June 21, 2024

Mick Mills discusses Ipswich Town’s Championship return and how they can compete for promotion.

Former Ipswich Town captain Mick Mills believes that the Tractor Boys have what it takes to challenge at the top end of the Sky Bet Championship, as they embark on their first season at the level since 2019.

Speaking to BBC Radio Suffolk, Mills believes that Kieran McKenna’s side could be ‘serious contenders’ for a promotion challenge if they are to make a handful of additions to the side which gained automatic promotion out of League One last month.

Where do Ipswich need to strengthen?

The club’s record appearance maker still thinks there are improvements to be made, and that any players coming to the Tractor Boys must be of a higher standard to those already at the club. The former centre-back believes that is the area which Ipswich need to improve on in the transfer window for the purpose of squad depth

“If we can improve it by about 20%, that’ll be enough to make us serious contenders,” Mills told the BBC.

“We’ve got to go out and bring in good players, possibly five or six, of a certain standard, who might ultimately be our best players. We mustn’t try to put people underneath what we’ve got, we’ve got to put people over and above what we’ve got.”

Mills, who was a part of Ipswich’s FA Cup and UEFA Cup winning sides of the late 1970s, early 1980s also spoke about how the stature of the football club can play a massive part, as they prepare to mix it with the likes of recently relegated Leicester City and Leeds United.

He continued: “I listened to the radio the other day, and they were talking about how competitive the Championship will be next year, they named a lot of big clubs and forgot to even mention Ipswich. But there’s no way you can leave Ipswich out of that scenario.”

Can Ipswich Town mount a play-off push next season?

As Sunderland have proved this season with a very young squad, it isn’t beyond the realm of possibility for a newly-promoted side to continue their momentum into the following season and make a charge for the top six. Ipswich also amassed 101 goals last season, whilst only losing four times, highlighting the capability of this squad in all areas. There are a number of players in this Ipswich side who have previous Championship experience, which will stand them in good stead ahead of the new season.

However, with the Championship as strong as it looks to be next season, many outsiders would see a promotion push as a potential step too far, and an established first season back at this level would also be regarded as a success for McKenna’s team.

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Magilton Appointed Cliftonville Boss

Former Town boss Jim Magilton has been appointed the first ever full-time manager of NIFL Premiership side Cliftonville.

Belfast-born Magilton, 54, was in charge at Portman Road between 2006 and 2009 following eight years as a player with the Blues during which time he was a key man in the side which won promotion to the Premier League in 2000 and finished fifth in the top flight the following season.

The former midfielder, who was inducted into the Town Hall of Fame in March along with Marcus Stewart (above), left his last role, as sporting director at League of Ireland Dundalk, in November 2021.

Prior to that job, he spent seven years working at the Irish FA after spells managing QPR and Melbourne Victory and a stint as assistant at Shamrock Rovers.

“It’s an honour to be appointed manager of a great club with such proud traditions,” Magilton told his hometown side’s official website.

“I’m very excited about the job and really looking forward to working with such a talented squad of players.

“A new manager coming in will always cast a fresh pair of eyes over things, but [former manager] Paddy McLaughlin did a wonderful job at Cliftonville and I want to build on the successes that he had.

“I’ve been very busy already and there are conversations to be had with players at the club, plus some we will be looking to bring in.

“There’s a very tight turnaround between now and the start of the new season but I’m experienced enough to deal with that and the work has already started to make sure we’re in the best possible shape.

“It’s such a competitive league and I want our fans to enjoy the brand of football that we will play. I want them to be proud of their team and I want them to play a role in helping us be successful.

“I may be new to the place but one thing I do know about the club is that a united Cliftonville is a strong Cliftonville, so having the manager, players, fans and everyone else behind the scenes all united and all pulling in the same direction from top to bottom can make us a real force in this league.”

Chairman Paul McKeown added: “We are delighted to have secured the services of Jim Magilton and I look forward to working with him. Jim and the coaching staff will get to work immediately to look to strengthen the squad.

“Having played in the English Premier League, made more than 50 international appearances for Northern Ireland and managed Ipswich Town, QPR and others, it’s clear that Jim fits the bill of what we were looking for in terms of a candidate with a background in the full-time game at the highest level.

“He was the club’s top target for the position and we’re very pleased to have made this appointment.

“As everyone involved in football knows, the close season passes in the blink of an eye and Jim is already working hard in the countdown to the new campaign, which will be here before we know it.

“While last season tailed off disappointingly, I believe we have the right team in place to take the club forward and give our fans the success that we all crave.”

Elsewhere, former Town midfielder Ed Upson, who as a schoolboy scored the winning goal as the Blues’ U18s won the 2005 FA Youth Cup, has left Stowmarket and joined Leiston.

Defender Chris Casement, another member of that Town academy side, recently left his position as manager of Stowmarket and has also signed for Leiston.

Former Blues full-back Tommy Smith has joined Needham Market, also after leaving Stowmarket having been released by Town last summer.

One-time Blues loan keeper David Stockdale has rejoined his first club, York City, as goalkeeper and head of recruitment after leaving Sheffield Wednesday.

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