Ipswich hope to appoint Hurst as next boss... so how does he fit Evans’ five-point plan?
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Paul Hurst is a leading candidate for the Ipswich Town job. Here ANDY WARREN puts the Shrewsbury boss through Town owner Marcus Evans’ five-point plan
Ipswich owner Marcus Evans has vowed to give his managers time in the job and to not make hasty decisions, but any prospective manager will need to play their part, too.
Hurst spent more than five years at and showed loyalty to Grimsby as he battled to take the Mariners back into the Football League, before departing for Shrewsbury and a chance to test himself at a higher level.
He is known to be an ambitious man who wants to test himself at the highest level possible, but also a manager who wants to finish the job at hand. That job is still ongoing given he has taken the Shrews to the League One play-off final.
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In the event of a move to Portman Road, Hurst would almost certainly be accompanied by long-time assistant Chris Doig, with the former Nottingham Forest and Northampton midfielder first linking up with Hurst while still a player at Grimsby.
He then became his assistant before also making the move to Shrewsbury, with the two providing stability for each other.
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Hurst would also likely bring goalkeeping coach Danny Coyne, formerly of Tranmere and Grimsby, with him to Suffolk.
Attractive playing style
One of the biggest knocks on former manager Mick McCarthy was his style of play, with many not happy with an ultra-pragmatic approach which saw an ‘every point’s a prisoner’ approach outweigh a desire to win.
Evans has been keen to stress just how important an attractive playing style and entertainment is when considering who should fill McCarthy’s shoes.
Hurst likes his sides to pass the ball and move it forward, working the ball into the strikers’ feet and seeing players work off him from there.
Carlton Morris’s goal against Charlton in the second leg of their League One play-off final is a typical example of this, starting a move with the ball at his feet, bringing two others into play before moving back into the area, picking up on a neat ball and sliding it into the bottom corner of the net.
Jon Nolan is a creative midfielder who pulls the strings behind the striker, while Hurst is known to use wide players well having asked to make the New Meadow pitch as big as possible for his first full season with the club.
His sides are well-drilled, incredibly fit and organised, but always look to play on the front foot. He is known to set his sides up in the same way both home and away.
Work within a sustainable budget
Any manager taking on the Ipswich Town job will do so knowing they will not be competing at the top end of the Championship in terms of budget.
That will be an all-too familiar feeling for Hurst, with his Shrewsbury side operating way below the financial strength of their promotion rivals this season. Indeed, the size of the Shrewsbury budget and their struggles the previous season meant the Shropshire side were tipped for relegation at the start of a campaign which will end, one way or another, at Wembley. He printed out those bookies’ odds and displayed them at the training ground to act as motivation to his players.
Looking at the Shrewsbury squad you see a group of loanees, cast-offs and players who have spent significant amounts of time plying their trade in non-league football.
But he has moulded these players into a side punching well above their weight and that remained in the promotion race despite those around them being able to strengthen during the January window.
The budget at Portman Road will be much greater than that of Shrewsbury’s, of course, but the principles and place within their division is something he would be familiar with.
Players like Adam Webster and Grant Ward have been used to highlight the need to sign younger players at the beginning of their careers and develop them.
While Hurst has not been able to spend the amounts Evans sanctioned to prise Webster and Ward from Portsmouth and Tottenham respectively, his ability to develop players is in evidence.
Nolan is a good example of this, with the former Everton youth player drifting between non-league clubs before linking up with Hurst at Grimsby in 2016. The midfielder played a part in the Mariners’ promotion to League Two that season, before moving to League One Chesterfield that summer. But he was reunited with Hurst last August, with the 26-year-old becoming the Shrews’ creator in chief this season with nine goals and plenty more assists.
Toto Nsiala is another, with the defender plying his trade outside the league before becoming a dependable performer for Hurst at Grimsby and then Shrewsbury as they moved up the pyramid - to the extent Sunderland have showed interest in signing him.
Bring young players through
There is a rich crop of academy players coming through Town’s Playford Road training base, with the new manager expected to utilise this and bring youngsters through into the first team.
None of the 18 players in the matchday squad for Sunday’s play-off victory over Charlton came through the ranks in Shropshire, but his side lined up with an average age of a little over 25.
Players such as the previously mentioned Nsiala and Nolan are typical of Hurst’s recruitment policy at Shrewsbury, with the squad made up of players with a string of clubs on their CVs. It’s what makes their achievement all the more remarkable.
Hurst has not worked at a club with such a rich youth team history as Ipswich Town, with an academy that has already produced the likes of Andre Dozzell, Tristan Nydam and Flynn Downes an asset any prospective manager should be excited to use.