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Jewell Dismisses Sharp Bid Claims But Reveals New Scouts at Supporters Club AGM
Jewell Dismisses Sharp Bid Claims But Reveals New Scouts at Supporters Club AGM
Thursday, 3rd Nov 2011 02:25

Town boss Paul Jewell dismissed claims that he has made a new offer to Doncaster Rovers for striker Billy Sharp at Wednesday evening’s Supporters Club AGM. However, the Blues manager, who watched Sharp net for Saturday’s opponents as they lost 3-1 to Middlesbrough on Tuesday, revealed that he has added two new full-time scouts to his staff.

Asked if he was looking at signing Sharp, Jewell said: “I saw him last night. I was at their game last night, so I was definitely looking at him!

“I don’t think it’s any secret that we bid for Billy Sharp in the summer, him and Coppinger. We made an offer to Doncaster for them, but it didn’t happen for whatever reason. But there are plenty of players that we’ve bid for and it hasn’t happen.

“We haven’t made another bid for him but what I would say is what I say to the press every week - we’re always trying to improve our squad and are looking for better players than we’ve got.”

Jewell and chief executive Simon Clegg took questions from fans at the meeting in Legends at Portman Road and were joined by coach Sean McCarthy, who is also the manager’s house-mate in Dedham, who watched proceedings from the audience.

The first question from the floor concerned replica shirts and their perceived lack of shape and style, and their unsuitability for being worn away from football.

Clegg explained that the shirts are designed by the club’s retail department and the manufacturer before going to the manager and the owner for their input.

The chief executive says feedback from fans has shown it’s important that shirts are identical replicas of the team kit rather than near copies. However, meeting the functional needs of the players is the biggest concern when they are designed.

Jewell’s first question concerned his decision to rest players for the Carling Cup match against Northampton, particularly striker Michael Chopra.

The Blues boss admitted that he has subsequently questioned whether he might have made an error: “With hindsight, I’ve asked myself whether we played the wrong team against Northampton.

“But if he’d have played in that game and got injured, you’d probably have said ‘why did you play Chopra?’. You’re damned if you do, you’re damned if you don’t.”

Jewell said he made the changes with plenty of league games following soon afterwards. He felt the team he fielded was well capable of winning the game.

The questions moved to the subject of scouting for players. Asked whether Sam Baldock, who moved from the MK Dons to West Ham in the summer, was ever on the club’s radar, the Town manager said he had been, but admitted that it’s difficult for the Blues to compete with the likes of the Hammers.

Jewell revealed that the club has made changes on that front in recent days: “We’ve added two full-time scouts to our network, which gives us four full-time scouts, which is as many as any Championship, if not Premier League, team has got, as well as three or four part-time scouts. I think recruitment is everything in football.”

The names of the new appointments, who are joining chief scout Steve McCall and David Hamilton in the search for new talent, will be announced later today.

The Blues boss cited Aaron Cresswell as the type of player he is targeting: “When I’m looking at our scouting network and the way forward for us, I think there have to be some young, hungry players out there playing at a low level who, when they come to Ipswich, it’s the biggest thing in their football lives.

“I’m not saying we’re just targeting the lower leagues, but I definitely think there are gems out there that we can try and unearth to bring to a club like Ipswich, as well as the experienced players.”

The discussion moved on to the changes in the academy system which were recently passed by the Football League. Clegg admitted that at present the club is unsure what the effect will be on Town’s youth set-up and confirmed that the Blues voted against the proposals.

He said: “The simple answer is we don’t know. These have been pushed through by the Premier League and effectively have been forced on the Football League.

“The clubs voted on it at the meeting I was in at Walsall about 10 days ago. I have to say I wasn’t supportive, I don’t think the level of compensation is appropriate for the level of investment that clubs like ourselves are making.

“I think it’s clubs like Ipswich Town, who have a good track record of developing youth season after season, that potentially will be one of the losers in this. But we need to wait to see the detail.

“The good news is we will get additional funding over and above the £180,000 a year that we get at the moment - we’ll get about another £300,000 a year.

“What is unclear at the moment is the additional cost that we will have to bear to secure that additional funding. The devil is in the detail and the detail is yet to be shared with us fully.”

Clegg hopes the club will continue to pick up talented players and be able to show them and their parents that money isn’t the only thing which is important in youth development - it’s about providing the right environment to progress and give them opportunities in the first team.

Moving back to first team level, Clegg was asked if season ticket holders ought to be given some sort of benefit when the club runs their £10 ticket promotions.

The Blues chief executive says a lot of thought goes into ticket pricing and that the most cost-effective way of watching Town is via a season ticket and that is his priority.

He says the club kept season ticket prices frozen for four years up to this year and give additional priority to season ticket holders.

Clegg was asked about pricing in general. While accepting that fans would like to see cheaper tickets and that football is “very, very expensive”, he says it has to be realised that costs have grown year on year. Things like utilities and the “ground rent issue” all need to be paid for, while allowing the manager to build a competitive squad.

He admits that cost has had an effect on season ticket numbers: “We’ve seen a reduction in season ticket holders, in no small part because of the increase in price. It’s something that the club has to be, and is, very conscious of.”

Caolan Lavery’s situation was queried with Jewell revealing that the academy scholar has now told the club he’s moving on having turned down his contract: “His agent got back to me on Monday and said that they have refused Caolan’s contract.

“Because we’ve offered him a contract we retain rights to compensation. He emailed [club secretary] Sally Webb today saying that there’s a League Two club that want to take him.

“While he was here I wanted to get him out to Rochdale on loan just to give him experience. In my view is that he’s put more credence on money rather than an opportunity.

“I’m a little bit disappointed in him. But he might tell you that a six-month contract offer is not what he wanted.”

Leicester and Spurs had previously been linked with the 19-year-old Canada-born Northern Ireland U21 international, while Aston Villa were also believed to be keeping an eye on his situation.

Jewell said he pointed his agent towards Aaron Cresswell’s rapid increase in wage as he has made progress at the club as an example of how Lavery’s time at Town might have developed. The Blues boss believes that giving players too much too soon doesn’t do them any favours.

The Town manager said he has considered not naming a goalkeeper on the bench now that substitute numbers have been reduced to five but fully expects his number one to be red-carded if he does it.

Jewell recalled his first match in charge of Sheffield Wednesday in 2000 when keeper Kevin Pressman was sent off after 13 seconds in a 1-1 draw with Wolves.

He says he might consider doing so in an “all or nothing match” but generally he feels it would leave the side “too open”.

The Blues boss believes "high tempo" reserve friendlies like Tuesday’s against Arsenal and next Monday’s at Tottenham are a much better work-out than the Football Combination, which he says isn’t as good as it used to be and also often requires three hours’ travelling.

Jewell would love to get young players such as Ronan Murray and Luke Hyam out on loan as he feels it would benefit them to play first team football rather than in the reserves. He admits that he finds it hard to find clubs for the youngsters because teams all want experienced players.

The Town manager said he's loving life at Portman Road: “It’s such a fantastic football club, such a family-orientated club. It’s got great facilities and great tradition, you only have to look around to see it.

“When you walk out of my office at the training ground I can see Sir Alf Ramsey looking at me, then there’s Sir Bobby Robson. Then there’s a space after that!”

Jewell says his long-term aim is to get the club in the Premier League but not necessarily this season, making progress being the most important thing with his current contract stretching to the end of 2012/13.

He says that his side is experienced and admits that it may be lacking in pace but he points out that the same was the case with the Bradford team he got promoted. What they had was stability from being a settled side.

The Town boss is not a fan of rotation, despite the Northampton match, although he says you can’t play the same team week after week, especially if results aren’t going well.

Although the last two results have been poor, he says it’s important not to lose sight of the long-term aims. He says those aims include bringing in younger players to augment the more experienced recruits.

Jewell wouldn’t be drawn on specific youngsters he saw making a breakthrough this season, saying that they develop at different speeds and sometimes one comes out of the pack unexpectedly.

He did, however, say Joe Whight had made “huge strides” during 2010/11 and praised the job coach Russell Osman is doing with the U18s.

He revealed that Josh Carson, who he said didn’t come back to pre-season in great shape, has trained “really, really well” recently and was in the squads for the last two matches but without making the final 16.

The Liverpudlian says the 18-year-old’s head might have been turned by his success last year but that he’s knuckled down in the last couple of months. Jewell confirmed that the club are trying to sort out a new contract so he remains at the club for “a couple more years and beyond”.

Jewell admitted that he isn’t convinced by the academy system: “I’m not 100% sure that academies always work because I sometimes think they make it a little bit comfortable for players. We want to give them the best facilities but also keep that hunger. It’s a hard thing to do.

“[Stoke manager]Tony Pulis calls them the ‘ac-kid-emy’,” he added. “I can see where he’s coming from. I think they’ve got a lot of good points but I think keeping them hungry is a key thing as well.”

Jewell said the hunger of players who can be found in the lower leagues is illustrated by the success of the likes of Southampton and Norwich in recent seasons.

Chief executive Clegg said Town have no need to sell anyone in January: “The club is in a position to say no to any offers on any players. We have no requirement to sell players. We are well financed and well supported by the owner.”

He reiterated that the club has no intention of moving away from Portman Road to an out of town stadium, but again said that Town would like to own the freehold on the land on which the stadium stands, briefly outlining the as-yet-unresolved spat with Ipswich Borough Council regarding the rent rise.

Jewell said he had no problem persuading the experienced players who joined this summer to sign once they’d seen Portman Road, the club’s facilities and the level of support.

The Town boss was asked what his first words were in the dressing room after the Peterborough game. “Unlucky,” he claimed rather unconvincingly. He admitted that the second half was the toughest of his footballing career.

Jewell says his side will finish where they deserve to finish at the end of the season and disagreed with the suggestion that the recent run of good form has “gone up in smoke”, although he admitted the last three games have been disappointing. He says the aim is to become more consistent.

Clegg was asked about the free travel offer to Blackpool after the Peterborough result with some regular away fans unhappy that it was offered after they had already made their plans to stay overnight in the North-West.

The chief executive felt the club needed to do something after Peterborough and that it was “about giving something back” and that it was “an appropriate gesture” but said it’s impossible to please everybody all of the time.

He said that normally the expectation is that Town would take two coaches to Blackpool and that they thought the offer might lead to another one. In the event there were 13 at £1500 each. He noted that Arsenal did something similar after their heavy defeat at Manchester United.

Jewell said he wants to Danny Collins to return on loan in January with his current spell up on December 10th. He also reiterated that he also wants to keep Keith Andrews.

Regarding the number of players who are out of contract next summer Jewell says it’s part of a rebuilding process and while it’s not easy to always please everyone, he hopes to keep hold of all his better players.

On that subject Clegg added: “Paul, the owner and myself are very clear on where we’re going. We don’t want to get into specifics regarding any individual, that would be inappropriate. We will be going through things in a timely manner to protect the interests of the football club.”

He says the club has to take a “strategic view” of when the right time is to offer contracts to the people Jewell - who says he is very hands-on regarding the recruitment and the retainment of players - wants to keep.

Jordan Rhodes’s name inevitably cropped up, with Clegg saying: “The policy is continues to be the same as it was before and that is that this club will back the manager.

“It’s the heavy burden on the manager to make those decisions and you look to your manager for footballing decisions. Jordan Rhodes is doing well in League One. Would he do well at this level? Who knows?”

Jewell says that when he watched Huddersfield, Rhodes wasn’t in the team with fellow ex-Blue Alan Lee starting alongside Lee Novak.

Regarding the 2009 sale of Rhodes, he says plenty of people will disagree with the decision to cash in on Connor Wickham this summer.

As the end approached, a startled Jewell was asked to name his favourite cheese. After a few moments’ thought he said it was Dolcelatte before Clegg corrected him, telling him it was Suffolk Blue.

Clegg said the club has been spoken to by the footballing authorities regarding fan conduct at games: “We have been approached both by the FA and the Football League regarding behaviour at matches. This isn’t particularly targeted at Town, indeed I hope it’s the converse.

“Do be aware there are challenges in terms of the way behaviour at football matches is going across the country at the moment.

“The Supporters Club showed some leadership on the issue earlier in the year. I don’t think we have a challenge at our club but we want to make sure we stay in that position and that we stay on the right side of the divide between banter and abuse.

“This will become an issue of focus both for the FA and the Football League going forward,” he added.

Clegg thanked the Supporters Club for their work over the last year: “Liz as the chairman and the Supporters Club do a fantastic job on behalf of all fans and quite a lot of initiatives, quite a lot of things we’re doing as a club come about as a direct result of the Supporters Club.“

Jewell ended by emphasising the importance of fans: “We don’t take your support lightly. We know how expensive it is.

“I understand that. I sold lemonade bottles when I was a kid to go and watch Liverpool. I’m just a working class lad, so I know how tough it is to support your team through the tough times as well the good.

“I appreciate your support. I hope I’m here for a long time and I’m really excited about the future.”

Earlier, in the evening the meeting’s business had seen chairman Elizabeth Edwards re-elected by a comfortable majority of the 70 or so present, along with the rest of the committee: Rita McKenzie, Steve Doe, Irene Davey, Paul Voller, Tammy Denny and Martin Swallow.

Edwards said most fans have backed the Supporters Club’s approach to the issue of terrace abuse: “We issued a statement at start of the season. Since then many other clubs have taken similar action and have stressed that racist, homophobic and abusive chanting and behaviour is not acceptable.

“We’ve had support from a huge number of fans thanking us for taking a stand. We’ve had some fans criticise us for doing so, though when I have responded to them most of them did agree that they would rather people were warned than banned.

“For those who were rather more abusive, I’m pleased to say the support I’ve had from the vast majority has been really important to me.

“The practical support I’ve received from the club and the police has also provided me with a type of support I never thought a loyal Town fan would ever need.

“When my Dad took me to my first game in the late sixties, I never thought that over 40 years later I’d be getting abuse from Town fans and warnings that I wouldn’t be welcome at matches.”

She says these issues are football’s not just Town’s: “This week Brighton have asked the FA to look into continuing problems of homophobic abuse at their games by opposition fans.

“Town fans weren’t listed as the worst offenders by the Brighton fans, but I did receive a number of complaints about homophobic chanting following our home game against Brighton and put those people in touch with the club.

“I’m pleased to see some of the discussions taking place around what is acceptable behaviour and an increased awareness of problems in our game means that fans are getting in touch when they feel uncomfortable about the behaviour of others.

“We will continue to work with the club and the police to make Ipswich the kind of club that we’re famous for being and are proud to support.”

Photo: Action Images

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SitfcB added 03:41 - Nov 3
Great write up Phil. Cheers.

The cheese bit made me LOL.

Garv added 04:52 - Nov 3
We can see you holding hands! Ha!

victorywilhappen added 05:11 - Nov 3
Thanks for the report Phil. Sounds like we have been missing some scouts. Any interest in the fan network or the international network? Look forward to the full story later today.

TheDalaiFarmer added 05:57 - Nov 3
What "racist" abuse? I haven't heard any racist abuse by Town fans in the last 40 years. Liz should explain what she means and give examples rather than making it up.

blueherts added 06:06 - Nov 3
Good work

Me thinks the PC poilce is running rampant at present and whilst in no way do i condone any racist abuse - and thankfully I have never heard any with our fans - the Brighton banter is just that - TERRACE HUMOUR , Come on - it is not 'abusive'

onlybluesandhorses added 07:10 - Nov 3
The homophobic chanting at the Brighton game was clear to all. At Millwall the references to Dale Farm were no better in my view. Perhaps the clearest example of the sort of chanting I would like to see come to an end was in the 4-0 loss to Newcastle "You're the only club that sacked him!". It was just nasty. It was not funny and it was not positive in any sense. Those indulging in this behaviour have no connection in my view with the Ipswich Town of Robson, Burley, Cobbold etc. In fact they disgrace its memory and culture. ITFC is a club known for its warm welcome and proper style of behaviour and play. At a time when we have no home grown players in the team and are run by an owner, CEO and manager with also no previous connection it is key that we respect and maintain the club's traditions. Otherwise it is all rather pointless.
A further issue is leaving early. At the Norwich and Millwall defeats there was a rush for the exists after 70/75 mins. At Millwall some left early but paused to abuse the Millwall fans on the way! If the players do not seem to give 100% fans complain but at the first sign of a heavy defeat they are off. Pathetic.

itfc1981 added 07:28 - Nov 3

“It’s the heavy burden on the manager to make those decisions and you look to your manager for footballing decisions. Jordan Rhodes is doing well in League One. Would he do well at this level? Who knows?”

Who knows! Everyone except you Clegg!


WarkyWonderLand added 07:39 - Nov 3
Great write up. There was more homophobic chanting by palace fans when they came down to PR.

Was anything said then?

Atmosphere at PR has been flat for so long and its nothing to do with results. The north stand were always the ones to generate noise and they are quiet too. There has always been banter at football matches and sometimes a minority over step the mark. Appears that the majority are now too scared to say anything which will end up with football matches just having polite pause like the theatre.

Far worse was said and done when standing in the north stand that's for sure and nothing was said.

Let's hear our voices and get behind jewells team.


Mark added 07:40 - Nov 3
I agree with everything Paul Jewell said, and most of what Simon Clegg said (although I do think the club could do more to reduce ticket prices and run ticket promotions). Well done to both of them for turning up to speak to fans like that.

arablue added 07:46 - Nov 3
A not so unfamiliar Francis Jeffers us now plying his trade at Newcastle Jets (A-League, Australia)...

Sindre94 added 08:57 - Nov 3
Great read Phil! Enjoyed every bit, and very well answered Paul and Simon.
I fully back you both, some fans just don't understand that theres important to have those expensive tickets, although its VERY expensive.

rtwb3 added 09:11 - Nov 3
Excellent write up Phil. Reflection of the times we live in (assuming football holds a mirror up to real life!) that traditional clubs need to be run like a business in order to exist. Knock on effect is on ticket prices and the nature in which academies are run and what the younger players expect in terms of a contract offer. If Lavery cant see the opportunities which are there and demonstrated by Cresswell's recent contract offer and Carson's approach to criticism then is he the type of player that epitomises the club?

Bleedingblue added 09:58 - Nov 3
rtwb3 - In answer to your question I would say no. Reckon he's probably been offered a two year deal by Crawley on a similar or slightly higher wage than we were prepared to offer.

Doctor_Albran added 10:02 - Nov 3
Dolcelatte and Suffolk Blue are awful - sack the (Cheese) Board!

TractorBeezer added 10:05 - Nov 3
It's very healthy for the club to communicate effectively with the supporters. Thanks for the thorugh and prompt report Phil. Great job!

pazelle added 10:05 - Nov 3
Good to hear that we've finally got some scouts!

And the cheese bit was funny - good work!

Seasider added 11:22 - Nov 3
Excellent and comprehensive report Phil.Well done!
As someone who had travelled from Clacton was disappointed that again apologies from Clacton branch officials.
Something that concerns me was PJ dismissing Academy,and this coupled with him expressing a desire to send out young players on loan;and the fact that on Saturday 8 of starting 11 were 30 or over with NONE under 25,suggests that he is not keen on blooding our own youngsters on the turf at Portman Rd.Perhaps you could mention this at press conference?
However our Manager is a witty and entertaining speaker and Bob and I felt that the journey was worthwhile.

exeterblu added 11:34 - Nov 3
Cheers for the report Phil :)

also, have to say that I am mightily impressed with Jewells choice of Cheese!

alfromcol added 12:18 - Nov 3
Thanks for the update Phil, excellent stuff.

blue_em_away added 12:49 - Nov 3
Good work Phil.

arablue....... What has your post got to do with anything?

Mark added 12:50 - Nov 3
Re. Rhodes - that was not Clegg's fault at all and he is right in what he said about backing the manager. Keane wanted to sell Rhodes and it would have been wrong for anyone to stand in his way. Most of us thought it was a crazy decision at the time though and have been proved right, and I fear Rhodes could haunt us for the next 10 years similar to how Kevin Phillips has done (after we missed out on him for around £300K when he was young). Decision making is a key part of football management, and history has shown Paul Jewell to be a good decision manager with an impressive hit rate of signing successful players over the years.

Re. academy, Jewell said they have good and bad points, the bad points being possibly allowing players to be in a comfort zone. He places a lot of emphasis on playing first team football in the "real world" and giving our youngsters loan experience in the lower leagues is the right thing to do. I am sure he would give youngsters the chance in our first team if they were ready, as he did Carson last season. He also sees a strategy of brining in young, hungry players from the lower leagues and I look forward to more of those sort of signings in future.

SouperJim added 12:51 - Nov 3
The Clegg-Edwards love in is interesting. Why are all concerned so apparently desperate to draw these battle lines within our support?

My concern is the total lack of representation of the middle ground. You'll find very few people who will disagree with the idea that abuse at football matches is unacceptable. However, I feel what the supporters club committee consider to be "abuse" and what the fanbase as a whole do are not the same thing. Shades of grey perhaps, but I again question if the supporters club committee are truely representative of town fans, or whether they just represent the very politically correct brigade. I would suggest that the way the supporters club operates means it attracts participation from quite a narrow slice of the fanbase and is therefore not representative of Town fans overall.

This is a major failing and I see nothing being done by the club to correct it, in fact I would go so far as to suggest that Clegg seems more than happy with the supporters club "crowd" and would rather maintain the status quo in order to further his own agenda, rather than have an entity within the club which is truely representative of the thoughts and feelings of the fanbase.

Personally I am still disgusted that, for whatever reason, a section of our fanbase was publicly told to "grow up or stay away" by the supporters club chair and that this statement continues to be backed and even celebrated by our chief executive.

TractorRoyNo1 added 12:56 - Nov 3
good report and i am pleased to find that Jewell has similar views to myself for the long term, it's just the short term that worries me

brockleyblueboy added 12:59 - Nov 3
Totally random and slightly out there but do you reckon Marcus Evans could fund some kind of drums or trumpets or something.

The noise level at PR has been terrible for sometimes. It is so embarrassing when pals come to watch a game of football and they end uop feeling like they are in a library.

if we had a band or somekind of cheer leader in each stand (the perverts of you out there chill out I was thiniing more like a load fecker to get the stands going, saying that some semi naked women could do)

But we need something, there is always a sense of nerves that no one wants to be the first to start chanting. It gets going a bit but just goes flat.

Can we start a campaign to "Bring the Noise Back to Portman Road" Even that disabled lad with the mega phone gives it a go, people laugh at him but why, he is just supporting the team.

COYB big win against donny rovers on Saturday please

Pendejo added 13:00 - Nov 3
Suffolk Blue is it?

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