Roy Keane revealed his aim to take Ipswich back into the Premier League in one season as he declared: “It’s good to be back.”
The former Manchester United captain, who has been out of work since leaving Sunderland in December, was confirmed as the new manager of the Tractor Boys this morning after signing a two-year deal.
Ipswich were last in the top flight in 2002 and previous manager Jim Magilton paid the price for not reaching the Coca-Cola Championship play-offs when he was sacked yesterday.
Keane, who revealed he had received other offers, said: “It’s a massive challenge trying to get the club back in the Premier League.
“I’m excited and looking forward to it. I’ve had a good break. It’s good to be back.
“Three or four weeks ago I thought, if the opportunity came up, I was ready for it. I’ve signed a two-year contract but I’d like to try and do it (get promotion) in one year.
“If I wasn’t up for challenges I’d be out walking my dogs today. I think my dogs need a break.”
Keane insisted he would need time to take stock before beginning the process of shaping the team.
“Nothing will be happening over the next week or two, we’ve got to take stock and take it from there,” he said.
He hinted at the possibility of major changes by adding: “There are a lot of players on long-term injuries and players whose contracts are up, so that might suit me.
“But it would be unfair to say to players whose contracts are up ’You’ve got two games to prove yourself’.”
Keane was asked how his first meeting with the players at training had gone, and was his usual no-nonsense self in his response.
“I had a chat with the players this morning, I put demands on the players and they look up for it,” he said.
“All I’ve asked of any player as a manager is that they give 100%, and that’s all I’m asking of the Ipswich players. If they’re okay with that they will enjoy working with me, if not it will be a very brief relationship.”
Keane admitted the two-year contract could increase the pressure to turn things around quickly at Portman Road but added: “I’m very comfortable with the two years, if that means I’m putting myself under pressure – so what?
“It’s all about the challenge, when I took over at Sunderland I knew that was a big club and I could turn it around and it’s the same here.”
Keane hopes some of the qualities he galvanised in his players while at Sunderland will again be in evidence at Portman Road.
“We had a very good spirit and never-say-die attitude,” he said of his time at the Stadium of Light.
“We scored a lot of late goals and had great desire.
“I always felt we would go to the end and I want that from Ipswich players. That’s up to me to get into the players.
“I’m convinced the players will enjoy working with me.”
He added the vision for the future laid out by the Ipswich board had played a major part in his decision to join the club.
He said: “I enjoy working with ambitious people. There’s enough people out there with no ambitions who are happy to go through the motions in life.
“It’s going to be very difficult, looking at the teams that will come down [from the Premier League].
“It’s a massive challenge, but hopefully we will be in the mix. At the moment we are 26 points behind Wolves, so that’s a big, big gap to make up.”
Asked why he had decided to take the job, Keane added: “My gut feeling, the ambition of the club, the history of the club.
“It’s a proper football club. I think I’ve been very lucky with the clubs I’ve been involved with and I’m very lucky to get this job.”
Chief executive Simon Clegg, who himself was only appointed this week, is confident Town have the right man to achieve their ambitions.
He said: “It’s an exciting and dynamic new era. It further demonstrates the aspirations and ambitions of this club and its owner, Marcus Evans.
“I’m convinced, with Roy Keane as manager, we can build on the club’s rich heritage and he will lead us back to Premier League football.”