Clegg: Keane has our backing

THE past has been bleak, but the future looks bright.

Carl Marston

THE past has been bleak, but the future looks bright.

That was the general impression conveyed by Ipswich Town's Chief Executive, Simon Clegg, just a day after Town's heart-breaking 3-3 draw at Sheffield United, when a first victory of the season was scuppered by a stoppage time equaliser.

Clegg has given his full backing, together with that of owner and chairman Marcus Evans, to manager Roy Keane despite the club's slump to the foot of the Championship table.

And Clegg insisted the following:

1 Keane will be given the time to turn around the club's fortunes

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2 There has been no talk of sacking the manager

3 There is no added pressure on Keane

4 More new players will be available, if the price is right

5 Owner Marcus Evans is in it for the long haul

Clegg met with the press yesterday, to clear the air and insist that the club are not going to shy away from the stark reality of their dismal start to the season.

No wins in 10 league games has left Town looking up at every other club in the division. They have mustered just five points from a possible 30, and have leaked 22 goals into the bargain.

That all-important first win looked on the cards at Bramall Lane on Tuesday night, when goals from Jon Walters, Grant Leadbitter and Gareth McAuley put the visitors 3-1 up with just 20 minutes remaining.

But Sheffield United netted two late goals, the last of them from skipper Chris Morgan right at the death.

To compound Town's misery, previous bottom club Plymouth recorded a 2-1 win at Peterborough to leapfrog Keane's men in the table.

Clegg, who was officially unveiled as Town's new Chief Executive in April, after a 12-year reign as Chief Executive of the British Olympic Association, recognises that Town's long-suffering supporters deserve better.

But he also insisted that Keane is the right man to guide the club out of danger, and in the long-term bring Premier League football back to Portman Road.

Below, Clegg gives his verdict on the following:

ROY KEANE'S POSITION

“It's not the start that we had wanted, but there is no change in the situation with regards Roy (Keane). Our fans deserve better and want better, but there is no pressure, no additional pressure on Roy.

“Roy and I continue to work very closely together. It's a three-way relationship, between Roy, Marcus Evans (owner and chairman) and myself, and this three-way relationship is as strong today as it was during the close-season.

“Roy is the sort of man who puts pressure on himself, because he knows what he wants to achieve.

“And I'm sure that the tide will turn within the next couple of games.”

ROY KEANE'S FEAR OF BEING SACKED

“I was surprised to see that. We've had no discussion on these lines.

“As always with the manager, the buck rests with Roy in terms of results. The current position is not sustainable forever and a day.

“But there are no time constraints. There is no time pressure.

“Roy and I have regular conversations. And there are no closed doors. We speak on a daily basis and we meet regularly for a coffee. There are no sacred cows or taboo subjects.

“We're looking forwards, not back. We don't sit together analysing games that have gone.

“It's a matter of fine-tuning things.”

KEANE'S AMBITION TO WIN PROMOTION WITHIN TWO YEARS

“There's been no change with that. Roy is a man who is focussed, and very determined.

“He is passionate about winning, and he has set himself a high hurdle. But at the moment it is about putting the building blocks in place

“Roy tells it as it is, which I find quite refreshing. He's very honest and a very open person.”

TOWN'S POOR START

“None of us are going to shy away from us having a disappointing start, but I think you can take a lot of positives out of our last two away games.

“We've scored six goals in those two games, and although that needs to be readdressed in the context of conceding 10 goals (in the last three matches), I still saw massive positives to come from Tuesday night.

“It was just so disappointing that we couldn't win the game after being 3-1 up.

“We're bottom of the league, but the only way from here is up. I travelled back on the team coach (from Sheffield) with Roy and the players. There was a very sombre mood on the coach, but the players will pick themselves up.”

MORE MONEY AVAILABLE FOR NEW PLAYERS

“The manager continues to enjoy the full support of Marcus Evans and myself.

“If he identifies the right player, and the price range is acceptable to us, then we will bring him in.

“New players are jointly discussed by Roy, Marcus and myself, but in terms of the identification of new players, that sits with the manager. That's not my job or the job of Marcus.

“If it is the right player at the right price, who is going to fill a gap in the team, then we will be sympathetic. Marcus is in it for the long term.

“As my experiences have shown me, we are constantly in negotiations with players.

MARCUS EVANS, THE MAN

“Marcus does not wish to speak to the media. That (role) is not in his mindset, and so that's one of my jobs for him.

“He is a very private individual, and he does not want to forego his anonymity. That's the way he is.

“He does not feel the need to be egotistical, and he is not fuelled by wanting to see his name or his picture in the papers.

“I actually find that quite refreshing.

“He was the man who brought me in. I had met him before, when he chose to support the British Olympic team for Beijing (2008).

“And he has the same appetite for the task now that he had before.

“Marcus has every confidence in Roy to turn it around. That has not been dimmed or diluted in the slightest.

“He is looking to the long-term here. We know this start is not ideal, far from it, but we are taking the big picture. Things take time to settle.”

MARCUS EVANS' RESPECT FOR SIR BOBBY ROBSON

“He had a private meeting (at the Newcastle game) with Lady Elsie and two of Sir Bobby's sons who were there, Mark and Paul, and he personally handed over to her the seven volumes of books of remembrance with over 3,000 names, including his name.

“We opened those books of condolence on the sad day that was July 31 (the day Sir Bobby died), and the books were closed on Saturday.”

TOWN'S SUPPORTERS

“I'm not that surprised that some react in this way (booing Keane after the 4-0 home defeat by Newcastle), but I believe that it's only a vocal minority.

“I travelled up to Sheffield on the train, so I had the chance to speak to several fans at the railway stations, and they were all hugely supportive of Roy. They are all confident that Roy is going to turn it around.”

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