Chairman faces fans

IPSWICH Town supremo David Sheepshanks last night faced a fans' forum for the first time since sacking George Burley. NICK RICHARDS went along to see how the under pressure chairman performed and also gauged the mood of supporters.

IPSWICH Town supremo David Sheepshanks last night faced a fans' forum for the first time since sacking George Burley. NICK RICHARDS went along to see how the under pressure chairman performed and also gauged the mood of supporters.

IPSWICH Town fans finally know the name of one of the candidates to succeed George Burley.

But it will come as no surprise to hear that it's Tony Mowbray.

It was the only minor revelation last night as Town supremo David Sheepshanks and caretaker boss Tony Mowbray came face to face with supporters at a club event in Clacton-on-Sea last night.


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It was the first time since the sacking of George Burley on Friday that Sheepshanks and Mowbray had appeared at such an event and it gave the chance for fans to grill the duo over the current vacant manager's job.

The evening was a supporters' roadshow – the first of the season – and was held at Highfield Holiday Park, Clacton.

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About 750 Essex-based Ipswich fans attended and through a series of carefully chosen questions they asked about everything from players' bonuses to where to purchase cheeseburgers at Portman Road.

Fans wearing Inter Milan and Sartid shirts sat just in front of Sheepshanks – mementoes picked up from foreign trips and a poignant reminder of just how far Burley had taken his team.

One fan wore a Marcus Stewart top – another possible factor in Burley's departure as the league goals dried up.

But that was all in the past and the question everyone wanted answered was who was being groomed as Burley's replacement.

David Sheepshanks wasted little time in kicking the evening off by saying it was an opportunity for fans to vent their views.

"Nothing is taboo" he declared, before failing to shed any new light on who is on the shortlist to succeed Burley.

Sheepshanks, flanked by Mowbray and chief executive Derek Bowden, told us that the current caretaker manager was on the shortlist and said he was not telling anyone the other names.

He appeared upbeat and laughed about the whole Ronnie Moore situation and the fact that someone would ring up Rotherham and pretend to be him – but he revealed he has spoken to the Yorkshire club to clarify the situation.

Meanwhile Tony Mowbray provided fans with a mouth-watering prospect - Thierry Henry in an Ipswich shirt.

It was his answer to a question about which player he would sign if money was no object.

Jamie Clapham, Andy Marshall, Mark Venus and Jermaine Wright, sitting to his right seemed to approve with his choice.

If only football management was that easy.

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The chairman, caretaker manager and players had their chance to speak on Monday night – but what about the fans. What did they think of the events of the last four days?

Mike Trigg, 47, from Clacton said:

"There's a general loss of confidence especially among the players. You could see that from the Sartid game at home. It's hard to point the finger at Burley but there was a lack of motivation in his last few games.

"I'd like to see Peter Reid at the club or David O'Leary, but their probably too expensive. I don't want Bruce Rioch as he's ex-Norwich manager.

"Brian Talbot would be good or maybe Terry Butcher – he would bring the local factor back which is needed."

Mark Krysinski, 37, from Colchester said:

"Motivation has looked poor and players don't seem to be fired up. Saturday's game was better, especially in the first half.

"Matt Holland has played well this season and youngsters like Ambrose and Darren Bent have done well. Those who have under-performed would be Jim Magilton and Finidi George, who is only here for the money. Jermaine Wright hasn't been very good either.

"I'd like to see Brian Talbot take over but definitely not Bruce Rioch or Brian Hamilton."

Paul Waring, 36, from Colchester said:

"We need a big name at the club, someone who can shake things up. Peter Reid would be good as he has a good profile. Failing that I wouldn't mind Ronnie Moore.

DAVID SHEEPSHANKS – THE MAN WEIGHED DOWN BY EXPECTATION

Relaxed, good-humoured and cool – not the most obvious words to describe the David Sheepshanks of October 2002.

But last night, Sheepshanks, dressed in suit and red tie, seemed at ease, open and honest with fans, despite the enormous pressure he must feel right now.

He spoke frankly about the vacant manager's job and proudly told fans the job was one of great appeal to many managers in football today.

TONY MOWBRAY – THE MAN IN THE DRIVING SEAT

He appeared like a rabbit caught in the headlights as he arrived last night – hands in pockets, shoulders shrugged and an apparently dour demeanour.

He looked surprised to be in the spotlight, but gradually became less sullen and gave some good authoritative answers to some good questions.

He gave a good account of himself and talks a good game – if he could just carry across a little more spark and dynamism, the fans would surely put him in their driving seat.

VERDICT

This was a slick performance from everyone connected to the club. It wasn't so much a case of the club putting on a brave face, but the club standing up bolt upright and defying anyone to tell them otherwise.

It was also a very clever way of appeasing fans. They had Mowbray and Sheepshanks to themselves just when they wanted them. They had the supposed chance to ask anything but the questions were carefully asked for them.

They only wanted to know the answer to one question but they didn't get it

But they still left happy on the night placation replaced passion as Town's managerial search lingers on.

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