Royle: It's been a roller-coaster ride

IPSWICH boss Joe Royle today looked ahead to his 100th game in charge and reflected: “It's been a roller-coaster time.”Royle will celebrate the milestone on Saturday at Upton Park, where his team's promotion dream was shattered at the end of last season.

IPSWICH boss Joe Royle today looked ahead to his 100th game in charge and reflected: “It's been a roller-coaster time.”

Royle will celebrate the milestone on Saturday at Upton Park, where his team's promotion dream was shattered at the end of last season.

Defeat by West Ham in the second leg of a play-off semi-final put paid to Ipswich's hopes of regaining their Premiership status.

And they will take on the Hammers on Saturday anxious to recover from another hefty blow, losing top slot in the Coca-Cola Championship by virtue of last night's 3-2 defeat at new leaders Stoke.


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Royle said: “The job has changed since my appointment - it's not the one I originally came here to do - but I am nevertheless enjoying it and I love it here in Suffolk.

“When I took the job I was looking forward to working with players like Matt Holland, Hermann Hreidarsson, Jamie Clapham and others.

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“My hope was that with a bit of fine turning we would be returning to the Premier League.

“I knew that one player would have to be sold, but in fact we have had a complete turnover in staff because of our financial circumstances and going into administration.

“Now, though, our wage bill is virtually a quarter of what it was and we are on our way back.”

Royle was critical of his team's defending at the Britannia Stadium, where they were twice in front before eventually crashing to an 85th minute clincher by ex-Norwich striker Ade Akinbiyi.

He will be demanding a big improvement for the clash with a West Ham side also on 16 points from eight games, but trailing third-placed Town on goal difference.

The Town boss added: “We are averaging two points per game and that's promotion form, as annoying and frustrating as last night's defeat undoubtedly was.

“West Ham have taken a bit of time to get going but with their financial clout they were always going to be there or thereabouts.

“They brought in four players last week and that's a luxury that isn't available to us. We are trying to do things differently, with our own players.

“When I look back at last season we did extremely well to make the play-offs after a poor start and we were still getting over administration. All things considered it was a very good season and we are looking to go one better this time.”

Royle's reign started in October 2002, and his first game in charge saw Town defeat Slovan Liberec 1-0 in the first leg of a UEFA Cup second round tie three days later.

Town went out on penalties in the Czech Republic, but Royle managed to ignite a promotion challenge that only fizzled out towards the end of a campaign in which they eventually finished seventh.

Then last season, despite further upheaval in the shape of players moving on, Royle and his men secured a play-off place.

Looking back over his time in charge, he has had to work in the most trying circumstances, Ipswich's lack of cash meaning he has yet to pay a fee for any of the players he has brought to Portman Road.

Royle could have had no idea when he was appointed to succeed the axed George Burley that just over three months later the club would have to go into administration.

Town are still battling to recover from that traumatic period, keeping a careful eye on finances while at the same time bidding to mount a promotion challenge on a shoestring budget.

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