Aidy sets the benchmark for Roy

Roy Keane and Aidy Boothroyd have experienced very different starts to their respective managerial careers at Ipswich and Colchester.

Carl Marston

Roy Keane and Aidy Boothroyd have experienced very different starts to their respective managerial careers at Ipswich and Colchester. Football correspondent Carl Marston delves through the history books of both clubs to see how they rank alongside previous managers

ONE can do no wrong; the other can do no right.

At Colchester United, new boss Aidy Boothroyd is regarded as the best thing since sliced bread; but 18 miles down the A12, Ipswich Town supremo Roy Keane cannot buy a win.

The contrast couldn't be more acute.

Keane, thanks to back-to-back wins at the end of last season, is not lumbered with the tag of presiding over the poorest start to a managerial rein at Portman Road. But he's not far off it!

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The Irishman's 13 league games to date, including the winless sequence of 11 this season, have featured two victories and five draws. That amounts to 11 points, though of course alas just five this term!

Taking 13 games as the benchmark, two former Town managers actually fared worse during the opening months of their stewardship - Jackie Milburn and George Burley.

It's probably a little unfair to highlight Burley, not least because he did win three of his first 13 games in charge, and his side were also struggling at the foot of the Premier League, not the second tier, when he succeeded John Lyall after Christmas in 1994.

Town's defeats were at hands of teams like Arsenal, Everton, Tottenham and famously Manchester United (9-0), rather than Coventry or Barnsley.

But, looking at it purely as a statistical exercise, Burley's boys mustered just 10 points from a possible 39, as opposed to Keane's 11.

Milburn, like Keane, was also appointed towards the back end of a season, in the Spring of 1963. The former Newcastle United star only lost one of his first four games at the end of the 1962-63 campaign, but having clinched an opening day 3-1 win over Burnley, he actually failed to win another game until just five days before Christmas!

Keane will surely not have so long to turn the tide.

While it's all doom and gloom at Portman Road, the corridors of the Weston Homes Community Stadium are buzzing with excitement and expectation.

Boothroyd, appointed to the U's hot seat in early September, following the shock of departure of previous manager Paul Lambert to Norwich City, has quickly confirmed the U's promotion credentials.

Seven games into his regime and the U's have powered up to third in the League One table, just three points behind leaders Leeds and one point adrift of second-placed Charlton.

Four wins and three draws is a wonderful record, not least because four of these seven games have been away from home.

So how does Boothroyd compare to the managers who used to grace the Layer Road hot seat?

Only one man can equal his early record, and it's a surprising one - former Ipswich Town defender Allan Hunter!

Hunter was only in charge of the U's for seven months - the Irishman never really took to football management - but that didn't stop his team recording fours wins and three draws at the start of the 1982-83 season. This sequence included two 4-1 wins over Rochdale and Blackpool.

However, the U's were a Fourth Division club in those days. And furthermore, United did not win any of their next five league games.

The only U's manager who can actually boast a better record, from his first seven games, is another unlikely name - Roger Brown, a former manager at Poole Town and a coach at Bournemouth.

The little-known Brown, brought in as a successor to Mike Walker in November, 1987, inherited a team who were flying high on top of Division Four. Walker's mysterious departure, after a fall-out with chairman Jonathan Crisp, did not initially have a big impact on the team.

Although they lost 1-0 at home to eventual champions Wolves, in Brown's second game in charge, the U's won five and drew the other one of those first seven games.

That amounted to a haul of 16 points from a possible 21, as opposed to Boothroyd and Hunter's record of 15.

However, the wheels then flew off the bandwagon in dramatic fashion. The U's failed to win any of their next eight games, and were transformed from red-hot promotion candidates to mid-table nobodies. Brown only lasted 10 games into the following season. A humiliating club record 8-0 defeat at Leyton Orient prompted his resignation.

The aforementioned Walker actually had a marvellous start to his managerial career - with five wins and three draws at the conclusion of the 1985-86 season.

But he was only caretaker manager at the time, and when he was handed the reigns on a permanent basis in the summer, he lost three of his first seven games.

In conclusion, then, considering that both Brown and Hunter were operating in the fourth tier of the Football League, I think Boothroyd deserves the accolade of enjoying the most successful start to a managerial career at Colchester.

And thanks to Milburn - we will excuse Burley because of his Premier League beginnings - Keane has been saved the fate of enduring the most unsuccessful start to an Ipswich manager's career.