ROY KEANE is set to make a sensational return to football management as the new manager of Ipswich Town.
Keane, who quit his post as Sunderland boss last December, recently indicated his intention to return to management in the near future, and it now appears the Tractor Boys, who axed Jim Magilton as manager yesterday, will choose the Cork man as his replacement.
Bookmakers last night suspended betting on the appointment of Keane while Ipswich admitted they were “close” to finding Magilton’s replacement. The appointment of Keane could even be confirmed as early as today or tomorrow.
Ipswich Town owner Marcus Evans sacked 39-year-old Magilton for failing to secure a place in the Championship play-offs this season. Bryan Klug, first team coach under Magilton is looking after first-team affairs temporarily.
In the long-term, however, Ipswich are seeking a big name appointment, and as soon as possible. Keane’s arrival would be seen as a great coup for the East Anglians and their millionaire owner Evans, who has indicated he is willing to invest huge funds to try to bring the club back into the Premier League.
Keane would appear to fit Ipswich’s needs perfectly. Ipswich chief executive Simon Clegg said: “We want a winner. Someone who is 100% professional and passionate who can take this club to where it aspires to be. We are close to making an appointment. We are looking for someone with a proven track record who can deliver what everyone connected with the club wants, promotion to the Premier League. If we can get someone in before the end of the season, that would have its benefits because he’d get a look at the playing staff before the end of the season.”
Last night, Keane’s adviser Michael Kennedy said he was unaware that Ipswich were interested in his client.
Only last month, however, Keane declared he was ready to return to football.
“I want to get back into management in the summer,” said Keane.
“I don’t know where that will be, but I’m keeping all my options open.”
Ipswich travel to Cardiff on Saturday before hosting Coventry at Portman Road on the final day of the season.
Portman Road was packed with over 28,000 fans for the derby victory over Norwich last Sunday, and with 13 players out of contract in the summer and the promise of a huge war chest from Evans to bolster the playing ranks, the new boss will be walking into one of the most attractive jobs outside the Premier League.
Keane, 37, had also been linked with the other vacant and high-profile Championship post, at QPR.
Ipswich will be hoping Keane can repeat his Championships success he achieved at Sunderland. Keane led the Black Cats from the bottom of the Championship to promotion to the Premier League and was awarded the Championship Manager of the Year accolade in 2007.
However the club has struggled in the Premier League, and Keane quit the club in December.
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