The possible candidates as Ipswich Town search for new boss
- Credit: PA
Ipswich Town are searching for a new manager following the sacking of Paul Cook. Andy Warren looks at the potential candidates for the vacancy.
League One bosses
Lincoln boss Appleton and Town CEO Mark Ashton have worked together before, back when the duo were at Oxford United in 2014. One of the first things Ashton did at the Kassam Stadium was appoint the current Imps manager.
There would have been a pre-existing relationship from West Brom, too, where Appleton was a player-turned coach and Ashton was working his way through the executive ranks. Town chairman Mike O’Leary was also chief executive at the Hawthorns.
Appleton was appointed by Lincoln in September 2019, leading the Sincil Bank club to a 16th-place finish in League One in his first season before then reaching last season’s play-offs. They lost the final to Blackpool and are now 18th.
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The former Ipswich Town academy player and coach may have only managed 24 matches in English football, but he’s made a big impression.
His MK Dons side, where he’s assisted by both Chris Hogg and David Wright, are currently sixth in the third-tier and have played some excellent football along the way.
He’s a highly qualified coach, having been part of the Manchester City system at the City Group clubs in New York and Lommel in Belgium, while he has also headed up West Ham’s Under 23s in the past.
Whether he’s ready to leave stadium:mk so soon after joining would remain to be seen, should Ipswich show interest.
The former striker is a man understood to have been considered by former owner Marcus Evans when appointing Cook in the wake of Paul Lambert’s sacking at the beginning of this year. His stock has only risen since.
His Plymouth side have topped League One for long spells of this season, playing some excellent football during a run which saw them beat Ipswich at Home Park at the end of October. They’ve slipped a little in recent weeks, but Lowe is a manager other clubs will be looking at.
One of Ipswich Town CEO Ashton’s first acts in the same role at Bristol City was to appoint Lee Johnson as head coach.
He remained in the job for a little over four years, with the pair working side-by-side as the Ashton Gate club pushed towards the top six, finishing in increasingly improved positions before a backward step saw Johnson fired in June 2020. The decision clearly came with a heavy heart from Ashton’s point-of-view.
The two remain close, greeting each other with a warm embrace when Johnson watched Town’s FA Cup replay win at Oldham recently, before saying he ‘sees the Ipswich CEO as a friend’ in the wake of his Sunderland side beating the Blues last month.
Yes, he’s employed at a big League One rival, but it’s not one to be completely ruled out. He was born in Suffolk, too, spending his early years in Newmarket.
Robinson seems to have been around for years but is still only 41.
That’s because, at 29, he was given the MK Dons job and took them up to the Championship in 2015, playing some excellent football along the way. They were a little toothless in the second-tier, though, and came back down at the first time of asking.
He’s turned down Leeds in the past and has managed Charlton and Oxford since, maintaining a reputation for playing expansive football. He’s taken Oxford to the League One play-offs in the last two seasons.
The former favourites
Whenever there is a vacancy at Ipswich Town, Tony Mowbray will always be discussed as an option.
That’s because he’s held in such high regard at Portman Road.
He’s currently at Blackburn in the Championship, of course, and is settled in the north of England as he commutes from Teesside to the Ewood Park club.
Ipswich holds a special place in his heart and there must surely be a part of him that fancies a stab at the top job.
It does feel like the stars may never align, though.
A leftfield choice in many ways, the Dutchman is impressing in the youth ranks with the KNVB (Dutch FA), taking charge of a number of age group teams.
He’s a highly qualified coach who likes to play exciting football. A lack of any real club experience would be a real issue, though.
Tried and tested
One last hurrah for the wily old veteran? He’s available now after his sacking from Middlesbrough earlier this season and has previously shown an interest in the Ipswich job.
He’s won eight promotions in his long career to date and would surely fancy a crack at another should the call come.
Another Ashton link.
The Town CEO helped appoint Boothroyd, then an unknown 34, at Watford in March 2005 and they had great success as they quickly won promotion to the Premier League. Both left the club in 2008.
More recently he’s lead England Under 21s for five years before leaving that job in April to ‘focus on a return to club football’.
The former Millwall and Cardiff is understood to have been interested in the role when Lambert was sacked last February, with the job of course eventually going to Cook.
He took Millwall up to the Championship in 2016-17 and stabilised them in the second tier. He then took Cardiff to the Championship play-offs in his first year there before being sacked.
Has been out of work since.
Another tried and tested boss currently out of work, following his sacking from Nottingham Forest earlier this season.
Hughton has two promotions to the Premier League on his CV, with Newcastle and Brighton, while also taking Birmingham to the play-offs earlier in his career. He’s also managed Norwich, of course.
The 62-year-old has a reputation for putting organised teams on the field but it just didn’t work at the City Ground, with Hughton sacked having taken just one point from the opening seven games of the campaign.
The Welshman’s stock was at its highest in the summer of 2016, when he took his country to the last four of the European Championships in France.
It’s been a bit of a rough ride since, though, with a difficult time at Sunderland followed by a stint in China which didn’t go to plan.
He’s not worked since but is known to be keen on a comeback.
Having coached some of the biggest names in world football, during his time working under Carlo Ancelotti at PSG, Real Madrid and then Bayern Munich, Clement went out on his own in management in 2015.
It’s not always been a great success, though, with his spells at Derby, Swansea and Reading ultimately ending in disappointment and a sacking.
He was most recently at Cercle Brugge in Belgium, but was fired earlier this year.
His coaching CV does catch the eye, though.
The former Colchester boss only returned to the club at the end of last week, with the Blues announced he will be working with the top end of the academy.
He appears to be well-placed to potentially be involved in a caretaker capacity. If he is, then he may just have a chance to impress.
Another serious option for the caretaker role has to be Kieron Dyer, a highly-qualified coach with a growing reputation in the game who has made no secret of his desire to manage his hometown club one day.
Like McGreal, if he gets the caretaker role then there is a serious chance to impress.
The big names
The former England international is out of work after his sacking by Chelsea last season and recently walked away from talks to become the next Norwich manager.
He did the same when talking to Marcus Evans about the Ipswich job, in the Championship in 2018, which surely makes it unlikely the former England international would consider it now.
The Blues are under different, ambitious ownership now, though. So it’s not impossible they may have lofty targets.
Terry and Lampard have very similar CVs from their playing days, but the defender has taken a different route towards management.
Former England skipper Terry finished his playing days at Aston Villa, before moving into coaching at the club and assisting Dean Smith until recently. He left to pursue his own career as a No.1, citing current Norwich boss Smith as a huge influence on his coaching career.
The former midfielder spent 15 years as a player and then a coach at Manchester United, stepping in in the last few weeks after Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s sacking.
He’s taking some time with his family, so a move to a job in League One seems unlikely at this point.