Jewell lands on his feet at Ipswich
Portman Road, Ipswich
I cannot help wondering whether Ipswich fans were given a glimpse of the future at Portman Road on Wednesday evening or if it was just a brief and fleeting vision of heights that they will not scale again any time soon.
Without question, the Tractor Boys deserved their 1-0 victory over Arsenal in the first leg of their Carling Cup semi-final. The home team played with guts and determination in front of a crowd that responded by backing their team with a passion to match that shown on the field. You could almost sense the self-belief surging through the stands at a stadium sold out for the time in close on a decade.
Tamas Priskin struck the only goal of the tie 12 minutes from the end, prompting wild scenes of joy and jubilation - and ensuring that Ipswich will travel for the return leg at the Emirates with a lead to defend.
Watching from the stands was new Ipswich manager Paul Jewell, who will meet his squad for the first time at training on Thursday morning. Jewell's task is ultimately to bring Premier League football back to Portman Road and ensure that nights like Wednesday are commonplace ,not rare events.
The 46-year-old made a brief foray on to the pitch before the match and was given a generous round of applause from the home fans but it would be understandable if there were reservations about his appointment. The Liverpudian's managerial record is truly black and white. Success or failure. There is no middle ground on his CV.
Jewell won promotion to the Premier League with both Bradford and Wigan. He also kept them there, winning a crucial final-day fixture with each club to secure survival.
Jewell managed Wigan from 2001 until 2007, taking them not only from League One to the top flight but also to the 2006 Carling Cup final. He so impressed owner Dave Whelan that he was offered a job for life. Months after his eventual departure, he also turned down a huge offer to the return to the Lancashire club.
Jewell's record at Wigan and Bradford was a major factor in the decision of Ipswich owner Marcus Evans to employ him. Both Jim Magilton and Roy Keane, the club's two previous managers, were relatively inexperienced, so Evans, who took control at Ipswich in December 2007, decided it was time for a man with a proven track record and a history of promotion to the Premier League.
Intriguingly, Evans explained in an interview published in Wednesday's match programme that Jewell's managerial failures were also crucial to his appointment.
"I wanted a manager who had experienced lows as well as highs, which in turn, in my opinion, makes them understand better the reason for their successes," added the Town owner, who pointed to Tony Pulis, Harry Redknapp, Ian Holloway and Steve Bruce as top-flight managers who have returned stronger after failure.
Jewell has certainly experienced failure. He lasted eight months at Sheffield Wednesday before he was sacked in February 2001 with a record of just 12 wins in 38 games. In Jewell's mitigation, he took over the club during a difficult period, following the Owls relegation from the Premier League and at a time when they were having to cut costs.
Much more disappointing was his 13-month spell in charge at Derby County. His tenure there became a masterclass in failure. He took over at November 2007 with the team struggling at the bottom of the Premier League. The Rams failed to win a league game during the remainder of the season, ending the campaign on an all-time low of 11 points.
Everything Jewell did seemed to go wrong. For example, he brought in Robbie Savage to add experience and know-how but the midfielder was eventually loaned out to League One Brighton. Defender Tyrone Mears was rumoured to be so desperate to leave for Marseille that he sneaked past Jewell's office to collect his boots before meeting officials from the French club in secret.
Jewell promised to repay the pain of relegation with promotion the following season. He changed the squad numbers around as a symbol of a fresh start and brought in new faces such as Rob Hulse and Kris Commons. However, the slump continued. A proud man, Jewell resigned in December 2008 after a 1-0 defeat against Ipswich and with the club 18th in the Championship. The previous 12 months, said Jewell, had been the worst of his life.
Jewell had been out of management for more than two years before his appointment at Ipswich but is adamant that he has used his time constructively to ensure that he is equipped to succeed in Suffolk.
"I have been to Spain and Italy to watch teams train," he said in Wednesday's match programme. "I've been to America to study how it works in the NFL. Just to add to my coaching education.
"I had four or five offers but they did not get my juices flowing like the job here so it was great when the call came. I am just bursting to get out there on the training pitch."
Evans had an initial shortlist of 12 names, with former Norwich boss Gary Megson apparently a strong candidate. The Ipswich owner consulted trusted sources before whittling his list down to five prospective new managers, with Jewell interviewed on Sunday before his official appointment on Monday.
On the face of it, Jewell has chosen an excellent club with which to make his return to management. Some might argue that, given the scale of his failure at Derby, he is lucky to have found employment at a club with such obvious potential.
Ipswich are financially stable, with a proud history and excellent facilities. Predecessor Roy Keane constantly chopped and changed his starting XI but Town do possess some excellent players, including the talented 17-year-old Connor Wickham. The club has promised to support Jewell in the transfer market and made it clear that the modest and very achievable target for the remainder of the season is to avoid relegation. After Wednesday, Jewell also takes over at a club that is 90 minutes from a major final.
Ipswich do have serious problems, though. They might have beaten Arsenal on Wednesday but they were thrashed 7-0 at Chelsea in the FA Cup on Sunday. Confidence remains fragile. They are 19th in the Championship and sit only three points from the relegation zone. They have lost eight of their last 12 fixtures.
"We will start on Thursday from scratch," said Jewell. "We will try and get everyone together, try and get them in the frame of mind that when they get up in the morning they really look forward to going to work."
The new manager needs to work out his best XI quickly and assess who he wants to bolster his squad ahead of the second half of the campaign. He must decide whether previously out-of-favour players such as Lee Martin should be brought back from loan spells elsewhere. He will also bring in his own backroom staff, with caretaker boss Ian McParland leaving the club.
And nobody could accuse Jewell of failing to bring a positive outlook to his new role.
"Over the last three years, the clubs that have finished sixth have got between 70 and 74 points," added the former Bradford and Wigan striker. "That means we have to get 42 points from 22 games, two points a game. I'm not writing anything off. It's a long-term process but I'm here to try to bring success to Ipswich."
I heard some Ipswich fans talking on the train to London after Wednesday's match. They were discussing Jewell's record of managing in the top flight, correctly pointing out he had resigned at both Bradford and Wigan after ensuring their Premier League survival.
Whether Ipswich ever make it to the top flight depends on which Jewell turns up at Ipswich. The one who engineered success at Bradford and Wigan - or the one who flopped at Sheffield Wednesday and Derby.