Kev: Joe is the best

HE has played for ex-England managers in Glenn Hoddle and Kevin Keegan.But ask Kevin Horlock to nominate the manager who has had the biggest impact on his career and he'll tell you: “It has to be Joe Royle.

HE has played for ex-England managers in Glenn Hoddle and Kevin Keegan.

But ask Kevin Horlock to nominate the manager who has had the biggest impact on his career and he'll tell you: “It has to be Joe Royle.”

Little wonder, then, that the experienced midfielder describes his transfer to Ipswich from West Ham on the eve of the season as a dream move.

Horlock said: “I was with Joe at Manchester City for more than three years and they were good times as we made it from the Second Division into the Premiership.

“The fact that Joe was the manager of Ipswich had a lot to do with my decision to come here - and hopefully we'll end up in the Premiership all over again!”

Horlock has been in fine form, displaying a high level of consistency, since arriving at Portman Road on a free transfer in July.

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His engine-room displays have helped fire Town into the promotion picture, but in assessing the season so far he urged a note of caution.

London-born Horlock, who will be 32 next month, said: “It is important that we recognise the fact that there is still plenty of room for improvement.

“As soon as any team thinks it's the finished article, that is when they are going to be heading for a spectacular fall.

“We're not there yet and we must recognise it. We may be going into games with plenty of confidence in our ability, but that doesn't mean we are as good as we can be.

“The thing that should drive us on is that we could be top of this division. There's still a long way to go and we should believe we can win it.”

Horlock is not short of support at Town home fixtures. Apart from a growing number of admirers among the rank and file, he has his own personal fan club cheering him on.

His wife attends all the Portman Road games accompanied by the couple's four daughters - Shannon, ten, eight-year-old Kelsey, Leah who is three and little Lainey, still only one.

“They are all kitted out in their Ipswich shirts,” grins a player who has taken to living in Suffolk like a duck to water.

Being fully content off the field is the perfect platform for Horlock to perform with distinction on it, even if there are still one or two factors that continue to bug him.

He added: “I am surrounded by good lads and good quality players. We are not carrying passengers and we can achieve the sort of consistency that should see us up.

“It's all about the team. If I score a goal and we lose, the goal means nothing to me. But I must admit I'd like to get one now and again to help us on our way.

“The role I'm playing now doesn't give me as much opportunity as I had earlier in my career, when I was either operating in a central midfield role or out on the left.

“But I hit the bar from a free-kick against Burnley, so maybe that first Ipswich goal is on its way. But it would only matter if the goal helped us to win the game.”

For the record, Horlock last scored on November 29, 2003, when his fourth minute goal put West Ham on their way to a 4-0 home win over Wigan.

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