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McGreal Confirmed as Interim Manager
Monday, 6th Dec 2021 10:45

Town have confirmed the appointment of former defender John McGreal as interim manager following Paul Cook’s sacking on Saturday, and that the former boss’s coaching team, Gary Roberts, Franny Jeffers, Ian Craney and John Keeley, have also left the club.

McGreal, who rejoined the club last week as an U23s coach, will be assisted by Rene Gilmartin, his deputy during his short spell as manager at Swindon in the summer, U23s manager Kieron Dyer and head of academy goalkeeping Carl Pentney.

The club say the 49-year-old “will be in charge of Town for Tuesday night’s trip to Charlton”, suggesting his tenure may not be too long.

All McGreal's games as manager were at Colchester, one game as caretaker in 2015 and a spell between 2016 and 2020 during which time the U's were in League Two. In his 204 matches in charge, he saw the North Essex side to 76 wins, 55 draws and 73 defeats.

He saw the U's to eighth, 13th, eighth and sixth in his seasons in charge with the latter campaign ending in play-off semi-final defeat.

Dubliner Gilmartin is a former keeper, who played for Walsall, Plymouth and Colchester, during McGreal's time in charge of the U's, among a number of others.

The 34-year-old will be well-known to CEO Mark Ashton having been a back-up keeper at Bristol City for two years until the summer. He has also worked as the Republic of Ireland U21s coach since 2019.

Departing first-team coach Roberts, a Town winger under Jim Magilton, was appointed to his role by Cook in March, hanging up his boots as he did so having been in his third spell at Accrington Stanley.

Jeffers joined as another first-team coach in the summer from Everton, where he had been coaching their U23s, while Craney was recruited as a coach at the same time having previously worked with Cook at Wigan as kitman, although the Blues manager subsequently said that while that was his job title with the Latics that wasn’t his job, that was the only way to get him on to his staff.

Keeley also moved to the Blues in the summer having previously worked with Cook at Portsmouth.

Photo: Action Images

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BcarefulwhatUWish4 added 13:14 - Dec 6
Thanks for your time at Portman Road : Francis Jeffers, Gary Roberts, Ian Craney and John Keeley.

And good luck John McGreal.

dirtydingusmagee added 13:15 - Dec 6
As soon as Cook came up with the ''drama queens'' comment i thought it was a ''parting shot'' .He was always praising fans and saying it was all about the fans, but he knew the game was up , and that was his reaction, he knew after the weeks results had hit a bum note he was toast so fired that comment in .

itsonlyme added 13:23 - Dec 6
I implore the Board to take their time and appoint the right manager! This club needs stability more than ever! We should aim as high as we can!

Bazza8564 added 13:24 - Dec 6
Pezzer nails it, but the fact the announcement talks about tuesday at Charlton leads me to believe Ashton has a guy lined up. The comments Saturday saying the opposite, before anybody jumps on me, were simply to avoid an accusation of constructive dismissal. I wasnt a Cook out man, but saturday it was obvious he would have to go and ive said all along, trust the board.
We will all have our thoughts, personally i would like to see us do what Rangers did with Gerrard and bring in a really high quality player with recent badges and good coaching credentials, so John Terry, Michael Carrick, someone of that type. Someone who will be able to absolutely nail the dressing room and instill pride to play for him, and someone who has the ambition to make this work because his future depends on it, rather than an old sod looking for one more payday who might just about get us out of L1. We have to look for someone we can build around for 5-7 years and take us on a journey to where we think we belong.
And we need to back him too, all of us, no bitching about scouse mates and all that embarrassing stuff we've seen on here last 6 months.
Time to show us what you are capable of Mark, you've moved mountains to get players in, we have money, lets see how ambitious we really are.....

62WasBest added 13:24 - Dec 6
Europablue - you are wrong. Ipswich is Suffolk's only league team and has plenty of supporters that live in the county but nowhere near Ipswich. When I last looked plenty of Suffolk borders Cambridgeshire and is closer to Cambridge than Ipswich, so it can wellbe described as a local derby. It is pretty myopic to think the club only represents those living in Ipswich and if you don't recognise that others in Suffolk support the club whatever do you make of all those Essex based supporters ?

blues1 added 13:24 - Dec 6
Linkboy13. I'm assuming ur a fan who wants q big name manager? Why? We've been down that route several times now, and where has it got us? Frankly, I don't care who gets it, as long as he can get us the success we all crave. While Im not convinced sacking Cook was the right decision,I understand the reason it's happened. And I will back whoever gets the job. Unfortunately, I expect all those fans who've wanted cook to go, will want the next manager sacked too, if he doesn't get results after his 1st 6 matches or so. Seems to be the way with a certain section of our fans nowadays. Amd whole Cook maybe didn't help himself with his comments about the fans, he was actually right. This needs to stop when the new man arrives, and he needs to be given the time by fans.

grubbyoik added 13:25 - Dec 6
Don't ever think that this was a knee jerk reaction. This lot don't do unplanned business... people will have been sounded out and be in place.. but the deal can't be announced or go ahead just yet.. hence McGreal stepping in.

Gforce added 13:26 - Dec 6
Good luck John,here's hoping for a 100 % record,after a probable 2 games in charge.Two extremely important games nonetheless 👏

Marinersnose added 13:27 - Dec 6
I will remember Cook as an extremely affable man but I felt him public criticism of players last season set the tone and put him into the unprofessional bracket. He didn’t have any experience on the coaching staff and this was the likely cause of his demise. I for one wasn’t ever impressed by his football albeit it was slightly more expansive that last season. There’s time f9r the right candidate to rescue our season

Europablue added 13:32 - Dec 6
The bitching about the Scouser mates was because they seemed like a closed shop. It didn't really feel like it mattered which club they were working at because they didn't really pay much attention to details that the fans would have cared about. It's fine that Cook is from Liverpool and supports Liverpool, but no need to mention it all the time!

Steve_ITFC_Sweden added 13:36 - Dec 6
I assume J McG will do the interim job and then step down to continue with the U23s when a new, more experienced manager is appointed. McG would hardly have agreed to come and then disappear completely after a couple of matches.
Of course, he could have been given the chance to show what he can do, with the carrot of a longer-term first team appointment if he's successful. We don't know what the owners have in mind, but it will be very interesting to find out.

Europablue added 13:38 - Dec 6
The point isn't the proximity to Cambridge. It's the history and Cambridge don't really have a history with us. It's like saying that Liverpool vs Wigan is a local derby. I'm from Essex and live on the Continent. Obviously, Colchester is the most local derby but the only real derby is Norwich and we lament the fact that we are so far off their standard right now.

Unhinged_dynamo added 13:39 - Dec 6
I'd like to give someone like Carrick, Stewart or Terry a chance, sol Campbell did decent jobs at struggling teams, what could he do if he wasn't trying to avoid falling out of the leagues? Would the Chelsea women's manager fancy a go in the men's game? Or there's foreign managers who we aren't aware of. So many options to look at, hope the board take their time with John in charge and get it right

bluesheds added 13:40 - Dec 6
So if the current owners, directors are as professional and football savvy as they like to portray, something all town fans have been calling for, i cant see they have done this without a new man lined maybe just still agreeing either terms with him or with the club he is currently at because it happened a week sooner than expected.

Dissboyitfc added 13:40 - Dec 6
I disagree Arnie, for me our last best manager was a rookie, Evans first mistake was in getting rid of him, Jim Magilton!. So possibly not the uproar you would think, especially if we got off to a flier!

hyperbrit added 13:52 - Dec 6
and Dyer is recovering from a liver transplant? Does anyone realize how long that takes?

budgieplucker added 13:54 - Dec 6
I wasn’t the least bit surprised that Cook was removed. Not that I disliked PC, nor did I think he wouldn’t eventually get it right. I don’t think all the 19 new arrivals were completely all PC’s choice but he did probably agree to them all. To be fair by the law of averages there were going to be a few of them who might not work, so you have to take account of that. Harper and Edwards bought with the future in mind but for me at the moment are no where near a reliable first team start. Ashton wants a head coach and not a good old fashion manager, he interviewed PC for the Bristol job and was I believe somewhere on record as stating PC didn’t fit the culture they were trying to run or need at City. Part of the gig is to produce players and pick up young players like Harper and Edwards and sell on.

I am not taking sides here either way with Ashton or PC, and whilst I was a little sad to see PC go I recognise this is a very different club now and with the American investment I don’t believe they wanted to risk the atmosphere turning toxic. The fans have been outstanding and attended matches in their droves, with the Owners drive to build the fan base with initiatives like Pack Out PR, it was starting to become a hard sell and danger that their plans could be set back several months as the form deteriorated- only 7 wins in 23 home matches for PC is hardly an advert to get fans clicking through the turnstiles. 13 wins in 44 and the real risk of the away support starting to dwindle would have taken so much momentum out of the clubs start under the Game hanger ownership. This decision was certainly commercially driven by owners with a culture of having to satisfy the customer, plus potentially the longer term decision to be able to move more to the head coach and convert PC from an old fashioned manager into a new type of continental role. All in all PC had nine months and a fair crack at the whip, was very brave and maybe unlucky. Wigan near the top and had a large influx of new players and got off to a good start. Michael Appleton brought in 17 players at Lincoln last season and was close to the top six all term. So it can be done with a large turnover especially if you are bringing some individuals who know your system and played for you before.

We all welcomed Gamechanger as a breath of fresh air, we have to accept their decision at this very early point in their ownership and remember they will not tolerate failure for too long - many said we had become to cost and to nice a club!!! I am sure PC will go on to do well somewhere else and wish him well, also I don’t think he will be to sore with a couple of million quid in his back pocket. We have to move on….

John McGreal will be a safe pair of hands for a transition…….

I wouldn’t though personally rule out Warnock for a very short term until the end of the season appointment….I don’t think they will go for that though, the work he did in a very short spell at Rotherham in avoiding relegation from the Championship when he took over when they looked dead and buried for some weeks has to be the most effective spell of management and motivation I have seen in watching football and following town in my sixty odd years.

Not having quite the same profile as a Gerrard or Lampard, I personally think Michael Carrick could be persuaded to join us and would be a good appointment, however, he left Man Utd for a break so we might need to buy some time for someone like him, hence the attraction of not being too hasty to appoint and let an interim appointment run for a while.

Otherwise Manning and Hogg but again a little early, MK put a lot of trust and confidence in them and I can’t see them wanting to betray that this soon and in a way I like the scruples of trying to repay the faith of Pete Winkleman as that is the right thing to do in my mind.

JewellintheTown added 13:59 - Dec 6
With non-UK owners with a broader vision, wouldn't surprise me if we ventured into Europe's pot of out-of-work managers this time around.

grumpyoldman added 14:14 - Dec 6
What happened to the VVV Venlo manager who was allegedly on the radar before Lambert?

Bergholtblue added 14:18 - Dec 6
There is a lot here that just doesn't make sense.

If McGreal is only short term e.g. 1 or 2 matches, why has he been allowed to bring in his assistant Gilmartin as well.

Yes, McGreal could step back and coach the U23's but he has been a first team manager so are Town U23's the height of his ambition. And if he does step back what then becomes of Gilmartin? Or will he help out with the U23s as well? Possibly with Keiren Dyer needing a liver transplant sometime soon and presumably will be out for a while convalescing.

My thoughts are that McGreal could be here longer than imagined, probably dependant upon results and team performance. Otherwise it just doesn't make much sense. I liked McGreal as a player and would be delighted if it works out for him. If not, I don't know who I would like . Talking of ex-players I wouldn't be unhappy with Mogga coming back but I don't suppose for 1 minute he would.

bugblatter added 14:21 - Dec 6
…and doesn’t he look happy about it!

Europablue added 14:28 - Dec 6
Mark Ashton stated that there have not been any side conversations prior to Cook's dismissal and that McGreal was brought in without a view to being the interim manager and he was chosen as the most experienced manager as well as being an Ipswich man. If that is true, I wouldn't expect an appointment to be made that quickly. I think if McGreal gets some good results, maybe that will make the permanent appointment less time-sensitive. This is the most important appointment in a long time. Now hopefully the team will have a chance to settle now the upper management team is in place and the new owners have got their feet under the table. The basic problem was too much change at once. Other clubs that have sucessfully made wholesale changes to the playing staff had otherwise more settled clubs.

Bert added 15:07 - Dec 6
I haven’t a clue who will be in the running for the job. All I know is that listening to Cook after the Barrow game sounded like a man lost, struggling to say how he could put things right on the pitch and blaming fans for the flat atmosphere. That sounded alarm bells for me as it took MM and Lambert years to start blaming the fans !!

xantherick added 15:21 - Dec 6
Am i hearing you lot correctly, John WHO, what a load of rubbish, we will have Ronnie Barker on the bench next. We are are big club and all we can muster is John flaming mc Greal. I hope its not permanent or i shall put my season ticket down the pan.

blues1 added 15:53 - Dec 6
Bergholtblue. It's simple really. Gilmartin has come in on a temporary basis to help mcgreal out bcse they've worked together before. As soon as mcgreal steps back down, he'll leave again. Probably happy to earn a bit of money albeit for a short time.

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