The cautionary tale of Paul Jewell

Paul Jewell is a curious manager, who has made an impact on top level football in the strangest ways. For instance, his departures at Premier League clubs led to the most hopeless of caretaker managers: Chris Hutchings, embarrassing himself twice. Jewell kept one of the worst teams in Premier League history up against the odds, before taking another of the worst teams down without a single win in his tenure.

He seems a likeable if forthright Scouser, teeming with passion and dedication to the job, whilst always telling it like it is. Despite his early success, he has recently been sacked by lowly Ipswich Town, leaving them rock bottom of the Championship. I was a fan of his work in the Premier League, and so this article is to remind ourselves of just what went wrong for a manager whose star seemed to be ascending.

Jewell’s managerial career began under the tutelage of the legendary Chris ‘Kammy’ Kamara at Bradford City. Luckily for Jewell, Kammy was a pretty useless manager, leading to assistant Jewell taking the reins at Valley Parade. The young apprentice became a decent master, as he stabilised the club, and got them promoted to the Premier league a season later.

There were times in their debut Premier League season when Bradford looked so out of their depth you would cringe. Relying on a ragtag bunch of veterans like Dean Saunders, David Wetherall and Peter Beagrie was always a risk, and there was a period in March to April when they lost six games on the spin, including three 4-0 spankings. When outspoken motormouth Rodney Marsh declared them dead certs for the drop, not many derided him, but Paul Jewell got quietly on with the job, and had the last laugh. Wimbledon’s shocking fall from grace coincided with some spirited climactic performances from the Bantams, culminating in an epic final day victory over Liverpool, which kept Bradford up in the most unlikely circumstances. Incredibly, demanding Bradford owner Geoffrey Richmond declared it a ‘disappointing’ campaign, and Jewell wisely stood down; his impossible task complete.

Jewell chose strangely for his next challenge; a doomed season at recently-relegated Sheffield Wednesday, which lost him employment and some kudos. He next turned up at Wigan, and within four years, he had worked his magic, taking the club from the Second Division (equivalent of League One) to the Premier League. His incredible accomplishment was further embellished when he established the club in the top flight, with Wigan finishing 10th in their debut Premier League season, a position they have never matched since. As if this weren’t impressive enough, he also took the Latics into the final of the League Cup, which they lost 4-0 to Manchester United.

His next season was traumatic, but he held the ship afloat, guiding Wigan to final day survival, though he looked a broken man and stepped down shortly afterwards. By anyone’s measure, Jewell had overachieved with his two long-term jobs, and the football public waited to see which challenge he would take on next.

Derby County had made Bradford look like Brazil, with 5 points from their opening 14 games in 2007-08, and just a single win. Many who had seen them struggle were baffled at Jewell’s choice, questioning whether he had actually researched the job before taking it on. Despite his optimism, Jewell’s reputation was left in tatters, as he recorded just another six points in the final 24 matches, and no win, breaking all kinds of unwanted records in the process. He retained his honour and fought to undo the damage in the Championship, but to no avail, and resigned ignominiously before 2008 was out, leaving the club in 18th position in the Championship. The other notorious incident during his Derby tenure was the alleged sex tape of Jewell cheating on his wife. Fair to say it was not the greatest time of his life, in some aspects at least.

After almost assuredly taking stock of his life, Jewell resurfaced at Portman Road, succeeding Roy Keane at Ipswich Town. However, his experiences did not help him, and he eventually left the club in rock bottom position in the Championship. A spectacular fall from grace.

Jewell seems like an affable and dedicated manager, and his accomplishments speak for themselves, so why has his career been plummeting like a stone for the last five years? Some say Derby was a disastrous career choice he has never really recovered from, though there is another theory. Jewell’s two big successes in management have been at the clubs he represented with distinction in his playing career! Unfortunately for Jewell, the only other professional club he turned out for in any fashion was Grimsby Town, on loan. Beggars can’t be choosers though, let the next crusade begin!


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