When West Bromwich Albion dispensed with the services of Alan Irvine, just before the turn of the year, they wasted precious little time in appointing Tony Pulis as their new manager. The former Stoke City and Crystal Palace boss was bound to be in demand about this time of the season as chairmen of struggling sides sought salvation with the man who transformed Palace’s fortunes last season. If, after two successive victories under Pulis however, Baggies fans thought that all would be sweetness and light under the new regime, the rapid exit of Paul Jewell from Pulis’s entourage will have quickly disavowed them of such a belief.
Very quickly after arriving in the Hawthorns hot seat, Pulis cleared away the existing coaching staff of Rob Kelly, Keith Downing and Dean Kiely, clearly illustrating that the board had acquiesced to him bringing in his own backroom staff. The following day the club appointed Pulis’s long-time lieutenant Dave Kemp and former Wigan, Derby and Ipswich manager, Paul Jewell.
For a manager who tends to trust in his known quantities with regards to assistants, and given that he hadn’t worked in a managerial post since leaving Ipswich by mutual consent in 2012, the appointment of Jewell did seem a little ‘left-field.’ When questioned however, Pulis stated that, “Jewelly is someone I have known for a long time. When I thought about what I wanted for this post, he fitted the bill perfectly.” Clearly, this was no knee jerk appointment therefore. All of which adds to the intrigue surrounding Jewell’s exit from the club a week later.
A fairly bland statement on the club’s website suggests that Jewell decided that “he will not be continuing his recent assistance on a more formal basis”. The information being buried in an article describing the arrival of another of the Pulis-set, Gerry Francis – but more of that later. If the club is seeking to present the exit as a decision not to formalise a fairly ad hoc situation, it seems that Jewell himself sees it somewhat differently. This was made clear when he announced that his exit “was not by mutual consent and it is in the hands of my lawyer. I will not be making any further comment at this stage.”
With Francis now on board, after apparently serving on an unofficial basis for a short period, it’s not entirely surprising that rumours abound linking the two events. With both the club and Jewell remaining tight-lipped, other than hinting at alternative realities, there’s little to counter a fairly widespread rumour that Jewell was asked to take a pay cut to accommodate Francis’s arrival, and his decision to quit the club arose from his refusal to do so.
Francis however seems keen to distance himself from any relationship with the controversy. Speaking to Sky Sports, when asked about Jewell, he said that, “I’ve no idea. He was there Saturday, I was there Saturday at the game … I don’t really know what the situation is from that point of view. I only found out myself last night.”
Whether the full story ever emerges is something that will only be decided over time. It may well be that some kind of agreement is agreed between the parties where confidentiality is required. It’s often the case in such matters. Regardless of that however, it’s likely that Pulis will feel more comfortable amongst his regulars once more and, in the long run, that can probably only portend good things for the club.
Pulis has said that the “insight and experience of the very highest levels of our game” offered by Francis were reasons behind his appointment. In reply, the former England captain declared that “I’ve been there since the Gateshead game, been there for some time now. It was just really deciding whether I was going to do what I did at Crystal Palace and at Stoke for Tony, the same sort of part-time deal, and get back to the travelling again. Obviously I’ve agreed to do that now.” Then, addressing a query as to what his duties were, Francis said, “Everything really – coaching two days a week and obviously all the games – doing very similar to what I did at Crystal Palace and Stoke.”
For Baggies fans, the security that the Pulis team achieved at Stoke, and the turnaround managed at Palace last season, will do just nicely. If that’s achieved, very few will spare a thought for Paul Jewell and his brief tenure in the Black Country. Whilst Pulis works on polishing his squad however, it’s likely that his former assistant will probably have a not inconsiderable amount of cash to keep him happy.
(This All Blue Daze article was originally produced for ‘theaspirer’ website).