Jim always wanted to give it a go

NOTHING was going to prevent Jim Magilton becoming a football manager.He knows all about the precarious nature of the job and some incumbents' inability to switch off, even to the detriment of their health, but the former Northern Ireland captain always intended to give it a go.

By Mel Henderson

NOTHING was going to prevent Jim Magilton becoming a football manager.

He knows all about the precarious nature of the job and some incumbents' inability to switch off, even to the detriment of their health, but the former Northern Ireland captain always intended to give it a go.

He was so determined, in fact, that when the Ipswich vacancy arose he was quick to declare his interest and refused to allow his lack of experience to count against him.


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Magilton quickly won over any doubters on the Portman Road board and as other candidates fell by the wayside, the directors realised that in the former skipper they had the best man for the job.

Almost five months into the role, he reflects: “I still love every minute of it, although I've been up and down according to results as you would expect.

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“This is what I want to do. I enjoy the responsibility in terms of the team and the players as individuals, but it goes way beyond that when you think how results affect everyone at the club and the fans too.

“Some players finish and walk away from the game altogether, but there was no way I could have done that.

“For me, this is the next best thing to playing.

“I told myself from a very early age that this is what I would do. Mind you, I didn't think I would stop playing one day and then become a manager the next, which is virtually how it was for me.

“That was just circumstances. With Joe (Royle) leaving there was a vacancy and I decided to go for it. Had Joe not left I'd have been waiting for the phone to ring with a job offer and who knows where I might have ended up?”

Magilton claims to find it easy to switch off, which he attributes to having two young sons, Adam and Ryan, who make their own demands of dad's spare time.

But he laughs: “When the boys are tucked up in bed I invariably find myself thinking football. I'll be tossing things around in my mind - the next game, how we will play, who we will play etc.

“I suppose the hardest part of the job is leaving players out who clearly want to be in the side. I try to be up front with them.

“That's how I wanted to be treated as a player. I didn't have a problem with managers who told me straight that I wasn't playing and why.”

Magilton has had to adjust quickly to management. Not for him the opportunity to serve a lengthy apprenticeship, as first team coach or assistant boss, before being thrust into the hot seat.

He adds: “It's a steep learning curve for me but one thing never changes when you are a football manager - the fact that results will determine how successful you are going to be and how long you will stay in the job.

“The one thing I feel I have going for me is that I am the manager of such a decent club as Ipswich.

“I have been given a chance that I mean to make the most of and while results will ultimately decide my fate I also know I will get a fair crack at it here.

“When I applied for the job and then was invited to attend an interview I told the board I didn't want to have one or two seasons at it.

“I told them straight, that I wanted a job for life, and I still feel like that. I'm in for the long haul, as long as I can produce the results that warrant me staying.

“If I don't deliver and it doesn't work out for me here I will walk away very, very disappointed, but at least I will know I have given it everything.”

Magilton still considers himself a rookie boss and, as such, admits he is still wrestling with time management matters.

He says: “I used to look at George (Burley) and Joe, and it struck me how they seemed to be able to cruise through each day.

“Particularly in Joe's case, he had it sussed out. That was clearly down to his years of experience in the job. But he was a young manager once and I imagine it was the same for him.

“It's the sort of job you grow into, I suppose. You learn to delegate some things because you can't do everything yourself, so you need good people around you.

“And I'm the first to admit that you need a good PA to keep you organised. I'd be lost without her.”

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