Caretaker boss Bryan Klug on Hurst’s sacking, being ‘frightened’ of relegation and tomorrow’s game at Millwall
- Credit: Picture: Steve Waller
Bryan Klug will be in caretaker charge of Ipswich Town for tomorrow’s Championship clash. Here’s what the club stalwart had to say about Paul Hurst’s sacking, the relegation fight ahead and what the new manager needs to do.
Q: Back in caretaker charge again Bryan... Something you’re happy to do when Marcus Evans makes the call?
A: You don’t really get much choice when Marcus gives you the call! The reason behind it is that the club is not where we want to be.
It’s not something I want to be doing because I want the club to be thriving. Obviously a situation has arisen and the owner’s made a decision, so here I am.
It does sadden me really. As you know I’ve been at the club for a long time, and it’s not a club that would make this sort of decision very lightly. It is a shock.
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Q: What went wrong for Paul Hurst do you think?
A: It’s very difficult to put your finger on any one thing. You don’t just become a bad manager or a bad coach.
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In any walk of life, certainly in football, you need those crucial moments to go your way.
While I haven’t been at every game, I’ve seen moments where I’ve thought ‘if that had gone that way or if that decision hadn’t been made’ and we could have been talking about a very different scenario.
I think everything seems to have gone wrong that could possibly go wrong for Paul. He needed a bit of luck and I don’t think he’s had that. You can look at lots of other things but being a manager is a very difficult job, trust me.
Q: How did you get on with Paul personally?
A: We had a good relationship. I’m a Grimsby lad so I was at Wembley with him when we got back into the league, so there’s no problems at all.
He showed a great interest in how I work with the young players. He had his own ideas about players he wanted to bring in but he saw the bigger picture that we’re trying to do with the younger players here, so I’m very sad that he’s lost his job.
But decisions have to be made if things are not going how the owner wants. Clearly we go and we make another plan.
Q: Were the rumours of behind-the-scenes unrest true?
A: No, I wouldn’t say that. It’s normal when you’re losing games of football, the atmosphere is not going to be electric.
When you’re going through change, there’s always ups and downs, and you hope you come out the other end better off.
Obviously a decision had to be made and the owner has made his decision now, so we have to now start trying to find a way of getting up the table.
Q: For you, was it the right decision?
A: I think change is always very, very difficult, and we were going through a period of change.
I’m not knowledgeable enough to say whether it was too early or too late because sometimes change can look pretty ugly before it becomes pretty good.
‘Bounce’ is probably what Marcus is looking for in this situation. It’s easy for me to say this, because Marcus is the owner and he knows the consequences if we carried on that way, but I’m a great believer in continuity.
But here is a tipping point obviously.
You have to put yourself in different people’s shoes, don’t you?
If I’m putting myself in different people’s shoes I can see the picture from everyone’s angle. We have to deal with the reality. It is his money on the line, as he frequently tells me!
Q: Some people are saying this is all a mess. With your fans’ hat on, how do you see things?
A: I try not to put that hat on because it frightens me, to be honest.
I’ve been here since 1978 and we’ve never been (in a lower division) than where we are now.
It (relegation) is something that I never really want to think about.
Q: This is a different situation compared to your last caretaker stint isn’t it?
A: Yes – it’s a completely different situation.
Four games to go at the end of the season and a lot of goodwill. Now it’s 14 games in and bottom of the table.
But I’m sure (me being in charge) is only for the one game. We’ll go there and put up a big fight.
It’s not a time to experiment but we’ll look at what Millwall do particularly well.
Gerard Nash (first team coach) has seen them four times, so he knows what their strengths are. We’ll pick a team that we think can be very competitive.
Q: It’s a big game isn’t it?
A: We always say every game is big, you can’t say one is bigger than the other, but somehow we’ve got to find a way of winning the game and getting on a run.
Ultimately we’ve got to get better and getting better means both with the ball and without the ball doesn’t it?
I’d take any sort of win or positive result. But I’d like to see them play.”
Q: You fostered so much unity at the back end of last season. How much of a role will the Town fans have to play tomorrow?
A: The fans at the end of last season were fantastic.
I’m told there is going to be a good travelling following tomorrow.
We have an obligation to make them feel that what they’re seeing out on the pitch is good effort and a good way of trying to play.
There’s no doubt there’ll be a good atmosphere from our fans.
Q: Is this squad good enough to stay up?
A: I hope so. Whoever does come in has got to work with these players until there is an opportunity to maybe add one or two, but I think we’ve got some good players.
I’m obviously biased, but I think we’ve got some good young players who will do well for this club eventually. But I think a mixture of the young and the old will hopefully be good enough to get us up the league.
Q: Do you still feel this is a club that gives young players a chance?
A: I think I can still look people in the eye and say ‘if you stay here and you’re good enough, you’ll get a game’. When I can’t do that, it’ll be time to go.
Q: What’s needed to turn things around?
A: Performances leads to wins – the way you play, how you handle the ball and create chances.
I think performances need to improve and that will give us the desired outcome. There are a lot of ingredients needed for that.
When you’re bottom of the league the ball is like a hot potato. When I watched the game at Leeds that’s what I saw and I think those things have got to be put right.
You’ve got to believe that if you’re doing the right things and playing the right way, passing the ball, the performances will lead to success.
Q: So it’s not just about going back to basics and focusing on a clean sheet? You want confidence and bravery on the ball?
A: It’s easy for us to sit in the stand and in the dugout and say ‘be brave, get on the ball’.
The Championship is a tough place to do that, but I think we’ve got players who are pretty adept at that and will be good enough to win enough games, I hope.
Obviously I’ve worked with a lot of the younger players and some of the older players. The new players coming in, I don’t think that’s been very easy for them.
As I say, if one or two little things had gone their way then things would have been different, so I think confidence is low.
But they’ve got to be brave. That’s easy to say but that’s the reality, that’s the truth.
They’ve got to go and play at Millwall. It’s not an easy place to play but you’ve got to go out and really want the ball, really want to handle the ball, really want to play football and compete.
You do lose confidence quite quickly but it can come back quickly as well. One or two good results and I’m sure that confidence won’t be an issue.
Q: I understand Luke Chambers called all the players in yesterday. What was that about?
A: You’d have to ask him that. I’m guessing that’s showing that the players are caring. I don’t know what the meeting was about. I did see them in when I wasn’t expecting them in.
In other sports they (the players) will have a lot more say than in football. It’s not generally acknowledged that players will have a big say, but if they feel they need to get a few things out in the open that’s fine by me.
I’m guessing that might have been what happened, I don’t know.
Q: Has Marcus Evans consulted you about who the next manager should be?
A: No, he hasn’t. I’ve not been involved in that at all. I know nothing apart from the fact that Marcus has just asked me to do this game.
Q: What sort of manager is required do you think?
A: A good one! Somebody who has got experience of the league – I would think that’s what we’d be looking at.
Someone who can work with players and improve players and play whatever ‘winning football’ is.
Q: Is man-management going to be a key quality for the new man?
A: Yes. After five years for the players (under Mick McCarthy) there was stability and maybe all the change had shaken a few.
We had an influx of 12 new players – that’s big change. That’s why an experienced manager coming in and man managing will be massive.
What they say now on the courses that we go on is 20% is what you actually know and 80% is man management. I would 100% that up in my experiences of football.