Sleepless nights, abuse in the street and sympathetic phone calls – birthday boy Paul Jewell just wants to feel the love

HE looked more like a man ready to celebrate his birthday than one with the weight of the world on his shoulders.

Ipswich Town manager Paul Jewell turns 48 years old today and, in truth, there were probably 101 things he’d rather have been doing on the eve of that landmark than facing the press.

It’s been a week which, by his own admittance, has included several sleepless night.

And it’s no wonder when you consider he’s been subjected to abuse in the street, some bookies have stopped taking bets on his replacement, while his recent �1.5m signing could be facing a very lengthy spell on the sidelines.

However, with the television cameras making a rare appearance at Playford Road just to see just how a man under pressure is bearing up, the Blues boss for once steered clear of his usual comfort-blanket of sarcasm.

Instead, he spoke honestly, calmly and with a sensible balance of positivity anchored by the reality of the situation.

“I love being manager here and everything about this club,” said Jewell. “Obviously I’m not loving the results and I understand that a lot of people don’t love me at the moment, but I’m hoping I can turn that around.

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“It’s bloody tough at the moment. As you can imagine, all people want to talk to me about is me losing my job, or me quitting, or how bad a manager I am.

“It’s not pleasant losing matches, it’s not pleasant people shouting after you down the street, it’s not pleasant people calling you names.

“I haven’t killed anybody – as far as I’m aware anyway – I’m not a criminal, but we’ve lost games. Players have made mistakes, but ultimately it comes down to me.

“I won’t hide away from that because I pick the team, I pick the tactics and if they don’t come off I’m big enough to take the blame.”

With Harry Redknapp having called Jewell this week to rubbish rumours that owner Marcus Evans had already lined him up as the next manager at Portman Road, the Blues boss continued: “Harry didn’t have to make that call.

“I’ve had a lot of phone calls off managers in the game this week giving me support, which is greatly appreciated, and one or two off supporters as well, which is nice, but I know the only thing that will change my position is results.

“Anyone who has a modicum of football sense knows that we could easily won against Middlesbrough and Wolves. I won’t hide behind the Charlton game because we weren’t good enough, but if we’d won the two I’d mentioned we wouldn’t be having this conversation.

“I’m 48 tomorrow (today) so I know what football is all about. I’ve experienced highs and lows during 600-odd games in management and know just how fickle – and sometimes just how unfair – it can be.

“All I can do is try my best to turn things around. And the only way I can change peoples’ opinions of me is by winning matches.”

You can normally tell when the light goes out in a manager’s eyes – when there is that air of resignation. And Paul Jewell certainly doesn’t cut the figure of a dead man walking just yet.