ESSEX COUNTY STANDARD TOWN CORRESPONDENT MATT PLUMMER DELIVERS HIS WEEKLY THOUGHTS ON THE NEWS FROM PORTMAN ROAD:
If I were a football manager, I know the part of the job I’d hate most.
It wouldn’t be defeats, rotten form, flak from supporters or scrutiny and speculation in the media.
None would be pleasant but the thing I’d loathe more than anything is telling young players they’re surplus to requirements.
All managers say how tough it is and you can see why, given that the future of an individual and their family rests in your hands.
To some extent, you can make or break them and it’s an enormous responsibility, telling a youngster this is the end of the road in terms of staying and progressing at your club.
Town boss Paul Jewell spoke about the dilemma this week because he plans to speak to his crop of youngsters soon.
He’s decided which ones he wants to keep. Now he must deliver heartbreaking news to the unlucky few.
He said he expects tears in his office and that must be horrendous for both parties – the guilt-wracked manager and the sobbing youngster.
As boss, the only thing you can hope is that the player has the resilience and strength of character to prove you wrong.
Maybe the setback can make him stronger and be the kick up the backside he needs.
Only time will tell but in that instant, the actual process of shattering a youngster’s dreams must be toe-curling.
I don’t envy Jewell and I also don’t envy him in terms of dealing with the absurd contract situation currently ongoing at Portman Road.
Twenty-one players reach the end of their deals this summer and, gallingly, that means they can leave for free.
Gareth McAuley and Damien Delaney are two names on the list but both have already been offered another two years. I sincerely hope they stay.
Skipper David Norris also becomes a free agent but the liklihood is that he’ll move on, possibly to Portsmouth.
Offers are on the table and his agent has already told Jewell – seemingly resigned to losing him – to plan without his player for 2011/12.
Before this season, I wouldn’t have been overly concerned by that development.
On the strength of his contribution this season, however, it would be a major loss of one of the best midfielders in the Championship.
I’m not confident but maybe, just maybe, Jewell can use his powers of persuasion to keep him at Portman Road. Here’s hoping.