Paul Hurst appointment is classic Ipswich Town – and that’s exciting
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Paul Hurst yesterday became the 16th manager in Ipswich Town’s 82-year professional history. Stuart Watson gives his thoughts on the appointment.
And so, after a 62 day search, Ipswich Town have got their man.
In the end, after some serious due diligence, it was the one they highlighted right at the very start of the process.
Cynics will say that’s simply propaganda from a club who missed out on some and couldn’t attract others. I’ve heard enough over the last few weeks to believe it’s the truth.
Several experienced managers were gagging for this gig and never got the call. And if Town had really wanted Jack Ross they could have got him.
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The fact Marcus Evans outlined ‘late May to early June’ as his timeframe to appoint was a massive clue as to which way he was always looking.
As far back as May 1st this newspaper ran a back page stating Paul Hurst was a leading contender. Subtle enquiries were made long ago. And as soon as the League One Play-Off Final was over they moved quickly.
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Delve into Hurst’s background and you can see why. This is a risk, no doubt, but very much a considered and calculated one.
In many ways, and please don’t stop reading just yet, the 43-year-old shares many traits with his opinion-splitting predecessor Mick McCarthy.
Effort, organisation and discipline are non-negotiable qualities he demands from his teams. He gets around small budgets by prioritising character in recruitment. He’s renowned for honesty and loyalty that players respect and respond to. Team spirit is key.
Those are all good things though – let’s not forget that. Ipswich Town didn’t need to throw the baby out with the bathwater. Everything was far from broken. They just need a bit of subtle rewiring to break this Groundhog Day cycle and shake a fanbase out of a growing state of apathy.
Hurst can hopefully do that. Several lines from his interviews last season will certainly be music to Blues fans’ ears.
After Shrewsbury had taken West Ham to an FA Cup third round replay he proclaimed; “In this game, you have joy from giving it a go.”
On making bold, early subs when his team are behind, he’s said: “If we lose two or three-nil, we’ve still lost, so why not?”
Then there’s the quote: “I don’t have any different tactics home or away, you’re trying to win matches wherever you are.”
That should provide a refreshing antidote to the ‘every point’s a prisoner’ rhetoric that seeped into the players’ subconscious and switched off supporters.
No-one is expecting a genuine promotion push (mind you, Shrewsbury fans would have said that this time last year). All they want is to enjoy watching their team play again and have a sense that something is building. Because that’s ultimately what football is about – fun and hope.
There’s just something about this appointment that feels very Ipswich Town.
It feels like an important step in embracing the unique DNA of this special football club again after Evans’ head was previously turned by bigger names.
He could have gone for the glitz and glamour of a Steven Gerrard or a Frank Lampard. And I’m glad he hasn’t.
The emphasis needs to be on the name below the badge again, not the initials on the tracksuit.
This is a provincial football club that has historically punched well above its weight after giving young managers a chance.
Ramsey, Robson and Burley were all in their 30s with limited managerial experience when they arrived at Portman Road. They were extremely grateful for the opportunity.
Hurst will certainly be that. From Ilkeston to Ipswich, here is a man on the up but whose feet are firmly grounded. You get the feeling he could win the Champions League and still not feel like he’s proven himself.
There’s a healthy mix of inner belief and exterior doubt – a potent combination.
This is the dawn of a new era. And you can’t help but feel excited.