May 26 2013 Latest news:
Friday, June 22, 2012
PAUL Jewell knows he will never be able to sign every one of his top targets.
IPSWICH Town remains an attractive place to play football.
The league table might currently suggest an average Championship side, but the facilities smack of the Premier League.
The training ground is one of the best in the league. And while Portman Road might not be the newest ground, it still ranks highly as a fine place to play football – occasionally to the detriment of Ipswich themselves, according to managers past and present.
On the pitch, Paul Jewell’s side has potential, at times last season looking more like a top-six team than the 15th they found themselves after the last ball had been kicked.
The likes of Michael Chopra, Jay Emmanuel-Thomas and Araon Cresswell suggest the team is heading in the right direction, even though a few more additions are crucial.
Then there is Paul Jewell, one of only a handful of managers to get promoted to the Premier League with different clubs. He has tough spells on his CV, but Jewell knows how to get out of the Championship.
That is a huge selling point for players, as the comments of Elliott Hewitt testify.
Thanks to Marcus Evans, the club is on a sound financial footing compared to many and Jewell’s assertion that “young and hungry” new additions are his way forward can only be welcomed – as seen by the reaction to the signing of Hewitt.
However frustrating the last few weeks have been, and the fact more clubs in the Championship are starting to flex their muscles, the summer transfer market still has two months left.
Right now, it is concerning but things can change very quickly. The right centre-back brought in, the right new keeper and suddenly the mood would be very different going into the new season.
Now it is up to Jewell, as well as Simon Clegg and Marcus Evans, to prove the doubters wrong and show that Portman Road is still a great place to play football.
But with 18-year-old Elliott Hewitt his only purchase thus far and rival clubs starting to bolster their ranks, some supporters have already become resigned to an underwhelming summer spree.
DAVE GOODERHAM looks at the reasons why Messrs Pearce, Ward and Kuszczak might have gone elsewhere.
The Financial Fair Play rules might have seen Ipswich, among others, look to cut their cloth accordingly. But that doesn’t mean there is no money in the Championship. While Town are looking to reduce wage bills and make players’ earn their lucrative contracts, others are eyeing a financially-backed push for the Premier League. Jewell has spoken in the past of how he won’t be held to ransom when it comes to wages or transfer fees and that he doesn’t want players who appear to put money ahead of all else. Alongside that, the sheer wealth of Town’s reclusive owner Marcus Evans probably doesn’t help the impression that Ipswich are one of the league’s big-payers. A tricky obstacle when it comes to dealing with agents.
Location, location, location
Jewell enjoys Suffolk life and living in the county. But he is quick to admit that Ipswich is not the best location when it comes to scouting matches. Whether this radiates into players looking to decide where to sign is open to debate. Some will crave the quieter lifestyle Suffolk brings, Aaron Cresswell and Jay Emmanuel-Thomas, right, are two who have proclaimed their love of the county. But the location, despite being just an hour from the capital, might put people off. Harsh, but sadly true.
Ambition and potential
Arguably the most worrying of all the potential reasons explaining why players turn their back on a move to Town – they see their chances of achieving Premier League football are better suited elsewhere. Take Tomasz Kuszczak for example. It would have depressed Blues fans to think that Brighton was a more attractive proposition – the Seagulls are highly unlikely to have been higher payers – but that is how the ex-Manchester United keeper viewed it. He said: “I have played Premier League football for eight years and I believe the structure is in place here to join them. The manager and coaching staff, the team, stadium, crowds, through to the plans for the new training ground, everything is geared up for playing at the highest level and I could sense that ambition to be a top club straight away. The way Brighton play is the future of football. I had other clubs who wanted to sign me but my heart told me that this was the right choice.”
Stats don’t lie
Some blue-tinted Town fans might see themselves as a Premier League club-in-waiting, but the stats tell a different story. Quite simply, Ipswich are currently the 15th best side in the second tier of English football. Throw in the fact at least two of the relegated teams are anticipating an instant Premier League return and that all of the League One new boys are targeting the top half, and it is set to be an even tougher Championship. Players will look at which team gives them their best chance of playing Premier League football, hence why Keith Andrews is said to be interested in a move to Bolton. Currently, Ipswich have a tough task offering those assurances.
Powers of persuasion
Jewell believes if he can get players to Suffolk and show them round the ground and training facilities, he has half a chance. With so many clubs sniffing around the same players, and less money being thrown at wages, the powers of persuasion have never been so important. Jewell needs to prove to targets that they will be paid well according to success and that success can be achieved at Portman Road. It is a tough task – one that might determine what 2012/13 has in store for Town fans.