim says he had an “all-round game that gave him so many options”.
He also talks about Jamie Clapham, who as I’ve said I would have in the team, and Jermaine Wright.
I like that Jim has mentioned Pablo Couñago and Darren Bent. Everyone says that the good times stopped after promotion and that season in the Premier League but I agree with Jim, I think if Pablo had played in the team that I played in in the late 90s and in the promotion team he would have fitted in easily. And the same with Darren Bent. Just look at the career Darren Bent had.
It’s good that Jim had this long career as a player at Ipswich and played through a few different generations. And it just goes to show you how good Couñago and Darren Bent were that, while they didn’t make his actual team, he gave them an honourable mention, which is a testament to their ability.
He’s also mentioned Martijn Reuser, who hasn’t made a team yet and I know he’s a big icon and a big fans’ favourite ,but he hasn’t made anyone’s team. I didn’t play with him but all these players who played with him can’t find a place for him.
But you don’t win a cap at full level, as Reuser did in a friendly against Ghana in 1998, without being a very decent player, especially for a nation like Holland at that time.
They had some very good players in that period, the likes of Edgar Davids and Clarence Seedorf in midfield, Patrick Kluivert and Dennis Bergkamp up front, what a team that was. So to force even one cap was some going, he must have been a very good player.
When you have a cap for a major footballing nation like Holland, as I say to Jim and Matt Holland, one England cap is the equivalent of 20 Republic of Ireland caps and 40 Northern Ireland caps. So if Reuser was a Northern Irish international he’d have won more caps than Jim, that’s basically what I’m saying. Only joking Matt and Jim!
He must have been a good player to win a cap for Holland but he hasn’t quite made it into any of these XIs, which goes to show the quality of the individuals that Town had in that period. Everyone talks about the seventies and early eighties teams, and rightly so, but in the late 90s and early 2000s we had some fantastic individuals as well.
I like Jim’s team. It has the same formation as my team. I didn’t play with John McGreal so I had Titus in there. I didn’t play with Hermann Hreidarsson, I had Clapham and Taricco as my wing-backs, I went for Scowy up front, I didn’t play with Marcus Stewart either.
But a very good team from Jim and quite similar to mine, although obviously I didn’t put myself in my team like Jim did. I put Jason Dozzell in my midfield because I think Jason’s in the top 20 players of all-time in Ipswich’s history.
Jim was the best player I played with at Ipswich, and I only played with him for a few months, but I just loved that he was so brave, always wanted the ball.
There are only a few players that I have played with in midfield that could dominate the whole game and you play to their tempo. Paul Scholes was one, Steven Gerrard was another, they dominated. It’s not about assists, they just dominated the whole game, dictated it and played it at their own pace.
And Jim was able to do that as well. I’ve been fortunate to play with the top, top players in England and Scholes and Gerrard were the only two who could do that in midfield. It takes a special type of player.
When I played with Jim we weren’t playing in the top league, but I don’t care what league you’re playing in, to be able to do that just goes to show the level of your football IQ, your ability, your range of passing, he had it all.
He was also the biggest moaner ever, but he never used to moan at me. I was quite privileged that he didn’t moan at me when he was moaning at everyone else.
I’ve spoken to the Neville brothers about Roy Keane about how demanding he was and he was a scary character the way moaned, and Jim had that kind of personality. If you didn’t give him that ball, he was telling you in no uncertain terms.
He was also quite a comedian on the pitch, some of his one-liners were just priceless and you used to laugh.
I’ll never forget the day when he said to Matt “You just go and get the ball and give it to me and Kieron, you get in the box!”. I’ve never laughed so much on a football pitch. He just did it in such a way you couldn’t help but laugh and love the guy.
I think even Matt looked at me, shrugged and just started laughing, saying “OK Jim, I’ll get in the box and score another two goals today” or something like that. Brilliant. He is a brilliant man.
It was just so unfortunate the way it all ended at the football club for him. I didn’t know half the story until reading about it recently. It was just such a shame the way it ended and the way he got sacked.
He is a true legend of the club, and he went and outdid me in the semi-final against Bolton. I thought scoring two goals was the perfect way of saying goodbye and the next year he went and scored a hat-trick. Revenge for all those young-v-old batterings, I suppose.
Photo: Action Images
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