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14 May 2007 16:24
Paul Jewell resigned as manager of Wigan Athletic, the club said on Monday, less than 24 hours after steering them to Premier League survival.
Millionaire chairperson Dave Whelan was due to hold a news conference later on Monday when a replacement for the 42-year-old Jewell was expected to be announced.
Wigan survived a fraught final day of the season, gaining the victory they needed to stay up when they beat Sheffield United 2-1 away. United went down on goal difference along with Watford and Charlton Athletic.
Monday’s announcement brings to an end a golden era in the history of a football club that has always lived in the shadow of the town’s rugby league team.
With a dream of taking Wigan to the Premier League, Whelan, owner of sports retailing giants JJB, hired former Wigan player Jewell in 2001 with the club languishing in the third division.
Jewell’s first season in charge ended in a 10th-place finish but they romped to the title with 100 points the following season to reach the second division.
After narrowly missing the play-offs at the end of the 2003/04 season, Jewell took the club to automatic promotion to the Premier League the season after.
In the club’s first season in the top flight, Wigan defied the sceptics who tipped an immediate return to the second division by finishing 10th and reaching the League Cup final.
A terrible slump in form this season, however, left them staring relegation in the face before they snatched a dramatic 2-1 victory at Sheffield United thanks to a David Unsworth penalty.
Jewell has a track record of over-achievement with so-called smaller clubs.
In 1999 he got Bradford City into the Premier League where they also pulled off a remarkable last-day escape from relegation with a 1-0 win at Liverpool.
Jewell resigned as Bradford manager shortly afterwards and took over at debt-ridden Sheffield Wednesday where he lasted just eight months before being sacked in 2001.
After taking his managerial skills to Wigan, where he made 137 appearances in the mid-1980s, Jewell compiled a record of 127 wins and 90 defeats from 291 matches in charge.
With his reputation enhanced by six successful years at the JJB stadium, Jewell will be in the frame for any high-profile vacancies that arise in the close season.
Manchester City is a possible destination should they part company with under-pressure Stuart Pearce.—Reuters
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