Blame me if contracts go wrong again, says Jewell

BLAME me if the contract situation goes wrong again this season. That was the message from Ipswich Town manager Paul Jewell to the 70 fans who attended the Supporters’ Club AGM at Portman Road last night.

Key players David Norris and Gareth McAuley both left on Bosman free transfers in the summer and, with a number of current players now in the final year of their deals, concerns were raised that there could be another repeat scenario.

After the question was originally put to chief executive Simon Clegg, Jewell quickly stepped in saying: “I don’t know what happened last season, but you can blame me if it goes wrong this time.

“One of the main stipulations I ask for as a manager is to make contract decisions. I see the players every day and I know what they are worth.

“Both Simon and the owner (Marcus Evans) will be led by me on contracts because that is a football decision.

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“It’s not ideal having a lot of players coming to the end of their contracts, but it might also work in our favour. I want my players to always be looking to prove themselves.”

The Blues boss has recently rewarded summer signing Aaron Cresswell with a new deal after his excellent start to the season, while youth team striker Caolan Lavery has left the club after rejecting a contract offer that would have taken him to the end of the campaign.

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“When Aaron came here he wasn’t on a lot in football terms, but I wanted him to prove himself,” said Jewell.

“That’s how I’ve always worked with young players. I remember telling Leighton Baines’ parents at Wigan that it wouldn’t be beneficial to give a big pay rise straight away.

“I didn’t want him to take his foot off the gas so gave him his pay rises in stages. By the time I left he was on a fortune – now look at him.”

Commenting on Lavery, he said: “I’m disappointed he turned down our offer because, from what I gather, it was mainly to do with money.

“I wanted him to stay and then go out on loan to Rochdale.

“Because we offered him a contract though we still retain his compensation rights. I’ve been told that a League Two club now want him.”

Meanwhile, Jewell confirmed that winger Josh Carson – one of many in the last year of his current deal – will be offered an extension shortly.

He said: “Josh has done really, really well of late. He came back to pre-season in not the best of shape, but he’s got his head down and has been very close to being in my squad for the last two games.

“He’s someone with a big future at this club and we’ll be sitting down to discuss a new deal soon.”

Jewell and Clegg were also quizzed about Huddersfield striker Jordan Rhodes’ recent explosive goalscoring spell, former manager Roy Keane having sold him for a reported �850,000 in 2009.

Clegg said: “Jordan Rhodes is doing very well in League One at the moment, but who is to say he could do it at this level? I backed the manager (Keane) on a footballing decision and that will continue to be the policy here.”

Jewell added: “Managers live and die by their decisions. We don’t always get them right, but a man who’s never made a mistake has never made a decision.”

The Blues boss concluded with a message of thanks for the fans, saying: “Please don’t underestimate your importance to the club. We don’t take your support lightly.

“I’m from a working-class background and remember selling bottles of lemonade to go and watch Liverpool play.

“I know times are hard but your support means a lot to myself and all the players.”

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