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Monday, 28 October, 2002, 12:52 GMT
Ipswich's Royle command
Ipswich hope they are safe in Joe Royle's hands
Ipswich Town hope they are safe in Joe Royle's hands

Joe Royle's appointment as Ipswich Town manager has not met with widespread approval from the club's followers.

A section of the normally placid Ipswich fanbase registered their loud disappointment at the board's choice of replacement for the popular George Burley during the defeat against Gillingham.

It is not the best of starts for a man who does not take kindly to criticism - but his track record of guiding teams into the top flight suggests the jeers may eventually turn to cheers.

Quite why Royle attracted such hostility at Portman Road is a mystery, although he was less than gracious reaction after a Worthington Cup quarter-final defeat against Ipswich.

He accused Ipswich defender Hermann Hreidarsson of attempted "decapitation" on Kevin Horlock and bemoaned his side's luck.

Royle, however, will be swiftly forgiven if he can repeat a trick he has performed before at Oldham Athletic and Manchester City, and guide Ipswich back into the top flight.

He has never had problems getting teams into the Premiership - only keeping them there.

Joe Royle has won promotion before
Joe Royle has won promotion before

Royle also saved Everton from seemingly certain relegation with the famous tough-tackling "Dogs of War" - a tag he light-heartedly applied himself and later regretted when it stuck.

Ipswich can expect more of the same under Royle, who does not believe a team can ease its way out of trouble.

Royle will instil a competitive style, indulge his understandable love of wingers, and order his new charges not to give an inch of ground.

It will provide the sort of fare that is effective in the lower divisions, but essentially limited at the highest level, hence his problems keeping his job at Everton and Manchester City.

Ipwich fans should not fear Royle being a man without hunger after his shock sacking at Manchester City.

Joe Royle's joy at City
Joe Royle's joy at City

He has a point to prove after being fired following successive promotions and one flop in the Premier League.

Even the fiercest critics of Royle and his style - and I count myself among them - regarded that as a tough call from the City board.

And he was also angered at suggestions he fostered a "drink culture" at Maine Road, charges that hurt and ones he vigourously denied.

Royle will also raise the profile and spirit of the club with his public charm and plentiful one-liners, although his sensitivity to criticism is a major weakness.

But if Ipswich fans set the early prejudices to one side, they may discover they have the right man to put them back on the stage they believe is rightfully theirs.

 VOTE RESULTS
Is Joe Royle the right man for Ipswich?

Yes
 39.68% 

No
 60.32% 

9680 Votes Cast

Results are indicative and may not reflect public opinion

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21 May 01 | Photo Galleries
28 Oct 02 | Football
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