Hurt Jewell has a steely-eyed glint
THE cliches came out, but believe me, the sullen looks of hurt and steely glints of determination were equally genuine.
Ipswich Town manager Paul Jewell is undoubtedly a wounded man after watching the team who he has worked so tirelessly building this summer collapse like a pack of cards over the last week, conceding 12 goals in five days against two newly-promoted sides.
Lesser managers would have stayed at home on Sunday and scouted his side’s next opponents – Leeds United – by watching the match on television. Instead Jewell dusted himself down and drove to Upton Park to watch the Yorkshire side’s 2-2 draw against West Ham in person.
Lesser managers would have cancelled a mid-week press call with local reporters yesterday morning too, but Jewell was there, bright and early, ready to face the fall-out.
Even then he could have been difficult, anticipating the probing post-mortem style questions by taking a defensive, even aggressive, front foot stance. Believe me, many under-pressure managers do.
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Instead, we sat casually around a table in his office at the club’s Playford Road training ground, no podium or desk as a barrier, and he spoke open and honestly. Too honestly probably in the case of Lee Martin.
“It felt like a little period of mourning in the two days after the game,” he said. “That’s obviously a little dramatic what with everything else that goes on in the world, but that’s the level of hurt I’ve felt. I can honestly say I was embarrassed to leave the house on Sunday.”
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Slowly though, as the interview progressed, you could see the fire slowly return. Getting ever straighter in his chair, eyes were met as questions were answered.
“I’m a big boy, I can take the criticism,” he said. “I’ve developed a thick skin over the years.”
And when explanations were given they did not come across as defeatist or throwaway excuses, more the thoughts of a realistic man who has long got his head around the size of his task.
“The fact is we’ve had I don’t know how many years of mediocrity at this club and we’re not going to turn water into wine over night. There might have to be a bit more pain before there is gain.
“This a tough time for everybody – me, the players, the supporters – but who knows, from adversity, maybe something great can come?”
Then, almost as if he had talked some renewed enthusiasm into himself, he even allowed some Liverpudlian humour to return.
“I think Norwich lost 7-1 early on in the season not that long ago and look what’s happened to them. That said I probably shouldn’t use that example because they ended up changing their manager after that result!”
Don’t worry, there’s plenty of fight left in Jewell for the long season ahead.