With the big game against Bradford City in the Capital One Cup, fourth round looming, perhaps it is an opportune time to look back at arguably one of the greatest servants that both clubs ever had!
Paul Jewell was signed by Harry McNally from Liverpool in December 1984. He made his Latics League debut on 22nd December 1984 against Rotherham United at Millmoor in a game that resulted in a 3-3 draw. The highlight of his Latics playing career was being in the team that won the inaugural Freight Rover Trophy at Wembley.
He stayed at Springfield Park for four years before joining Bradford City for £80,000 at the start of season 1988/89. Paul played a total of 117+20 League appearances for the Blues and he scored 35 League goals in the process.
The fee paid to Latics by the Bantams was repaid beyond even their wildest imaginations when he led Bradford into the Premier League at the end of the 1998/99 season and then kept them there at the end of the following season. As as City player he spent a decade at the club scoring 56 league goals in 269 appearances, but his managerial achievements at Valley Parade will live long in the memories of all Bantams supporters.
After an unsuccessful period as boss of debt ridden Sheffield Wednesday, where his brief was solely to reduce their massive wage bill, he became only the second former Latics Football League player to manage the club at the start of season 2001/02. By the end of the following 2002/03 season he had led Latics to the Second Division Championship, breaking 16 club records in the process, which meant the Blues were in the First Division for the first time in their history. He was the club’s most successful manager ever and the points total of 100 at the end of the campaign is still the club record total to this date.
He became a Latics legend two years later when he led Latics into the Premiership after his team finished runners up to Sunderland in the Championship. His managerial record going into the Premiership was,
P 194, W 92, D 58, L 38, F 273, A 155, Pts 332
Incredibly the first season of top flight football saw the club comfortably stay in the division and Latics also reached their first ever major Cup Final. Sadly the League Cup Final, played at the Millennium Stadium was lost 0-4 at the hands of Manchester United.
On 14th May 2007 he resigned as manager of Latics, just 24 hours after a last day victory against Sheffield United at Bramall Lane that kept Latics in the Premiership. His replacement was Chris Hutchings who was appointed later the same day.
On leaving the JJB Stadium Jewell was linked with the managerial vacancy at Leicester City and a return to Latics as Chris Hutchings was sacked just three months after replacing Jewell! He was also linked with the Republic of Ireland managerial jonb and then on 28th November 2007 he was installed as the manager of Derby County following the sacking of Billy Davies.
Ironically, his 16th game as Derby manager came at the JJB Stadium on 23rd February 2008 and a 2–0 defeat set a Rams’ club record of 21 league games without victory! They were relegated from the Premier League in May 2008 with a record low of 11 points.
However, by the end of 2008 he was sacked following a defeat against Ipswich Town which rooted the Rams to the foot of the Championship table.
It was Ipswich Town who brought Jewell back into the game on 10th January 2011 when he replaced caretaker manager Ian McParland. Once again though he met with failure and he was relived of his duties last week.
It is for his exploits at Bradford City and Wigan Athletic that he will probably be remembered most. Taking two highly unfashionable clubs to the top flight of the game, and what’s more, keeping them there.
TNS wish Paul all the very best for the future and thank him for what he did for our club.