Paul Jewell feared for his future before incredible Oakwell turnaround
PAUL Jewell has revealed how close he came to exiting Ipswich Town earlier this season.
The Blues went into December’s televised match at Barnsley on the back of a miserable run of seven straight defeats.
And when Jewell walked into half-time at Oakwell with his side 2-0 down, he now admits he feared the worst.
Whether the experienced manager was contemplating his own future or whether owner Marcus Evans was preparing to make a decision is unclear – and will probably never be known.
But Jewell said: “I was walking down the touchline starting to think that I might be spending Christmas at home.
“It was a long walk and I knew I had to get that team talk right. I was pretty calm. I just said ‘believe in yourself, believe in each other, you’re better than this’. Goals change games, we got a goal within 20-odd seconds and after that every time we went forward we seemed to get a goal.
“We scrambled a victory the week after against Derby, then we had a little bit of another wobble, but then started to show signs of improvement in the New Year.
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“I think the Blackpool game was a bigger turning point really. I know we ended up drawing 2-2, but we played exceptionally well for an hour. The following week we went to Leeds and were in control until the goalie got sent-off, then Birmingham we played very well and things transpired against us.
“Since the Blackpool game we’ve shown real shoots of recovery, but obviously people talk about the Barnsley game because it could have been eight straight defeats. To come back from that was a great victory.”
Centre back Damien Delaney admitted players were also starting to fear the worst after that first half horror show at Oakwell.
He said: “We were concerned for the manager. Any manager who loses seven games in a row is going to be under pressure and I am sure if you asked him after the game, he might have said he thought that was it (at half-time). “That second half was crucial – I think he bought (two-goal) Keith Andrews a drink. Had we lost an eighth it would have been hard to recover from.
“But Ipswich has always had a tradition of sticking by their managers and giving them every opportunity and that is what they have done. I think I had more managers in my 18 months at QPR than Ipswich have had in their whole history!”
With supporters growing increasingly concerned during that grim run – but without any public display of disapproval – Jewell praised the backing he received from the owner.
He explained: “I’m a human being, so I can’t say I didn’t take any notice of what people were saying – of course you do.
“You have to keep believe in yourself though and I have to say Marcus (Evans) was one of the big reasons for the turnaround because the players knew the owner was behind me. He met them a few times and let them know that.
“Sometimes you see football clubs where the players know the owner is waiting to pull the trigger and that creates uncertainty.
“I never had that feeling, I was putting pressure on myself because of the results, but I got the feeling from both the owner and supporters that people were willing us to succeed.
“I’m not saying I have succeeded yet, but we have turned it around a little bit and we are making progress.”