De Vos Delighted to See Old Boss Take Over at Town
Thursday, 3rd Feb 2011 16:07
Former Town skipper Jason De Vos is delighted that his old Wigan boss Paul Jewell has taken over at Portman Road. De Vos played under Jewell for the Latics between 2001 and 2004 and captained the side which won the 2002/03 Second Division title.
De Vos told TWTD that he thoroughly enjoyed his time working for Jewell: “I played under Paul Jewell for three years. I joined Paul at Wigan in 2001 and had a great time playing for him.
“He was a very, very good manager and we had a very, very successful team at Wigan. That was in large part due to his ability as a manager and as someone who can spot talent and bring in good players.
“I think there were only two players from our championship team 2003 that he didn’t sign. He brought virtually the entire team into the club and that was the backbone of the side which got into the Premier League and stayed there.”
This knack of unearthing gems, De Vos says, is one of Jewell’s biggest strengths: “He’s very, very good at signing players. He brought in probably a dozen players or more at Wigan and every single one of them played a role in the success of that club. There were very few that didn’t work out in terms of his transfer dealings. He did a very good job in that respect.
“But he’s also a very good coach. Tactically his teams are always very well prepared. We spent countless hours working on defensive shape and getting that side of things right and looking to be quick on the counter-attack.
“He signed players who would fit that system and played that role to perfection, among them Jimmy Bullard, Jason Roberts, Nathan Ellington. They are all players who have gone on to have a great deal of success at the highest level of the game. Paul certainly does have a keen eye for talent.”
The ex-Canada captain says his old boss got the best out of his Wigan players, sometimes by switching their roles: “A great example is a player like Lee McCulloch. When I first went to Wigan Lee was a striker, who wasn’t really finding the back of the net, he wasn’t really clicking as an out-and-out target man.
“Paul decided to play him as a left winger and it was the making of him. He went on to have a tremendous run, not just with Wigan but with Rangers as well.
“He’s moved around and has played various positions, but I think he would agree that a large part of his success as a player was down to the influence that Paul had on him.”
De Vos believes Jewell and assistant manager Chris Hutchings are the right men for the Blues: “When I saw the news that Paul and Chris Hutchings were joining Town I was delighted because they are exactly what the team needs.
“The club needs a manager like Paul who can get the best out of the players because there’s talent there and I really don’t believe the team should be in the position they are in now.
“Paul’s the kind of guy that if you do the business for him, he’ll look after you. I certainly had a very good working relationship with him and it was a very difficult decision to leave Wigan and join Ipswich.
“The relationship that I had with Paul was the one thing that made me hesitate before making that move. Had things worked out differently and I’d stayed there, I’m sure I would have enjoyed playing at that club with Paul for the rest of my career.
“As it was, I decided to leave and thoroughly enjoyed my time at Ipswich and have nothing but fond memories of playing for Ipswich Town.”
De Vos says players working for Jewell know that they have to maintain their standards: “We always knew at Wigan that we had to do the job for him or we’d be out of the team. We were fortunate that the club had the finance to go out buy players, so the players were on their toes and knew that they had to perform or they would be replaced.
“That was made very clear to us, but we had a tremendous couple of years there and Paul deserves a lot of credit for that. I’m hopeful he can do the exact same thing at Town and get the team back up challenging for promotion where I think it should be.”
De Vos says Jewell is more involved in the coaching side of things than managers like Joe Royle or Roy Keane: “Paul is very hands-on in that respect. Every Thursday the players knew we’d be working on defensive shape, we’d do waves of attack and there would be a lot of repetition so that everybody would be on the same page.
“When we won what’s now League One, we conceded 23 goals in 46 games, only nine of them on the road. There was a reason for that and that was because Paul made sure everybody in the team knew exactly what their responsibility was and because he brought in good players.
“I’m hoping that that’s exactly what will happen at Town because it’s disheartening to say the least to see the team where they are now. Hopefully Paul and Hutch can turn it around and get the boys back up where they belong.”
The centre-half doesn’t even entirely dismiss a promotion push this season: “You can never rule it out in the Championship. We’ve seen time and again a team go on a run, sneak into the play-offs and get promotion. Look at West Ham in 2005.
“We were a point away from automatic promotion and they were 12 points adrift of us. They snuck in the play-offs, beat us and went on to win the final.
“It can happen and any team within touching distance of those play-off places knows that. Go on a run of two or three games on the bounce and all of a sudden you’re back in the mix and challenging again.”
These days De Vos is back in Canada and is the technical director at the Oakville Soccer Club in Ontario, as well as working in broadcasting.
He says he’s looking to instil the footballing principles he picked up at Town and Wigan into Canadian youngsters: “We’re the biggest youth soccer club in Canada, we have more than 10,000 players at our club. It’s a big, big job. We have a tremendous potential here, but the task for me here is to put in place a programme to develop all these players.
“Not just in isolation, but to try and work with the other bigger clubs in Canada to try and form a network of clubs which are all doing the same things, focusing on the fundamentals – the basic skills, ball-mastery, passing, receiving, comfort on the ball.
“Essentially, what was preached to me every day at Ipswich – the ball should be on the grass where it belongs, playing the game the right way. I’ve taken that philosophy here to Canada and am trying to recreate the enjoyable environment in which I learnt the game right up to the last day I played soccer at Ipswich.
“Canada is a wonderful country, there’s so much potential here. But there’s so much work that needs to be done to fix our development structure, which is one of the reasons I took on my job here as technical director in order to have a hands-on role in restructuring player development so that we can get the kids at the right ages, from eight to 12, and teach them the fundamentals.”
De Vos says it’s frustrating to see Canadian players such as former Blues loanee Asmir Begovic (Bosnia) and current Town academy youngster Caolan Lavery (Northern Ireland) commit to playing football for other nations: “That’s a problem for us. We need to start producing at the international level in order for players who are born, raised and developed in Canada to develop an affinity for the national team programme.
“It’s very disheartening to see players choose to play for another country who could play for Canada. Hopefully, we can turn that around and change that mentality, but it’ll take a little bit of time.”
And while he’s doing that, he assures us he’ll be sending any talented youngsters he spots in the direction of Portman Road: “I’m looking, believe me! As soon as I find one I’ll be getting on the phone to Paul and Hutch!”
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