‘I’m not into egos’ – Hurst on harsh words, being too early to judge and keeping the crowd onside

Ipswich manager Paul Hurst at Exeter last night. Picture: PAGEPIX LTD

Ipswich manager Paul Hurst at Exeter last night. Picture: PAGEPIX LTD - Credit: Pagepix Ltd

Paul Hurst’s wait for his first win as Ipswich Town boss went on following Tuesday night’s Carabao Cup penalty shootout defeat at Exeter City. The Blues boss today reflected on harsh words, an assessment timeframe and the importance of keeping the crowd onside.

Q: Have you had a positive reaction from the players?

A: We were off Wednesday. I didn’t see a value in getting them all in just because of how the game went. I came in, so it’s not like I just wanted to stay at home and sulk in bed.

The rest was important because, irrespective of what we felt about the game, we were back late and the running stats, I would have to say, were high.

We’re back in today and the lads have been fine. Hopefully that’s partly due to the way we’ve been around them. We’ve not had a big stick beating them or not been speaking to people.

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I think they know my thoughts on the other night, that hasn’t realistically changed, but at the same time we have now got a game to try and win against Aston Villa.

That’s what the focus is very much on, albeit we will show them some clips of things that we don’t feel were right or were not happy with.

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That’s not as a punishment, it’s about trying to get better and improve.

Q: Have the players got together to have a few words among themselves?

A: I don’t know. I did hear a suggestion that might be a good idea.

What I would say is I think we can quickly carried away with whatever people perceive to be a situation. We’re three games in.

We played pretty well against Blackburn and got a point. Admittedly it was a late goal, but I think we worthy of at least a point.

We played well at Rotherham. We didn’t win the game, accepted, but there were lots of positives. If we get a penalty decision or take one of those chances we could be sat here having a very different conversation about that one.

Midweek I wasn’t happy, clearly, but I don’t think it’s time to start panicking. I was asked if there should be concerns and I said I could understand why some people would be, but I think it’s too early to get into those conversations.

From my point of view, I want to look on the positives and look forward to a very good game against tough opposition.

Q: What was the journey back like on Tuesday night? You flew home. Quiet?

A: It was quiet. I wouldn’t have expected anything different. A lot more serious things happen in life than losing a game of football. Perhaps one of those obvious things is losing someone – and it felt a little bit like that. There was a little bit of mourning going on because we out the competition when I think we know we should have won that game.

That’s fine for that day, I certainly wouldn’t expect people to be laughing and joking, but then they’ve had the day to get themselves together and maybe spend a bit of time at home with family. Those that are lucky enough to have kids, that’s a great way to try and take your mind off it and get you back to reality.

Hopefully, and they seemed it this morning, they are ready to go again and think about the next challenge ahead.

Q: How have they reacted to your words. You’ve told us from day one you’ll be honest and blunt – you certainly were on Tuesday night. That can go one of two ways with some players can’t it?

A: Yeah, perhaps it can. I’ve been asked whether those words were said to try and spark a reaction for Saturday. I hope there is a reaction, but it wasn’t with that intention. It was more about just me being me. I don’t try and say things to try and fool people or put on a show.

That’s the way I’ve always been as a manager and it’s served me pretty well so far. If some individuals can’t take those words then, while it might be my problem, then there’s an element of it also being theirs.

It’s how you react after (saying those words). If in general they see me as someone who will talk to them and treat them well then I don’t think it should be an issue. I think that’s what’s probably happened in the past.

I sometimes hear little comments and think if they’d had some of the managers I had and seen the way people have been treated in the past then they would really struggle.

I don’t see it being an issue. If it is, it is. I have to live and die by that.

But I’m not going to change the way that I’ve managed and the way that I feel is best because someone has maybe got an ego that can’t take that. I’ve said from the start that I’m not into egos. I’m into trying to win games of football. The players are too, so it shouldn’t be an issue.

I didn’t see anyone sulking around today. Hopefully it’s been and gone and we’re on to the next one.

Q: This lead up to the international break is going to be a real acid test. Is that a time when you’ll really step back and assess things?

A: You’re constantly assessing. I don’t know why, but this does kind of feel a little bit different to the other seasons I’ve had even though it’s a similar schedule. I don’t feel like there’s been any time to breath. It’s kind of been ‘on to the next one’.

I’m used to this sort of game schedule, but it has felt a little bit different.

Once we are through these next four games there is a little bit of time to really sit and reflect, analyse, assess what’s been before, what needs to stay the same and what needs to change during that break.

Q: At what stage do you think it would be fair to judge you and this project? A lot of managers say ‘give me two, three transfer windows’.

A: A lot of managers say that. I dare say some say it genuinely and some say it to try and give themselves time.

I’m not going to put a timeframe on that. In the end that will be down to the owner. Fans will make their own minds up no matter what I say and you guys (the media) will make your minds up no matter what I say.

Logic suggests it will take time. We’ve not come in just tweaked one or two things; there has been a big turnaround in players and there’s been a big change in terms of what’s been asked of the players.

There was a cry for change and then it’s like ‘well, did you want that change?’ That’s life. I know what happens. Results make the change right if they are positive and if they are negative then it’s ‘be careful what you wish for’.

Some of the players have been with us, what, a week? You can’t expect everything to click. There’s part of me that wants it to and almost expects it to, but realistically it’s not going to. We do want it to happen as soon as possible.

Q: The easy thing for you would have been to come in and think ‘this was a team that finished 12th last year’ and eased yourself in to a certain degree. That’s not your style though is it?

A: I think you asked me before whether, potentially, was ‘too much, too soon?’ I stick by what I said. If it doesn’t work out I’d rather we gave it a go doing it the way I wanted to do it, rather than be careful and dipping my toe in. Let’s have a go. That’s the motto I want for the players.

I want that on Saturday. We know we’re up against a good team, but I’m not going to suddenly change and go ‘right, let’s get everyone behind the ball and no-one does anything or moves out of position’ and we’re thinking ‘let’s just keep Villa out and hope we get a lucky goal’.

We’re going to try and be positive. There might be things that are a little bit different from what you’ve seen before, but overall a lot of the principles will remain the same.

I want to get the crowd involved, as we’ve spoken about. Everyone said after the opening day that the atmosphere was much better than it has been in recent times. I want that again and, if we can, get it even better.

They are a big part of the football club, fans. We’re playing at home. If we don’t give them anything to shout about, or at least try, then there’s no point playing bat home.

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