New Ipswich manager Roy Keane has targeted promotion to the Premier League “at the earliest opportunity” after taking over at Portman Road.
The former Manchester United and Republic of Ireland midfielder has signed a two-year contract with the Coca-Cola Championship side, who sacked former boss Jim Magilton yesterday.
The 37-year-old has been out of work since departing as Sunderland manager last December.
Keane told the club’s official website itfc.co.uk: “I truly believe that I am joining a club that has the potential, ambition and infrastructure to once again be a Premier League side.
“The club’s owner (Marcus Evans) and chief executive (Simon Clegg) impressed upon me their total focus on achieving this quest at the earliest opportunity and I can’t wait to get started.”
Magilton fell victim to the Portman Road regime’s top-flight aspirations yesterday when he was sacked as Ipswich manager after failing to lead them into the Championship play-offs.
That followed a £12m (€13.4m), Evans-funded spending spree on new players following the hospitality entrepreneur’s takeover late in 2007.
However, the new investment failed to produce a concerted push for promotion, as the Tractor Boys were consigned to mid-table and an eighth straight season in the second tier.
Evans said: “I am delighted that Roy has agreed to join us and we are completely aligned in our ambitions for Ipswich Town.
“He has extensive contacts in the game and is a proven winner who encourages his team to play the attractive football that Ipswich Town fans have come to expect.
“I believe he is the right man to take this club where we want to be – the Premier League.”
Keane arrives with a 100% record of Championship promotion.
In his first season as a manager in 2006-07, the ex-Republic of Ireland captain transformed Sunderland from early strugglers to champions as he took the Black Cats back into the Premier League.
Clegg, the former chief executive of the British Olympic Association, added: “The appointment of Roy Keane further demonstrates our commitment to help Ipswich Town Football Club achieve our aim of returning to the Premier League at the earliest possible opportunity.
“Roy has experienced promotion as Championship winners as a manager and, importantly, then kept his side in English football’s top flight, and I am looking forward to working with him.”
Clegg added on BBC Radio Four: “It is a massive coup for Ipswich Town and I think it demonstrates a sign of ambition and statement of the intent of the owner of this club, Marcus Evans.
“It will lead to what we believe and hope will be a new dawn in the era of this club.
“He has a fantastic track record in achieving just what we aspire to at this club, when he was at Sunderland, taking them from fourth from bottom in the Championship to being champions in the same season, taking them up into the Premiership then retaining their position in the Premiership the following season.”
Clegg insists Keane is not under pressure to gain immediate promotion next season.
“We’re not going to put any timescales on how or when we are going to reach our aspirations but the entire resources of this club will be focused on delivering that aim,” he said.
“I’m not going to go into details regarding the finances of this club and how much money is available but it goes without saying, having made the statement of intent that we have, that the owner will support both the manager and myself in terms of giving us the resources we need to achieve that goal.”
The Suffolk club have confirmed Keane will be unveiled at a press conference at Portman Road at 4pm today.
Former Ipswich midfielder Matt Holland, who played alongside Keane for the Republic, believes the new boss will command instant respect in the Portman Road dressing room.
“Everyone must have huge respect for him, for what he’s done as a player and manager,” Holland told BBC Radio Five Live.
“He’ll have that fear factor and sometimes I think you need that.”
Holland added: “Roy was probably desperate to get back into management and it’s a good club with huge ambition.”