Could these players sparkle under Jewell?
“I’VE no preconceived ideas of any players here. I know every manager says that, but there is a blank piece of paper from Thursday.”
So said Paul Jewell, as he took up the Ipswich Town hot seat last week with a message that would have delighted those who fell out of favour with his predecessor Roy Keane.
A new manager and a clean slate always goes hand-in-hand and so it will prove as Jewell surveys the training ground during his first full week with his new team.
Jewell, in keeping with the man he replaced, has stressed the importance of performances in training, but it would be difficult to imagine wildly unpredictable team selections – one of the characteristics of the Keane era.
Some Keane favourites might be looking anxiously at Jewell’s first team sheet in Saturday’s must-win home match against Doncaster Rovers – although, of course, there will be players who both managers will see as crucial to success.
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Conversely, those either not fancied by Keane or those in and out of the team with alarming regularity will hope for a fresh chance. In the shape of Lee Martin, that “chance” has come quickly after his recall from Charlton Athletic.
Either way, it makes for interesting times at Portman Road with so many looking to impress the manager in the short term and too many playing for a new contract come the end of the season.
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Today, we look at five players who could be set to benefit from a change in manager.
Priskin’s time at Ipswich has so far been a strange one. Bought for big money last season but scoring just one goal, the �1.7million move smacked of desperation from a manager crying out for a goal-getter.
Shipped off to QPR, and then publicly asking to leave Town, Priskin was given a Roy Keane rareity – a second chance.
But just as he looked like repaying his manager’s faith, Priskin had a paddy – well according to Keane at least – and was banished for the last three matches of a dreadful reign. New manager, new man – Tam the Man according to one headline – as Priskin scored a famous winner against Arsenal and then followed it up with the opening goal against Millwall on Saturday.
After such a turbulent time, Priskin needs to settle and, having won over the majority of the fans, he will be hoping for similar success when it comes to Jewell.
A clear fans’ favourite due to his indomitable spirit. His versatility also makes him popular among managers with Keane playing him in virtually every single outfield position.
But arguably his greatest strength has also been his biggest downfall. When things were going wrong, as they invariably did under Keane, Peters would often be a fall guy, dropped for seemingly no apparent reason.
Now is the time for the popular 23-year-old Canadian to cement a regular first team spot – more than likely at right back unless the rumours of a move for Pascal Chimbonda come true. Peters has proven against the likes of dangerous Reading winger Jimmy Kebe what an excellent full back he could be, given the right manager and a run of starts. An attacking threat, his pace will often get him out of trouble at the other end. He certainly never gave Arsenal’s Andrei Arshavin an inch at Portman Road last week – though that is not saying too much at the moment.
The biggest mystery among fans when it comes to the current Town playing staff is what is going on with the Argentinian left winger.
After a career-threatening injury ruined his bright start to life in Suffolk, Civelli’s appearance in the first pre-season friendly was a big highlight on a balmy night in Newmarket in July.
After a minor injury caused another setback, Civelli has since been a regular in the reserves – well as regular as you can be given the stop-start nature of the fixture list – and also on the first team bench against Norwich, West Brom and Chelsea. Given the nature of the defeats, he could have easily been given five or ten minutes at Carrow Road or Stamford Bridge.
The fact he wasn’t is pretty worrying. Keane did little wrong regarding Civelli, even allowing him to recuperate in his homeland. But one has to hope Jewell can return him to his once promising glory – for player and club alike.
The return of the winger, five months after he was shipped off to lower league Charlton Athletic, was hardly what fans wanted from Jewell’s first move as manager.
But perhaps noticing a lack of flair in the side, as well as problems on the left side of midfield (see above), bringing Martin back into the fold was hardly surprising. Jewell promised a clean slate and he has backed up his words by calling back the former Manchester United player.
Martin faces a big challenge in winning over the home faithful but he should be given a chance, probably from the bench against Doncaster at Portman Road. And he only has to look across the dressing room at a certain Tamas Priskin to show what can be achieved. Don’t completely rule out Martin yet – though he will need to quickly show he is up for a relegation scrap.
Roy Keane did pretty much everything right by the 17-year-old striker who, of course, signed his first professional contract under the Irishman.
Keane was rightly quick not to heap too much pressure on such tender shoulders while of course realising the importance of keeping hold of the young gun – the manager once famously admitting he would be “lynched“ if he allowed Wickham to leave.
But the truth is that Wickham has looked a shell of the player that was last season tipped to one day partner Wayne Rooney for England.
Injuries have not helped, but nor has a failure to get a true run in the side. Yes, he might only be 17, but only starting him four times all season - with almost four times as many appearances from the bench – is taking the protection card a little too literally.
Wickham needs a run of games and if he keeps playing like he did against Arsenal, he should get them.