Club lack long-term strategy
25 October ~ For something that lasted only 21 months, there are plenty of lowlights to look back on from Paul Jewell's time as Ipswich manager. But the memory that will stay with me is the diamond-stitched car coat that Jewell wore for matches. Rain or shine, he'd trudge towards the dug-out with his hands shoved into the pockets, where they'd stay as he mooched around, giving the impression of a man who'd forgotten the things that once made him good at his job. The coat wasn't very stylish and it didn't look that effective either – an enduring image of Jewell.
Hired to steady the ship after the erratic Roy Keane era, Jewell never really managed to explain how he planned to build a squad or how he wanted the team to play. Formations and selections were constantly tinkered with, his substitutions usually weakened the team and judging by the shocking run of points lost from winning positions – his team took the lead in each of his last five matches and emerged with a total of two points – he wasn't much of a half-time motivator.
It's not surprising if his players were short on confidence. The most frustrating aspect of Jewell's Ipswich career was his short-term thinking, in particular his near-obsessive dabbling in the loan market. At the time of his departure, Town had eight loanees in their squad. The players who had signed longer-term contracts were finding that a couple of bad games would see them pushed out in favour of someone borrowed from a better team's reserves. Hardly inspiring for young players like promising midfielder Luke Hyam, to find that they were losing their places to players who were only around to regain fitness before returning to their parent clubs – and not exactly a signifier of a bright future for Ipswich, either.
Jewell left the club rock-bottom of the Championship and his constant attempts at quick fixes only seemed to spring more leaks. In truth, he was symptomatic of a deeper malaise: the club's debt currently stands at £66 million and is growing each year, the supply of players from the academy to the first team has all but dried up and owner Marcus Evans has yet to communicate any kind of plan for reversing the steady slide that he's presided over since buying the club in 2007. Unsurprisingly, attendances are falling.
Last season, during one of the many wretched runs of form under Jewell, chief executive Simon Clegg infamously tried to pacify supporters by pointing out that "the turnstiles have been painted". Now, as then, a more thoughtful and intelligent approach is needed to reassure fans who won't be satisfied by the sight of a new coat. Gavin Barber