Neil Warnock and Ipswich Town: Will it happen three years on?

Following Neil Warnock’s sacking from Queen’s Park Rangers on Sunday evening, talk quickly turned to the reigning Championship title-winning manager’s next move. That promotion was the seventh of Warnock’s career and the second time he has helped a team climb to the top flight, having reached the Premier League with his beloved Sheffield United in 2006. Like him or loathe him, he is clearly one of the hottest managerial properties in the Football League – so will he be tempted into a quick return to the dugout?

Rangers lie just three points from the foot of the table after a bright spell, coinciding with the arrival of current owner Tony Fernandes, faded in recent weeks. With an influx of high-profile signings such as Shaun Wright-Phillips and Joey Barton, Rangers looked set to match the likes of Norwich and Swansea in adapting well to the top flight but they have won just one of ten home league games so far this season. Their fellow newly-promoted sides have managed four apiece. Fernandes, perhaps influenced in his decision by the upturn in Sunderland’s fortunes since they appointed Martin O’Neill, looks set to turn to Mark Hughes.

Warnock now has two options – continue or retire. He turned 63 last month and has often talked in the past about his desire to retire to Cornwall. It seems an obvious time for this to take place, given that he could barely have done more with QPR than he did during his short reign and, despite their perilous position at present, the bottom half of the Premier League is extremely tight. Mid-table is just a couple of wins away.

Assuming he opts to continue in management, the second tier looks his most likely destination. One look at the Championship table throws one name into the equation above all others – Ipswich Town.

Back in April 2009, Warnock was heavily linked with the manager’s job at Ipswich. It was said that Jim Magilton, then in charge at Portman Road, would be leaving Suffolk that summer to be replaced by the Sheffield-born boss, then at Crystal Palace. As it turned out, it took nearly twelve months longer for Warnock to exit Selhurst Park. His departure from west London comes less than two years after his appointment despite a superb 2010/11 which saw QPR dominate the Championship – the kind of recent history all Football League chairmen admire.

When appointing Roy Keane, Ipswich must have had the Irishman’s Championship title win at Sunderland in mind and Paul Jewell’s success at Wigan will have had a major bearing on the decision to bring in their current manager. Jewell has largely flattered to deceive, however, with Ipswich’s form fluctuating wildly since he took charge. The Liverpudlian has overseen ten defeats in Ipswich’s last thirteen games in all competitions. A glorious second-half revival at Barnsley seemed set to save Jewell’s job but their latest league outing saw a damaging 3-1 reverse at home to Nottingham Forest, who have only scored against Ipswich in their past eleven games and closed the gap between the two teams to just three points.

Warnock, of course, is difficult to second guess. When arriving at Crystal Palace, he was adamant that he would not manage any club after leaving the Eagles. “It’s my last job, without a shadow of a doubt”, said Warnock in October 2007. “There won’t be another job for me.”

There was. But will there now be another?

The Seventy Two
The Seventy Two published an outstanding series of articles about the Football League between 2010-12 and was the brainchild of Leicester City fan, David Bevan. As well as collaborating with The Two Unfortunates on the Football League Blog Network and a mammoth 2011-12 season preview, the site featured a host of leading bloggers and David was rewarded with a nomination in the 2011 Football Supporters’ Federation awards. Latterly, he was joined as co-editor by Joe Harrison and TTU is happy to present this archive of the site’s output.


  1. Elliott
    January 8, 2012

    Interesting piece. I think many years ago Town fans would have rejected the notion of Warnock being our manager straight away. He was not a well liked figure at Portman Road. Right now though, people are crying out for a change. I personally would welcome him were Jewell to be sacked but I don’t think he should be. Wholesale changes at the club have seen us go on a constant backwards trajectory (one good League cup run aside) since Magilton left and surely trying to keep the same group of players and coaches together is paramount to us moving forward in the long run. Jewell’s no mug, he proved that with Wigan and Bradford. Given time to get the right players in where strengthening is needed will hopefully see him turn it around.

    However, its also interesting to note how complimentary Warnock has been about Ipswich in recent times. He has frequently praised the club and the supporters in press conferences. It suggests to me he’d seriously consider taking over here were Jewell handed his P45 as one final challenge.

    • theseventytwo
      January 8, 2012

      I was just attempting to pre-empt the inevitable speculation about Warnock’s next move really, although I’m sure plenty of Ipswich fans had already discussed the idea even prior to his sacking. The link is an obvious one given what he’s said about the club in the past. Can’t imagine there are too many clubs whose fans he has praised on more than one occasion!

  2. Elliott
    January 8, 2012

    Very true. It fits really given what’s going on at PR currently. All the talk last night seemed to be of sacking Jewell and getting Lee Clark in – like he’d leave the promotion race at this stage! If we do get a new man there has to be realistic ambitions over who to go for

  3. Facefacts_ITFC
    January 9, 2012

    Ipswich Town have gigantic problems in that neither the manager, the chief exec, or owner know what they are doing. Paul Jewell cannot criticise his paymasters, but he must now be panicking that he is carrying the can for everything. Presumably to free up tightened purse strings, he just terminated Ivar Ingimarsson’s contract for one or two bad performances, when we have virtually no centre halves fit. He has spent a lot of money for this level, with little return. His many signings have failed, with the notable exception of Aaron Cresswell. Throughout the management team, there will be blind panic about the slide towards League One and the inevitable impact on season ticket sales for next season. Match ticket prices are now so high that they could only be sustained if the team was in the top six of the Championship and playing attractive football. As the club’s owner and mouthpiece cannot change, I think a change of manager will need to be made very quickly, and it’s going to need to be ‘box office’, like Roy Keane, to improve season ticket sales. Terry Butcher of Inverness Caledonian Thistle might even be approached, although he has failed at this level before, but is far more ‘box office’ than Neil Warnock, who, once he sees the set-up and sees videos of the team, may turn us down anyway. Marcus Evans is going to write a piece for the matchday programme (14th January). “I am out of my depth and should go myself – but we’re in this together – please renew your season ticket”.

  4. Tom
    January 9, 2012

    If Huddersfield were to sell Rhodes then i’m sure Clark would come straight away. Even if they don’t – maybe he will come and bring Jordan back with him! I think he would recognise Ipswich to be a bigger club with a better long term future than Huddersfield anyway so would have no problem coming to join us.
    Who said to keep Jewell? Couldn’t disagree more. Continuity is only good if you can see progress. How we’ve progressed over the past 12 months is that we’ve got even worse!
    Warnock? NO WAY! He bought his way to promotion with QPR. What we need is a YOUNG AND HUNGRY manager to come in and motvate the players we have to play to the best of their abilities – not someone who wants to come in and just replace them all again. That’s where we get our continuity from – not from a manager who’s given up on the players already


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