Rejuvenated Jewell happy to head Derby's survival bid

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The Independent Football

Paul Jewell hopes to be able to prove he is a better manager having returned to football with Derby after a six-month sabbatical. Jewell was named as Billy Davies's successor after a whirlwind 24 hours began with a telephone call from the Rams' chairman, Adam Pearson, and ended with him being welcomed at Pride Park yesterday.

Having quit Wigan in May after keeping them in the Premier League with a 2-1 victory over Sheffield United on the final day of last season, Jewell could not resist the challenge offered by Derby. And he believes he has benefited from the break, dismissing suggestions he left the Latics because he could not handle the pressure of managing in the top flight.

"All I wanted to do was walk away from Wigan with my head held high," said the 43-year-old. "There were absolutely no health reasons. I just wanted a rest from football and I'm not ashamed to say that."

Jewell, who will name the former Burnley manager Stan Ternent as his assistant but will leave the current first-team coach Mark Seagraves in his job, has signed a three-and-a-half-year contract and stressed that he considers Derby a long-term project. However, with the team bottom of the Premier League with six points he knows he must first focus on survival.

Paul Ince had been linked with the Pride Park job his League Two club MK Dons yesterday issued a statement saying they rejected an approach from Derby but the Rams insisted that Jewell's experience proved crucial.

"Paul is a stand-out candidate with regard to managerial experience in both the Premier League and the Championship," said Pearson. "I was very interested in Paul Ince but Milton Keynes didn't give us permission [to speak to him]."