Richard Sutcliffe: Rejuvenated Jewell ready to provide some welcome light relief

Forget player sales, January this year has been a month for managerial upheaval.

We have not even reached the halfway point of the month yet but already nine managers have left their post, the overwhelming majority not doing so of their own free will.

Just this past week, Roy Hodgson was sacked by Liverpool and Gary Johnson called time on his stay at Peterborough United despite having only been at London Road for eight or so months.

More changes are likely to follow with Avram Grant, in particular, surely fearing a request to pop along to the Upton Park boardroom every time the telephone rings.

Amid all the chaos, however, there has at least been one welcome development – the return to management of Paul Jewell.

Out of the game for a little over two years since a nightmare stint at Derby County, the 46-year-old was unveiled as Roy Keane's successor at Ipswich Town on Monday.

It was a happy turn of events, my fear during the past 25 months being that Jewell's exile may eventually become permanent as such a length of time out can all to easily lead to someone becoming the forgotten man.

Initially, his sabbatical was a self-imposed one courtesy of a desire to recharge the batteries with travel and playing plenty of golf. The lifestyle clearly suited, as was evident when I bumped into Jewell at Valley Parade before City's game against Port Vale last September.

Gone was the haunted expression of his final days at Pride Park to be replaced by the relaxed, wise-cracking Paul Jewell I had got to know so well when covering the Bantams for the local evening newspaper.

As this season wore on, however, it became increasingly clear from the gentle ribbing he was receiving off fellow members of Sky's Soccer Saturday team that Jewell was seeking a return.

The hold-up was a desire to wait for the right opportunity to come along, history having taught Jewell that taking charge of a club with major problems as he did when quitting Bradford in 2000 to take over at newly-relegated Sheffield Wednesday can make life nigh on impossible.

Hence, his decision this week to accept the challenge of succeeding Keane at Portman Road.

Whether Jewell can recreate in Suffolk the success he enjoyed at Bradford and Wigan remains to be seen, though the portents are good with the Ipswich board likely to afford him the kind of financial backing that helped bring Premier League football to both Valley Parade and the JJB Stadium.

As proved by Wednesday's win over Arsenal in the Carling Cup, Ipswich also boast a squad with plenty of potential and a couple of tweaks in the transfer window could yet bring a push for promotion in the final few months of the season.

On a personal level, I am just glad to see him back as the two-and-a-half years he spent in charge of Bradford are ones I treasure.

Not only did City enjoy their most successful spell in living memory but there were so many laughs along the way that it was hard to describe reporting on the club as 'work'.

Most of these centred round Jewell, whose wisecracks quickly became the stuff of legend – one of my favourites being his response to being asked at a post-match press conference if City were interested in Newcastle's Lionel Perez: "There's more chance of me signing Lionel Blair than him."

The press didn't escape, either, as proved by the barbed comment of, 'That reminds me, I forgot to put the milk out' as an untanned yours truly walked past the pool five days into City's pre-season trip of the Caribbean.

A chance to laugh at himself was rarely passed up either, enjoying almost as much as his players the irony of the pre-match instruction of 'I want no yellow cards or dismissals' ahead of a friendly game in the Macedonian capital of Skopje that saw the Bradford manager sent off for elbowing.

Welcome back, Paul Jewell.

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