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Ipswich axe Roy Keane

Roy Keane has been sacked as manager of struggling Championship side Ipswich Town.

Ipswich have lost seven of their last nine league games, prompting owner Marcus Evans to bring an end to Keane's 20-month reign at Portman Road.

First-team coach Ian McParland will take charge for Sunday's FA Cup third-round tie at Chelsea, but former Wigan and Derby County manager Paul Jewell is the early favourite to take control on a permanent basis at Portman Road.

Keane, who won 28 and lost 28 of his 81 games in charge of the Tractor Boys, issued a statement that read: "I'm hugely disappointed to be leaving Portman Road.

"Results haven't been as good as I'd have hoped so far this season and when results aren't good the manager gets the sack, that's the game. However, I have a genuine belief we were making progress and that the players have what it takes to turn this season around.

"We were preparing well for our visit to Chelsea on Sunday and then our Carling Cup semi with Arsenal. Getting to that semi proves what I know the team is capable of.

"I was also working hard to build the squad during the transfer window, looking at our options to attract new players to the club.

"I have loved my time at Ipswich, living locally to the club with my family, and have a massive respect for the club, its staff, the fans and the community and I wish them well.''

Former Manchester United captain Keane spent more than £8 million on players during his time in charge, but failed to turn the Ipswich into promotion contenders and he leaves the club languishing in 19th place.

After a poor campaign last term, Keane started this season well but failed to maintain any kind of form and Monday's 1-0 home defeat to Nottingham Forest appears to have been one defeat too many.

Ipswich chief executive Simon Clegg said: "I can confirm that Ipswich Town Football Club have amicably terminated the contract of our manager Roy Keane with immediate effect. I have to say this is a sad day for Ipswich Town football club and for me personally. I'd like to that Roy Keane for his efforts, his dedication, his support and his professionalism over the last 20 months.

"His reaction to the news is as I would have hoped and expected from someone I've got to know over the past two years. One of disappointment and sadness and coupled with the acknowledgment of the opportunity he was given and support he has received.

"We wanted to give Roy Keane the sufficient time to get the team right and to improve the situation. However, as he has said himself, the performances on the pitch since November have simply not been good enough. The results speak for themselves. We all carry a degree of responsibility for this failure and I include myself in this. I'm convinced that with a new manager we can achieve the objective and goals we have set for this club."

Keane's managerial highlight came in 2007 when he guided Sunderland to the Premier League, but the Irishman walked away from the club following a tough spell in the English top-flight.

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