Jewell’s record in the transfer market has to improve
ACTIONS speak louder than words.
Ipswich Town manager Paul Jewell has always insisted that it would be a long-term fix; that he would need to make full use of his two-and-half-year contract to turn the club’s fortunes around.
Sensible supporters understood that. They recognised that a team which had just flirted with relegation for much of the previous campaign – a team that was entering its 10th successive season in the Championship – were not suddenly going to become world-beaters overnight.
Yet a summer transfer policy of bringing in a host of experienced, big-wage footballers to a club already packed with players coming towards the end of their contracts took away Jewell’s right to plead patience.
These were the actions of a man who was in a hurry, not building for the future.
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To the Blues boss’ credit though, he has admitted – with humble hindsight – that his summer transfer policy was wrong.
For weeks now Jewell has insisted that he will look away from top-flight cast-offs and loanees in this January transfer window, instead aiming to bring young, hungry players to the club on long-term contracts.
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Pluck a few more gems from the lower leagues in the mould of Aaron Cresswell, steer the club away from a relegation battle and fans could probably just about tolerate another mid-to-lower finish in the table.
They would have something to look forward to, you see. They could at least see a plan unfolding – even if it does not get articulated by silent owner Marcus Evans.
At the moment though, there is only concern when you look into the future at Portman Road.
Paul Jewell is aiming to strengthen his squad with some permanent additions this month, but – as STUART WATSON reports – there have been more misses than hits among his 14 signings in the transfer market so far.
Seemed something of a panic buy at the time, Jewell having previously laughed off the transfer only to snap up the free agent as goals continued to be leaked.
Putting injuries aside, the 30-year-old has largely been excellent. His no-nonsense style to defending has certainly been missed whenever he’s not been available – as shown by Monday’s 3-1 home defeat to Nottingham Forest.
THE Icelandic centre-back’s CV was certainly encouraging – with promotion to and success in the Premier League to his name with Reading.
And an impressive debut at Bristol City on the opening day raised hopes.
However, his age (34) was always a concern and you have to say that the latter has proved inhibitive so far. A series of injuries ruled him out for much of the early part of the season, while he has looked well off the pace for the odd game he has come in for.
Few expected Jewell’s first permanent signing at the club to be from non-league. In many ways though, spending �150,000 on a midfielder from Luton encouraged fans that their manager would be able to find a series of hidden gems.
Transfer policy has not continued in that vein though, while Drury has barely been given a chance to prove himself – as the manager has admitted himself.
The Blues were ready to sell the 28-year-old to League Two club Crawley recently but, with an agreed pre-loan fee not matched, he was pitched straight back into the first team for Monday’s 3-1 home defeat to Nottingham Forest.
Signing the fading striker was always going to be a big outside shot – but, available on a free transfer, supporters hoped that Jewell might be the man to get the best of the 30-year-old.
The Blues boss had shelled out a club-record �1.2m for ‘The Duke’ when at Wigan and the striker repaid him by firing the club to the Premier League in 2004/05.
His career has been on a downward spiral since then though and disappointing spells at West Brom and Watford meant it was always unlikely that he could have a similar impact on the Championship again.
So it has proved so far, with the front man having failed to score in just two starts and 13 substitute appearances.
Town beat a host of other Championship clubs to the experienced midfielder’s signature in the summer.
The now 35-year-old looked nothing like a former Champions League semi-finallist at the start of the season though, with fitness and concentration a real issue.
A run of game – plus a return to his favoured central midfield role in a 4-4-2 formation – has seen him steadily improve. Still performing below expectations though.
VERDICT: JURY’S OUT
Despite conceding 38 goals during 18 games on loan from Fulham, the England international still has to be considered a hit.
Some superb reaction saves kept the score down for Town at times and the Blues were gutted to see his 24-hour recall clause enacted last month.
Jewell said he’d just been doing the local player a favour by allowing him to train with the squad. Suddenly though, an injury to David Stockdale saw him snapped up by his hometown club last month.
The 34-year-old made a rusty looking ‘third debut’ in the 3-2 home defeat to Reading and – following a shoulder injury – has since fallen behind Arran Lee-Barrett in the pecking order.
The 21-year-old has lived up to his inconsistent tag so far, looking immensely skilful at times and disinterested at others.
Has been a rare bright spark in recent weeks with some encouraging performances at centre-forward. Lots to prove, but if he does live up to his potential then his �1.1m fee from Arsenal will be a sound piece of business.
VERDICT: JURY’S OUT
At just �1m the proven Championship goalscorer looked an absolute steal from Cardiff in the summer, with two goals at Bristol City on the opening day backing up that view.
The striker has gone completely off the boil as the season has worn on though, with an off-field battle against a severe gambling addiction no doubt proving a major distraction.
JIMMY BULLARD Hailed as the returning ‘cult hero’ and a major transfer coup for Town back in August, the 33-year-old has not come close to reaching the heights of his loan spell at the club last season.
For a spell he pulled the strings in a defensive midfield role, but he has since looked decidedly leggy.
Hasn’t started since the 4-0 humbling at Burnley and – worryingly – has signed a two-year deal on big money.
Nine goals in 20 appearances – from midfield – tells you all you need to know.
The Irish international’s long-range shooting and superbly timed runs into the box proved invaluable, with his strong personality also seeing him handed the captaincy when Grant Leadbitter dropped out of the side.
Now back at employers Blackburn, the Blues are desperate to sign him on a permanent basis.
Of all Jewell’s summer signings, it was arguably the addition of relatively an unknown youngster from League One strugglers Tranmere that did the least to quicken the pulse.
However – amidst a team full of ‘big name’ players – it’s the 22-year-old left-back who has really shone, his sparkling early season displays catching the eye of scouts up and down the land.
Tenacious in defence, his wand of a left-foot has already provided six assists – double anyone else at the club. And while his form has dipped slightly in recent weeks, he looks a sound investment at a maximum of �520,000.
DANNY COLLINS The Stoke City centre-back made a big impact upon his arrival on loan in September.
A major part of Town’s impressive six-game unbeaten run he looked to have sorted out previous defensive woes; however, he was then part of the seven-game losing streak.
Having barely set the world alight during his first loan spell at the club, Ipswich fans were surprised to see him brought back for another temporary spell.
Having missed two sitters at Blackpool in his first game back, the Irishman looked like he would barely get a look-in. However, he has proved to be a useful addition over the last few games – his versatility and physicality bringing the team an added dimension
VERDICT: JURY’S OUT