Tractor Boy Backs Under Fire Jim
An Ipswich fan reveals that while Jim Magilton is under pressure to perform he would give him until the end of the season.
Blueblood, editor of Vital Ipswich, speaks to Vital QPR about all manner of things including the lack of noise at Portman Road, the reign of boss Jim Magilton and an impressive new signing.
You currently sit in 10th place, level pegging with QPR. How do you feel your season has gone so far?
Start of the season, I was confident that this was our season to get back to the top. We had quietly gone about spending our money, bought in eight players and got rid of a lot of underperforming players from the season before.
However, we lost our first game against Preston, at Portman Road where we were almost invincible last season - most fans were shell shocked, but there was still a long way to go. We then beat Burnley 3-0 away, which caused the optimism levels to rise once more because we had only won three away from home in 2007/08 and I saw first hand how our players made it look all too easy against the Clarets.
We have not got out of third gear in most of our games this season and we only won our first home game in two months last night against Forest after a number of draws. I think that last season`s record at home which was one of the best in Britain, let alone the Championship, has hindered us because we were never going to repeat it.
The play-offs look a little beyond us now on the basis of recent performances and results, even though we are only four points away from the top six. Like I say, we haven`t got out of third gear, and if we can raise it one or two gears, we should be comfortably in the play-offs because we have got this far by simply grinding out results.
Jim Magilton has come in for some criticism in recent months, and more recently from the local media, do you feel it is justified?
The man was a legend at the club, a fans favourite as a player, captain and in his early days as boss. He changed a lot of things when he first come to the club, and with little money. We finished 14th with a poor side in his first season, an improvement on Joe Royle`s 15th the season before. Things were looking up for 2007/08.
We signed three players on frees in the 2007 summer, and thrashed Sheffield Wednesday on the opening day 4-1. We sat in and around the play-offs for most of the season and narrowly missed out. We were taken over in that season, and although this probably saved the club from administration, the pressure was on Jim to spend the money wisely.
He has spent what little money we had on the likes of Jon Walters, from Chester who has had more clubs that Tiger Woods. He was described as a rough diamond at the time, the sort of player we could only afford. He is now one of the best players in the league and was linked with moves to the Premiership in the summer.
Post-takeover, Jim spent a lot of money on players that we probably don`t need. We have about eight centre-midfielders, until recently had no recognised left-midfielder and was generally playing with square pegs in round holes - this is probably down to Walters who come to the club as a striker, but has made the right-midfield spot his own.
Fans get frustrated that he doesn`t sign players that most of us think we need - a goalscorer to name one. Jim`s man-management is heavily criticised, and comes across as arrogant at times but he is still learning. Yes, the results and performances have been poor most of the time this season, but you don`t win anything overnight.
The local rag published an article calling for his head, but he doesn`t need it. He is trying to do a job and no protest, petition will force him out. That decision is solely down to owner Marcus Evans, and he is a shrewd businessman and knows what he is doing. I am behind Jim until the end of the season at least.
You made one addition during the January transfer window of Luciano Civelli from Banfield, how has he settled in?
Apparently, we had been tracking him since August and his club didn`t want to play him as to not jeopardise the deal. He played in a reserve game a week or so ago and many thought he looked overweight. However, he made his debut on Saturday against Blackpool and boy is he what we need - someone with natural width on the left. He has got a good touch and is a big bloke - definitely going to be an asset for us.
The fans love him already and I think he likes it here.
There were some surprise departures with Richard Naylor going to Leeds and two promising youngsters going out on loan - could the board or Jim be branded with a lack of ambition?
Naylor leaving after 15 years at Portman Road is sad, but he is no longer good enough for this league.
Liam Trotter went out on trial at Scunthorpe, something of a surprise since he was one of our better players at the start of the season, while Jordan Rhodes is firing in the goals for Brentford. I don`t know why he is out on loan, he is probably good enough to get us five or six goals between now and the end of the season.
Last season your home form was integral to your position, where as this season it has dipped dramatically, what do you think are the reasons for this?
The players, although some of them weren`t here last season, all know about the home form and I think that they are almost scared of playing at home, because they don`t want to ruin that form. It`s just a confidence thing.
The lack of atmosphere at Portman Road in recent times has prompted some fans to come together to form 'Section 6` how is that coming along?
Confidence comes with encouragement and PR has been quiet ever since the South and North stands were redeveloped. The North Stand Lower, which is were the hardcore fans are housed, is almost as if it has a lid on it and the noise is trapped in - people blame this, but if the prawn sandwich brigade joined in with the songs then Portman Road would be buzzing once again!
S6 was started by a member of Vital Ipswich, aimed at bringing more colour to the ground as well as noise. They all sit together in 'Section 6` of the North Stand and have been fairly noisy. Still, if people joined in with songs rather than sitting there to enjoy the atmosphere then we wouldn`t need this.
With the current squad where do you see yourself finishing come the end of the season?
Current squad are good enough to get into the top six, it`s whether or not that we can actually perform and win the games. I am still holding out a little bit of optimism, but think we will end the season in 8th again.
Who do you think Rangers fans should watch out for other than the aforementioned Civelli?
I don`t know what the team will be, that`s one criticism I have of Jim Magilton this season - not playing a consistent side. We have tried 4-5-1 from home and it doesn`t work. I`d like to see two strikers play, and Kevin Lisbie has been one of the top performers away from home this season.
Other than that, we have captain Gareth McAuley looking for his first goal for the club and Jon Walters who is looking to get back to his best.
I like Jon Stead. He just wants to be loved, and is full of ability and I think he has found his home at Portman Road. He is our top scorer and he wasn`t signed until the end of the summer transfer window.
Are there any players in turn that you fear in the Rangers squad going into Saturday`s clash?
Lee Cook is someone that I would have liked to have seen us sign, but he is QPR through and through.
How do you think the game will pan out, and what are your predictions?
It`s live on Sky and we have failed to perform on the cameras this season. I think that Rangers will win 2-1 unfortunately.
With thanks to Vital Ipswich.
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