Jewell ‘ideally’ supports youth plans – but still has doubts about academies

PAUL Jewell has dropped his broadest hint yet that he is ready to back multi-million plans to improve the Blues’ academy structure.

The Town manager, along with owner Marcus Evans and chief executive Simon Clegg, must decide whether to spend �2 million a year on trying to promote Town into a ‘category one’ Academy – allowing them to try and attract youngsters from across the country.

Clegg this week said the fact arch-rivals Norwich City had announced plans to go for the top level status would have no bearing on Town’s decision – despite the prospect of Ipswich playing second fiddle to their Norfolk neighbours.

Threequarters of Super Blues who voted in a web poll run by this newspaper said they wanted the club to spend the money and Jewell himself admitted he would “ideally” like to go ahead with the plans.

He said: “I am waiting for the final draft to come and go through it to see what is the best way forward in a meeting with the Academy staff, Simon Clegg, myself and the owner. What we want is what is best for the club.”

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Speaking days after Ipswich beat Leeds 2-0 in the FA Youth Cup, Jewell added: “We want that winning attitude and it was terrific to see, but it is not just about winning.

“I watch Under-9s, 10s and 11s, but the only way I view the Academy is not about winning, but developing them. The only result in the club that matters is the first team. Everything else should be about development towards getting into that first team.”

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Jewell reiterated Clegg’s stance that the club would not be impacted by Norwich already pledging to push ahead with the ‘category one’ status – claiming the extra money earned by the Canaries in the Premier League made their decision easier.

And the Town boss admitted he had certain doubts about Academies in general, explaining: “I’m not sure they produce enough hungry players. They always play on fantastic pitches, they all have different coloured boots, but they have to go somewhere.

“The best players – Rooney, Gerrard, Carragher – would have come through without Academies. I used to train on shale at Liverpool and when you slid in, you got cut. It taught you to stay on your feet.

“There’s a lot of pluses for the Academy but it can also produce a soft underbelly of footballers at times. You have to have that hunger and fire in your belly to go to the next step.”

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