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[Blog] My Advice to Marcus Evans Or: What to Do About This Bunch of Underperformers?
Written by AndrewPC on Monday, 5th Dec 2011 16:03

Let me confess, for although it is not yet illegal it is downright dangerous for your health, I am an expatriate, but avid, Town supporter, writes Andrew Cullen.

I had the desperate misfortune to time my last UK visit to coincide with going to see, back-to-back, Town’s 5-2 defeat at home to the Saints and the 7-1 debacle away to Posh. Leaving the latter game, I thought that we would never see again such a shameful performance from a Town side.

I was wrong. By all accounts the 4-0 hiding given the team by a young Burnley side was XXX-rated grievous injury for the fans; some team members were AWOL, others "spineless".

Reading many of the comments on this website from supporters since then and up to the Watford defeat, it is evident that 80-90% of opinion is that the club is in a parlous state. While perhaps as many as 30% are calling for Paul Jewell’s dismissal now in order to have a new manager in place for the January transfer window.

I do not agree, and Marcus Evans should not be listening to these siren voices.

Let me use this great website for setting out what needs to be done in the short term. Apologies to those who take offence. Marcus, if you read this website, then please read on.

Root Causes
Let’s start at the beginning: what are the root causes of the problem and how can they be solved?

Here is the manager’s voice on this subject: the players individually and collectively repeatedly commit basic errors, resulting in the shipping of too many easy goals. They fail to concentrate for the full 90 minutes. What is practiced on the training ground is not carried over into the matches. There is "spineless and gutless" response to determined opposition; a lack of commitment to the ‘dirty’ aspects of the game.

I doubt many fans would argue with that. Paul Jewell is honest, accurate and frank in his assessments.

Where many fans disagree though is with the role and responsibility of the manager and his assistants. The manager selects the team, formation and tactics, as well as the new players that join the club. He is responsible for the results and hence culpable. Town’s performances are in freefall, so he should go.

If you adopt this approach then it means that you accuse the manager (and perhaps his assistants) of being the root cause of the problem. It also means that you know exactly who his replacement should be (and that they are likely to accept an offer to take over) – since that individual will bring the experience and other qualities to rectify the problems. So who is it and are they available/affordable and willing ?

Picking up the Pieces
Colin Healy left ITFC very recently by mutual consent. After discussion between him and the manager, his contract was terminated by mutual consent. Why mention this now? Not only because it was the right thing to do for both parties, but also because it sets the precedent how to proceed, at least as regards getting the manager in the driving seat with his players.

It is not enough for the manager to get the dubious official statement of support from the executive management. He should be emboldened by the owner to: (a) read the riot act one more time to the players: “my way or the highway”. Any of the current squad players that the manager knows to be less than 100% committed both off and on the pitch should be shipped out as soon as possible (loaned out, sold, returned to loan club).

Meantime, apply the same logic used to punish Lee Martin a while back: let them train with the reserves. My suspicion is that, if this approach were adopted, we might see perhaps three prominent squad members fall off the radar. Replace them with some of our best youngsters. Jewell must apply his cutting edge to the disaffected. This is no time for player power disruption.

Good. So having now sorted out the wheat from the chaff, what comes next ? Winning a match, then getting a run of matches without defeat. Get confidence back! How to do that?

There are in my view four things, and none involves using the January transfer window to bring in yet more duff opportunists.

First, improve the coaching staff responsible for the defence and look to imitate the successes of defensive coaching introduced at the start of this season at Newcastle United by Alan Pardew (I have it on good authority from a Geordie fan that Pardew, from the outset, insisted on taking his defensive players off for separate training sessions to teach them how to work together as a defensive unit). Newcastle has a very impressive defensive record so far this season.

Second, raise the tempo of training Roy Keane style. Have the players back to being the fittest team in the Championship as was the case under [former fitness coach] Antonio Gomez. Make individual performances on the pitch matter by insisting that the training coaches run critical assessments of players’ match performances.

Third, regardless of diamond or any other formation, encourage and coach more pass and move close touch football. Bring the players to a state of confidence about being on the ball; not nervous and tentative, intent on an up-field punt. Equally, train more for the ‘get dirty’ work: run sessions where the purpose is to ensure that every lost ball (either by poor passing, or lost in possession) is won back. Have the midfield players work at tackling back and winning the ball!

Fourth, put some incentives into the mix. Not money or easy rewards. But arrange some team-building activities for the players. Get them talking to one another after training sessions and matches. No more JET or some of the others with ear phones on all the time. Let's see some real bonding and friendships for goodness sake. Want to play for each other. Respect one another. Have pride in playing for the club. Don’t have Michael Chopra types claiming they have too much time on their hands. They should live and breath football; if not, ship out because you do not have what it takes to be successful.

Beyond achieving a rebound, there is the need to rebuild. We often hear from the likes of the CEO that the club has a strategy. I am certain that a businessman of Marcus Evans’s stature has a business plan. But a strategy? Frankly, I don’t see it, and reading comments on this website I think that view is widely shared.

Many supporters would like to see more overt evidence of a plan to bring on youth players within the ‘Ipswich way’. Stop spending scarce money on expensive players on the wane. How sad that Mr Klug was handed his P45. Even now it is not too late, with Russell Osman in harness. I ask Paul Jewell to look seriously at blooding more of the youngsters once he has moved on the shirkers and non-committed.

By the way, have the players watch a video of the 2000 play-off final when Town beat Barnsley and get them to emulate that swashbuckling glory for the rest of the season, starting at Barnsley next Saturday.

Please report offensive, libellous or inappropriate posts by using the links provided.

Reus30 added 16:50 - Dec 5
Nice blog, but I assume this is the basic of management. You also fail to notice the set piece shambles that currently exist.

jas0999 added 17:13 - Dec 5
Only 30% calling for his head - in an EADT poll last week it was high 60's - and that was before this latest defeat! PJ needs to go - not just for this run, but many many thrashings before. There is no evidence that the guy can turn this around.

If ME and 'fans' are happy with loses and falling attendances then great. Luckily more and more people are not.


beazo123 added 17:23 - Dec 5
Brilliant blog highlighted everything about football thats bad not just our club. Not Jewell out, in Bobby's first season as manager we were very nearly releagted, but he got the to build and mould his squad into the great squad of 1981, give him time nothing is instant.

JustSpivvyChops added 18:50 - Dec 5
This piece is fairly basic, but accurate enough in what is purported. In truth, a large part of the blame for our woes can be attributed to the so called "fans" of ITFC, whether they think so, or not.

The board have to be strong in these trying times and really get behind the manager, the worst thing that could happen to ITFC, is to sack Paul Jewell and the people suggesting that is the correct course of action, are clearly mindless idiots.

PJ_Needs_Duncan added 19:18 - Dec 5
Jewell Out!

Even the Norfolk folk are taking the p*ss now and news usually takes at least a decade to reach them. We are a huge laughing stock and they only have two cups. One of them they made for themselves... thats like giving yourself a nickname at school. Come on people see the light before its too late.

"Jewell Out for One and Jewell Out For All"

tomisamos added 02:07 - Dec 6
I can just imagine jas reading up until the 30% of this article, pulling out the fact book and neglecting the rest of what is a really well constructed and reasoned argument. I agree, it's time we showed this lot what sort of club we want Ipswich to be, we have the players, we just need to get them working into the right direction.

piersmorganisatool added 06:41 - Dec 6
excellent blog. at last someone with a rational line of thought. i hate to see us this way too, but sacking PJ is not the answer, it goes further than that, our club needs to look at itself as a whole, long and hard.

Vic added 08:54 - Dec 6
I agree with much of what you say.

Jewell certainly should not be sacked at the moment; the situation is serious but not beyond turning round. There is no real current evidence that the manager has lost the confidence of the players so he needs time to continue to build on what he's started. However, if in two months time the tail spin is not arrested then we have to think again.

There is also need for the strategy and plan within the club to be made know to the fans. I'm quite sure that since PJ & Clegg keep emphasising this is a long term project there must be a strategy in place - but the fact is that they just haven't made it clear to us supporters. Come on ITFC, get it in writing and out into the open and then keep emphasising it. Give us something concrete to get behind, not just the vague but obvious notion that we want to be promoted!

What you don't answer is why the players are making mistakes, why are they not doing in the matches what they practice at Playford road. That to me is the worrying thing! Why have good and seasoned professionals gone of the boil so much? And why have the coaching staff either not identified or rectified the causes? This is my concern and why I (and I guess ME) am just starting to be a bit concerned about PJ's ability. I believe that he is a good manager and a good manager for ITFC - I think he's picked up and continues the culture of our club (something RK very deliberately didn't do - in fact he railed against it). But sometimes it just doesn't work out - I hope this is not one of those situations.

BlueMeAway added 09:31 - Dec 6
If Jewell does not know all this by now, then jewell out.

rugbytomc added 10:26 - Dec 6
Awful blog - what exactly was your message to Marcus Evans there? You say don't sack Jewell - but then your steps to rectify things were all issues the manager is responsible for - bringing in players/selling players, coaching, team building, team style of play! Has he not had long enough to implement those things and make those changes?!
Whoever compared him to Sir has made a poor comparison. Yes some managers have struggled in their first year then gone on to be great successes - but those managers were in their infancy and learning - they weren't coming into the job with the experience that Jewell has. He doesn't warrant being given as much time as a younger manager should be - like Magilton was, Burley, Robson, or Ferguson at Old Trafford. Also - he has already come out and said it's the players fault - straight away that is the dressing room gone as they know any success will be because of him and all failure blamed on them - the very same players he so recently brought in.
I'm sorry - but calling for Jewell is not the act of a mindless idiot - it is the same people who were astute enough and educated enough to realise that he shouldn't have been given the job in the first place.
If Marcus Evans bought Ipswich for more than just making a fast buck or to raise the profile of his other businesses - then he needs to buy into our history and what this club is all about - trying to play football by creating a team ethos, trusting in youth - both in players and management - and building from the bottom up - not trying to bring in a load of quick fixes of past it players looking for a last pay day.


Vic added 12:14 - Dec 6
Rugbytomc - If I quote you correctly you say of Mr Evans "he needs to buy into our history and what this club is all about - trying to play football by creating a team ethos, trusting in youth - both in players and management - and building from the bottom up - not trying to bring in a load of quick fixes of past it players looking for a last pay day."

I believe that with PJ as manager we have someone who very much gets the clubs ethos - he coaches the players to play passing football, he puts great store by the academy, (he's got in a new coach, he watches them and we can see that he actively promotes those he thinks are good enough - eg whight and lawrence, carson.).

I think most of us knew there was deadwood in the club and he cleared it out. Sure the old boys were a short term stop gap - he knows that and we know it, but it was necessary to get the foundations and stability at the club. I don't know what else he can say that will convince people that he sees the future as being youth - he's brought in and charged scouts to unearth them, he's recently taken a very young and raw local lad from north of the county on for a trial, he's repeatedly said that his transfer targets are young players. OK, so results are appalling at the moment, but to accuse him and the owner of not valuing youth, the academy and playing poor football is just not true.


rugbytomc added 09:32 - Dec 7
Vic - i think you're in a minority of 1 with your view that Jewell and Evans are investing in youth! Carson has been used sparringly this season, even when the team has been crying out for his pace. Lawrence is 15 and played as a sub in a carling cup tie which we lost and hasn't looked close to the first team since. Whight has played how many times for the first team despite our defence being poor?
You probably should have waited a day as well, because Jewell did not watch the U-18s yesterday, albeit to scope out his opponents. Hmm - Jewell not in presence, victory at Portman Road.
What deadwood did he clear out exactly? Norris? McAuley?!
I appreciate that you, like me, want Ipswich to do well and improve, but i think having a younger manager, full of hunger and drive, who brings in players with that hunger also, would be of more benefit to the club.
Our main weaknesses are right back, central defence, wings. Jewell brought in 3 central midfielders.
Your point again about him getting new scouts in - brilliant, but only confirms that he doesn't have it in him to motivate this group of players to play to the best of thier abilities, because if he did, we would be pushing top 6, not bottom 4.
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