‘I’ve had a player say they think it’s the best squad we’ve had’ – Hurst on mood in Town camp
- Credit: Picture: Steve Waller
Ipswich Town travel to Birmingham City on Saturday still seeking their first win of the season. Here’s what manager Paul Hurst had to say when speaking to the media this lunchtime.
Q: What’s the mood in the camp like?
A: It’s still a bubbly squad. I’ve said all along that if I’m really upset about something then I’ll let them know, but I don’t expect them to come into work and be sulking and not showing enthusiasm because whatever position we are in it’s still a fantastic job.
It really grinds on me when you feel there are people who don’t appreciate what job they have and how many people would happily swap places with them in a heartbeat.
From that point of view it’s fine. It’s when it gets to game day, because of how things have gone, is there really the belief that we can get the result that we want?
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Even last week the dynamic changed in the game when the sending off occurred and we found it extremely difficult to break Bolton down and take advantage of the situation.
Overall I think the lads are in good spirts. They have to keep believing. I’ve got my part to play in that, but they also have to do that themselves individually and collectively.
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There’s no point me just saying it or the crowd really cheering them on. They’ve got to have that belief because they are the ones out on the pitch.
Q: Dean Gerken has just been in here praising the spirit among the squad is as good as he can remember...
A: When I say things people can always say ‘oh, he’s just saying that’. So I prefer it when other people speak about things like that.
I’ve had a player say to me that they think it’s the best squad that we’ve had. Again, straight away people will say we haven’t got Martyn Waghorn, Adam Webster or Joe Garner. I can’t comment on that because I wasn’t here before.
But that player feels that, strength in depth wise, it’s the best squad we’ve had. When you look at the table and the results then people will think that person is mad. Hopefully in time we can get to a point where we can really see something developing and building.
I know it’s not the first team, but I like the fact that the U18s and the U23s are both top of their leagues. Longer-term there are a lot of good young players here. How many can go on and have a Championship career, we’ll see, but I like that they are winning because it breeds a winning mentality. We’ve got to try and make that happen in the first team now.
Overall, I think the training ground is a good environment. People will either believe me or not, but that’s the way I see it.
Q: How are you feeling personally?
A: I’d rather not be where we are – that goes without saying. Straight after a defeat you have a lot of emotions going on, but given a bit of time you start to be a bit more objective about things in the cold light of day.
Then you get back into work and you’re onto the next one.
I’ve said before that I’m a realist and I understand the job that I’m in and how the season has gone so far in terms of results.
The positives last week were that we kept a clean sheet and we move up a place. We weren’t out partying thinking we’ve cracked it, but it was a small step forwards. Granted it was a very, very small step.
It’s not my nature to get carried away when things aren’t going well. It hasn’t been my nature when things are going the other way either.
I take it as a compliment when people say ‘you are the same all the time’ and ‘you can’t tell whether you are top of the league or bottom of the league’.
Some people say that’s boring. Fair enough. I don’t mind that if that’s how people want to see me. I’d take a really boring win now. If that happens I might even smile!
It doesn’t matter how it comes. I genuinely believe that we will win a game of football, whether it’s Saturday or the next couple of weeks, playing worse than we have done so far. I’m not saying that it’s been absolutely brilliant, but I guarantee you we will play worse and win a game of football.
Q: How do you get the players feeling more confident?
A: You highlight periods where we’ve been on top. On the training ground you are praising them. We demand, but we also have to tell them when there’s a good piece of play, skill or finish.
For me, it’s about keep ramming the message home that we haven’t been outplayed. We haven’t ever come off thinking ‘wow, they are miles ahead of us’.
Brentford were extremely good, but we had our periods in that game where we looked a decent side as well. It’s important to concentrate on that.
I think individual errors have cost us more than being really outplayed.
There’s nothing better than victories to lift everything and get everyone to really buy into what you’re doing and give you that belief again.
Q: What sort of role is your assistant Chris Doig playing? Does he help keep your spirits high?
A: Chris often makes me seem really happy, so that probably gives you an indication of what Chris is like! He’s never really happy!
We’ve worked together a long time and know how each other are. It’s something we’ve spoken about. When we are together, maybe there’s an element of him trying to make me feel a bit better or vice versa.
I think we both can see at times that it’s easy to look at the things that aren’t going well rather than focussing on the positives.
He’s hurting. It hurts his pride just as it hurts mine. Chris takes it very personally as well.
I’m not saying every decision I make he’d agree with, but at the same time he’s very much part of it and plays a big part.
Sometimes one of us just has to shut up! If I’ve said something (critical) then there are times when I won’t ask Chris for his opinion because I don’t want it to go any further.
Q: Do you feel like any pieces of the jigsaw are falling into place?
A: We’ve pretty much settled on a way to play from day one. It’s only once we’ve really deviated away from that, as well as a few little changes in the midfield area at times. I think we know what we’re trying to do and where we are with that.
Time, you would think, helps people understand exactly what those roles are. But each game is different because the opposition have different ways of playing and they’re trying to put their game on you. You have to be adaptable.
I’m certainly getting closer to thinking ‘this is my team’. But because of some individual performances it’s not set in stone at this stage.