North Stander: Saturday showed us why Hurst can be such a breath of fresh air
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As Jimmy Greaves used to say, football is a funny old game - and thank goodness for that, writes North Stander Terry Hunt.
If our trip to Swansea had gone according to the form book, we would now be speculating about the end of Paul Hurst’s very short stay at Portman Road.
Instead, after a thrillingly unexpected victory, the talk among fans is of a turning point, the spirit in the squad, and one of the most entertaining Town performances for years.
A funny old game indeed...
Let’s be honest, none of us saw that coming, did we? It could well be an afternoon which changes the course of our whole season. That result, and the way it was achieved, will instil a huge amount of confidence.
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The rumour mill said all was not well in the dressing room. I think we can put those thoughts to bed now. The way we came back to win the game after being pegged back speaks volumes. The players clearly still believe in the manager.
Talking of Paul Hurst, he will be a mightily relieved man today. He’s put on a brave face as the weeks have gone by without a single victory, but he must have been very worried.
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The rumours were that Swansea was the last chance saloon for Hurst. The word was that Marcus Evans was going to change things if we didn’t get a result in Wales. Who knows if that was the case. We’ll never find out now, and thank goodness for that.
I really hope things settle down now as far as team selection goes. For me, the line-up in the second half at Swansea is pretty close to our strongest.
It’s interesting to note that more players from the McCarthy era are being picked now. On Saturday there was Gerken, Chambers, Skuse, Dozzell, Ward, Sears, and also Knudsen for the second 45 minutes. More than half the team, in other words. It gives it a much more solid and experienced look.
In all honesty, that’s what Hurst should have done from the outset. Yes, it needed changes, but he should have blended the old with the new - not tried to alter pretty much the whole team.
The last two seasons under McCarthy were incredibly dull, and increasingly toxic, but we did finish mid-table. That suggests the players were adequate in the Championship. It just needed a sprinkle of added quality.
Instead, it seemed as though Hurst was determined to change it from top to bottom. Well, that hasn’t worked, and now he’s backtracking to some extent. Dozzell adds a touch of class, and the ability to open up a defence. Great to see him back.
Injuries have forced him to bring Sears in from the cold, and Freddie’s been a revelation. He was terrific when he came on against Middlesbrough, and maintained those levels at Swansea. It’s difficult to understand why Hurst didn’t pick him earlier.
MORE: Hurst’s praise for Sears
There are still decisions the manager makes which are perplexing. There can’t be many teams in our position in the Championship who have two World Cup squad members sitting next to each other on the bench.
Ok, Knudsen isn’t the greatest left-back, but at least he’s naturally suited to that position. In the first half at Swansea, we had a right-back playing at left-back, a centre-half at right-back, and Chambers, a right-sided centre-back, on the left side of defence. No wonder we don’t keep clean sheets.
I hope Knudsen keeps his place now and I still cannot fathom why Bart isn’t being picked. Gerken has done well, but we all know Bart is a much better keeper. Three consecutive player of the year awards and a place in the Polish World Cup squad must mean something.
That’s enough criticism. We can now enjoy the international break, safe in the knowledge that we have broken our duck, and in the most unexpected and exciting way.
Now, there’s a word Ipswich fans haven’t used much in recent seasons: exciting. Saturday showed us why Paul Hurst can be such a breath of fresh air. Under McCarthy, we would have parked the bus, especially after conceding that late Celina goal.
There is no absolutely no way we would have been looking for a winner. No such thing as a bad away point, and all that deadly dull McCarthy stuff.
But Hurst keeps going for it. It is exciting. There - I’ve used that word again. I really hope this, belatedly, signals the beginning of a new era of entertaining football.
Enjoy the break!