Former Manchester United star Roy Keane has made a surprise return to management at second-flight Ipswich just four months after walking away from Premier League Sunderland.
Keane’s appointment at the East Anglian club was confirmed on Thursday and he told their official Web site itfc.co.uk that he was targeting promotion “at the earliest opportunity.” The 37-year-old Keane has been out of work since resigning last December with Sunderland in the relegation zone. “I truly believe that I am joining a club that has the potential, ambition and infrastructure to once again be a Premier League side,” he said “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.” Keane succeeds Jim Magilton, who was sacked after Ipswich failed to make the play-offs in the Championship, meaning they will be heading for their eighth straight season in the second-tier. Former Republic of Ireland midfielder Keane made an immediate impression when taking over at Sunderland in the 2006-07 season, leading them from fourth bottom to the league title. Ipswich, funded by hospitality entrepreneur Evans and with former British Olympic Association chief executive Clegg at the helm, will be hoping Keane can repeat his first season magic at Sunderland. He kept them in the top-flight in their first season but left them struggling near the foot of the table and with reports of disagreements with the club’s hierarchy. The outspoken Keane has often courted controversy but Clegg has no doubts he is the right man for the job.
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“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 told BBC Radio Four: “It is a massive coup for Ipswich Town,” added Clegg who was team leader as Great Britain achieved a record medals haul in the Beijing Olympics. Ipswich won the English title back in 1962 under Alf Ramsey, who went on to lead England to World Cup triumph in 1966. The other successful period in the club’s history came under another former England manager Bobby Robson with consistent high finishes in the league combined with wins in the FA Cup in 1978 and UEFA Cup in 1981.