Hamilton: Town will go up and stay there

BRYAN Hamilton is convinced that Ipswich Town will reach the Premiership next May - and that they will not repeat the mistakes they made last time.The former Blues coach, who did his best to stave off relegation from the top flight in the 2001/02 campaign, said the club learned a lot during those difficult times.

BRYAN Hamilton is convinced that Ipswich Town will reach the Premiership next May - and that they will not repeat the mistakes they made last time.

The former Blues coach, who did his best to stave off relegation from the top flight in the 2001/02 campaign, said the club learned a lot during those difficult times.

“Knowing people at the club as I do - from the top down - Ipswich have learned a great deal from their experiences over the last three seasons,” said Hamilton, who lives in a village just outside Ipswich and now works as a radio and TV pundit.

“The club is in very good hands and they will not make the same mistakes again.”

Hamilton watched the 1-0 victory over Stoke City at Portman Road on Tuesday that strengthened Town's position at the top of the Coca-Cola Championship.

He was impressed and has great faith in manager Joe Royle.

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Hamilton said: “Joe is the shrewdest fox when it comes to transfer deals and has a squad that is equipped to win promotion.

“And when they go up, Joe will know the right players to bring and make the squad good enough to stay in the Premiership.

“I said before the season began that Ipswich would finish in the top six. Now I would be disappointed if they failed to end up in the top two.

“These are exciting times for Ipswich Town supporters. Against Stoke the team may have only won by one goal, but their passing, movement and desire to win the second ball put them way ahead of the opposition.

“They lost their way a bit in the second period, but Stoke deserve credit for fighting back.

“It was a first rate professional performance by Ipswich, and collecting points over the Christmas period is crucial. Joe Royle is doing a magnificent job.”

Hamilton was recruited by Royle's predecessor George Burley to assist with coaching duties after a poor start to the 2001/02 season.

Ipswich had taken the Premiership by storm the previous campaign when they finished fifth, and the former Ipswich and Northern Ireland international player made an impact soon after his arrival.

From December 22, 2001 to February 2, 2002 Town won seven out of eight matches as they moved up from bottom place to begin talk of qualification for the UEFA Cup.

The run ended with a 6-0 home defeat by Liverpool on February 9, and after that Ipswich only won one more league match - against Middlesbrough on April 24.

“Things looked up for a while,” said Hamilton. “But I was working at Ipswich in some disappointing times.”

He is still looking to get back into coaching, but said: “After working for Ipswich it will take something special to tempt me.

“It is a fantastic club, with a wonderful stadium and excellent training facilities.”

Ipswich Town's run soon after Bryan Hamilton joined the coaching staff

Dec 22 Tottenham 1 Ipswich 2

Dec 26 Ipswich 2 Leicester 0

Dec 29 Ipswich 5 Sunderland 0

Jan 1 Charlton 3 Ipswich 2

Jan 12 Ipswich 2 Tottenham 1

Jan 19 Derby 1 Ipswich 3

Jan 30 Ipswich 1 Fulham 0

Feb 2 Everton 1 Ipswich 2

They then gained only one more win - on April 24 at home to Middlesbrough - and were relegated before going into administration.