You might not have expected it to come so soon but surely you weren’t surprised by today’s news that Paul Jewell has left his post as Wigan Athletic manager. The writing has been on the wall for months as the pressure increased and his relationship with the fans became increasingly more fractious. Some of you will be glad to see him go, but twice as many will be bemoaning the departure of the man who took a side that couldn’t be bothered to beat a non-league team in the cup to one that, albeit briefly, lived the highlife at the top end of the Premier League.
It’s been a hard year for Paul Jewell, he over saw the departure of his main men, struggled to replace them and then when he finally had a squad he believed was better than his last had to sit and watch whilst the bunch of feckless fops tore up pretty much everything good he’d built up around his team.
At times this season he’s looked a beaten man, lost and helpless to turn around the tide of mediocrity that was washing away his sand castle. When his players did manage to string anything together they were inevitably thwarted by bad luck, poor decisions or their own stupidity. In the face of that he became clearly frustrated lashing out at pretty much anything that caught his eye. Other clubs, referees, the press and even the fans came in for stick this season, the only protection available was being part of his circle, someone employed by the club.
And so it came to pass that when the fans wanted changes, when they needed the Jewell of old to tell them a couple of one liners and that everything will be alright, they got dad’s army and an increasingly erratic, strangely dour and rapidly aging man, who seemed to be desperately seeking the exit. Of course Jewell was eventually proved right (sort of) but it would have been nice to have some fun along the way.
It’s not right that Jewell should be remembered for this season alone, when you consider the Canvey Island debacle, it’s possibly not even his low point. His departure should be about what he achieved, not where he fell down. Following the first half of Whelan’s reign at the club it was hard to imagine that any man had it in him to work with the chairman, let alone make a success of the relationship, but a success it was.
Many laughed at Chairman Dave’s ten year plan, but Paul Jewell was the man who made it a reality. If this year has been a disappointment it’s because he raised the bar. If you feel your expectations weren’t matched, remember who gave them to you.
In the end it was just all a bridge too far. Only time will tell whether it was too far for the manager, the club or both together. He’s right that the relationship had gone as far as it could if we’d stayed together any longer we could have ended up hating each other. It’s better that he left now when we can still split up the CD collection amicably.
When you remember Paul Jewell remember the good times not the bad. This season may have been dire but there were five more before it. For every poor performance there’s been a night to remember. For every side swipe at the fans there’s been a page full of witty ripostes.
When you remember Paul Jewell think of Huddersfield away not West Ham at home; of West Brom, Man City and Arsenal in the cup not the humiliation at Cardiff; of 100 points and top of the league not 26 points lost and a relegation battle; of sticking it to the Premier League not losing to the big boys; of one of us taking the piss not the man on the edge
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