Ashton: McGreal to Be Permanent Boss? Never Say Never But I Expect an External Appointment
Monday, 6th Dec 2021 14:20
Town CEO Mark Ashton spoke to TWTD’s Phil Ham at lunchtime regarding John McGreal’s appointment as interim-manager and the former central defender’s chances of getting the job permanently.
McGreal, 49, was handed a coaching role with the U23s only two days prior to Cook’s departure and this morning was confirmed as the interim boss following his former Tranmere team-mate’s sacking on Saturday.
Ashton denies that McGreal was brought into the academy role so he was in place to take temporary charge once Cook was sacked.
“No, again it’s a fair question and a lot of people will put one and one together and not get the right answer,” he said.
“We’d been speaking to John for probably a month or so because we need to bring experienced, high-quality coaches into that development group. We’re understaffed in that area, for sure.
“I’d never met him, I asked Paul Cook about him and Paul talked very, very positively about him and said ‘Yes, bring him in’.
“So I interviewed him with [director of football operations] Gary Probert probably around three weeks ago and Gary concluded the contractual arrangements with him.
“And only the second time I ever met him was after the game on Saturday, when we’d made the decision, with Mike O’Leary to ask him to step in as an interim or caretaker-manager.
“He was shocked, that’s an understatement but he was really professional. He said, ‘Look, I’m really shocked, this is the last thing I expected, but I’m an Ipswich Town man, I love the club, you’re asking me for my help, I’ll absolutely step forward and help you’. And we’re very grateful for that.”
Ashton says McGreal will be in charge beyond Tuesday’s game at Charlton but with his position open-ended.
“It won’t be just for Charlton, there’s no timescale on it,” the Blues CEO added. “I’ve said to him ‘I want you to take the team until we appoint the manager’.
“I had a meeting with [U23s manager] Kieron [Dyer] yesterday and asked Kieron to step up and assist. He was fantastic as well.
“We’ve brought Rene Gilmartin in, who I know very well, who was also John’s assistant at Swindon, so that was almost like a perfect storm, the stars lined up that someone was available that we both knew and trusted.
“He’s an outstanding young coach that brings a real presence. He will support John with Kieron, but from a time perspective we’ve got no one lined up, there have been no clandestine meetings because this industry is too small for that.
“We’ve been inundated with people over the last 24 hours and we’ll start to run that process today.”
Ashton says nothing should be read into McGreal having been allowed to name an assistant.
“We need hands, we need bodies and within that we’ve turned to someone that we, bizarrely, both know and trust,” Ashton said, the Blues having confirmed the departure of Cook’s coaching staff, Gary Roberts, Franny Jeffers, Ian Craney and John Keeley, this morning.
“Rene also works with the Irish U21s, he was my U23s coach at Bristol City. He then moved on to Swindon as assistant manager.
“You’ll meet him at some point, a real presence, a very, very bright young man. The stars lined up to bring him in. We needed another pair of hands because I certainly wasn’t going to do the coaching.”
Has McGreal got a chance of getting the job full-time? “You can never say never, can you? If he goes and wins every game and we get promoted, that’s going to give us a very different question to answer.
“The honest answer is that we’re looking external. I’ve been really honest with John. I’ve said to him, ‘Your hands are on the wheel, it’s your team, you run it, you do it, you play how you want to play, get on with it and get as many points on the board as you can’.
“We’ll take it as it comes. The honest answer to that is that as we talk now, I expect it to be an external appointment but let John McGreal go and win some games and give us a problem.”
Ashton says he has talked to the players about the situation: “I spoke to a handful of senior players yesterday, I spoke to several of the senior players early this morning and then I met the whole squad with staff after that.
“And they’ve been very professional, very good. They’ve said to me ‘We’re all in this together and we have to be held responsible as well here Mark. Ultimately Paul pays the price but we need to do more, we haven’t performed and got the results to the levels we should have done and we need to look ourselves in the mirror’.
“As do all of us. We all need to take a look in the mirror, everyone inside the football club because the manager pays the price but we are all in this together.
“The players have been spoken to, been very good, been very strong and we move forward.”
Photo: Matchday Images
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