‘There are lots of things at this football club I would change’- full transcript as Hurst questions Town’s direction
- Credit: Picture: Steve Waller
Ipswich Town manager Paul Hurst discussed playing style, signings, the role of senior players and changes required at Ipswich Town during his press conference this morning.
Q: How would you describe the pressure that you’re under?
A: What’s the pressure like? The pressure comes from myself more than anything. The noise from other areas that is something that is part and parcel of being a football manager, but realistically I put more pressure on myself more than anything.
Is it ideal? Of course not, we know that. At the same time I’ve just got to concentrate on the job in hand. If I listen to every opinion I’d never, ever put a team out because everyone has got an opinion on who should play or what formation we should play.
You’ve just got to try and do your job to the best of your ability and if, in the end, that is not deemed good enough then at least I can be happy and content, look myself in the mirror and know I’ve given absolutely everything I can.
Q: You’re not dreading coming into work or anything like that?
A: No, of course not. As I’ve said before, this job – whether it’s going good, bad or indifferent – is a good job. It provides its difficulties – I knew some of those going into the job and have probably learnt more things along the way – but at the end of the day you’re a manager of a Championship football club and getting to do something that a lot of people can only dream of.
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I’m far from dreading coming into work, that’s for sure.
Q: I guess you’ve just got to push any worries about your future to one side?
A: I’ve said it before, that’s not my decision. While ever I’m in the job I’ll give everything to it and try to change our fortunes around.
Q: Marcus Evans was there on Saturday. Have you had any feedback from him?
A: No, I haven’t spoken to him since Saturday.
Q: Were you hoping the identity you spoke about in the summer would be more in evidence by now, Paul?
A: I disagree with some things and I think there’s a naivety to some comments. Do you not think we tried to press high up the pitch on Saturday? Because I would beg to differ and could show you numerous clips. It didn’t always work or perhaps when we played it and forced them to play it longer, they then had players that got hold of the ball and won headers or things like that.
Every game’s different and that’s something the players spoke about and is blatantly obvious. The Swansea game was very different to the QPR game. You can’t always do exactly what you want to do. Some teams come and try different thing or set up differently and we’re not good enough to play how we want to play all the time. That’s obvious.
I think there are some things in terms of an energy to us that I would have hoped would have been there but it’s been sporadic, rather than a constant.
Q: Do you look back on moments like the Rotherham game and think the whole mood and tone could have been different?
A: That’s certainly something that sticks out but ultimately the season is 46 games long and we can’t just keep looking back. But there are valid points that you raise where it could have been different.
I spoke about, when there was a lot of optimism, about how that can quickly change so let’s not kid ourselves – that has changed.
But I was the one trying to play that down and everyone else seemed to want to get excited about that, but that’s just the way it is. There are certain games we could have had more fortune in, whether that’s from decisions, fortune or us forcing the issue more.
Q: You always talked about not wanting to have any regrets, whatever pans out you want to do it your way. Do you look back on anything so far and think ‘I wish I’d done anything differently’ or are you comfortable?
A: Everything I’ve done has been for the right reasons. I stand by what I said when people question team selection and things like that – everyone’s entitled to an opinion and that’s why everyone loves the game and gets involved. But I don’t think I will ever be at a point of picking a team that I don’t think is the right one on the day – that would be ludicrous.
Hindsight’s a wonderful thing and you look at everything and of course there are one or two things. Anyone who says they wouldn’t have done anything different is probably lying, but decisions were made at certain times for the right reasons.
Maybe I should have pushed for things to have happened quicker.
There are lots of things at this football club that I would change and that’s not me putting it down. But for the football club to progress, which is kind of why I was brought in with talk about changing the football club.
Whether it’s me sat here or someone else, I think there’s lots that needs to occur to try and fulfil the desire and hopes of the fans because at the minute, while everyone wants to be promoted to the Premier League, is that a reality for Ipswich Town? At this moment in time I don’t believe it is and the spending power makes that more and more difficult.
To make up for everything that leaves you short of I think everything else has to be on point and, at the minute, I don’t think that is the case.
Q: Can you elaborate on what those things are, then?
A: No. That’s not a conversation to have in public.
Again, that’s not about me making excuses or talking about performances and our current league positions. What I’m talking about is the progression of the football club.
People will jump on that and say I’m looking for excuses but that’s not the case.
Evolving the football club is what I’m talking about.
Q: Has the spending power disparity been a surprise to you? You knew the makeup of the Championship and that it would be different. But has it come as a greater surprise?
A: Not particularly because you know the figures being banded about. You have to be careful about what you read because, let’s be honest, a lot of what’s in the papers isn’t true.
But at the same time it’s pretty obvious Middlesbrough players and West Brom players are on figures that would take five or six of our players to get to. Sometimes more depending on who you’re looking at.
Overall it has proved difficult, there’s no getting away from that and it makes me laugh when you look at a team down there moaning about the budget and it’s probably double ours.
It doesn’t help, but I hoped we would still be able to make up for that but right now we’ve not been able to.
It’s not impossible to change that.
Q: Matt Holland was on the radio, speaking about the club’s current predicament. Within that he expressed his disappointment and said he’d heard the owner was already speaking to other managers. That must be really difficult for you to hear if that’s being discussed in a public forum?
A: If that’s what’s happening then I’ve got no control over that. To my knowledge that’s kind of hear’say. If it’s the case then only a couple of people will know whether that’s true or not.
I understand what Matt’s standing is here. It’s a club he clearly cares about. I understand he was interested in the role. Perhaps he might be the person at some point who might get a go and we’ll see how he gets on with that.
Q: Another thing Matt said was that he thought recruitment had not been good enough. He himself came from Bournemouth, then a lower league side, but said it was a big ask for so many players to come from League One and League Two to the Championship at the same time. Looking back on that now do you think you signed too many of those players in the summer?
A: I think the idea behind that was trying to help the club move forward, so from memory, the fans were used to getting a certain type of player and didn’t like that.
We’ve still got a group of players here who perhaps fit into that category that they’re talking about so I still think it was the right thing to do.
Matt’s right to say it was a big ask but you are looking for some of those to get a little more help along the way as you progress.
I didn’t expect every one of those players to come in and play 46 league games, that’s for sure. But in time you want them to contribute at various points. Then, as the seasons move on, they do become established. You have to have an opportunity first to get to that point.
That’s where the thought process was at. Matt’s entitled to his opinion and if he’s right, he’s right. But if he’s not…
It’s very easy to comment from the outside. It’s funny because Steve McClaren was speaking before the game and said he doesn’t really like people passing comment that much unless they’ve been in the job themselves. I thought that was interesting from such an experienced manager.
Q: Turning that point on its head you could say too much experience left in the summer, that’s the other side of that.
I know there’s been a lot made of the lads that went out, now all I will say is each one of those players wanted to leave the football club. You will have to ask them face-to-face – whether they will be genuine or not I don’t know – whether they wanted to leave because of me, because of the football club or because of the football club they were going to.
I certainly think in Adam Webster’s case we had worked together for maybe two days so I’d be very surprised if it was me. In McGoldrick’s case he didn’t appear on any sheet or budget I was given.
That leaves two players. Joe wanted to go back home and Martyn Waghorn is someone I really liked. He got on well but he found the situation difficult, so unless there’s something they weren’t telling me I think we’re comfortable where we’re at.
It’s easy to say you don’t have to let players go but I think that’s a little bit naïve and you’ve maybe not been in the job and around football if you think saying ‘no’ would mean you get the same player who has performed in the past for Ipswich Town.
Q: So as it stands at the moment, you are confident the squad is good enough to avoid relegation? That’s the main concern isn’t it, rather than looking further on.
A: At the minute there’s no doubt and, whether we like it or not, we have to accept that is the situation.
We can’t pretend we are suddenly going to be outside the play-offs or in midtable, so let’s stare the situation straight on. At the minute there’s a feel of confusion around the place. We are where we are at the wrong end of the table. We’re bottom of the table – not ‘rock bottom’ as I’ve read. I’m not sure how we’re ‘rock bottom’ when we’re on the same points as someone else and one win could see us move up the table.
We need to accept that and be willing to do the things required to get out of the situation.
Q: We spoke to Freddie (Sears) just now he said you are maybe more suited to away games just now because of the way you set up. Looking at Swansea and then QPR fans would probably agree with that. Is that something you can agree with as well?
A: Not particularly. I think the opposition has a lot to do with it as well.
One thing that I was a little surprised about – admittedly we haven’t won a home game since I’ve been here – but it was interesting to look at the record overall in this calendar year that people have brought my attention to. That really surprised me.
Because of where we’re situated, and yes it’s Championship and a lot of teams have the luxury of travelling in different ways perhaps, making it not as bad a journey, but it’s still a bad journey for teams. You would expect Ipswich’s home form, without looking into anything, to be pretty good but clearly that’s not been the case.
I find that really strange because I would suggest it’s not a difficult place for the home players to play.
On Saturday there was some discontent but I’ve played and managed in a lot worse. So from that point of view I find it strange.
Maybe people who have been here longer will have had a different thought on why that is. It was interesting speaking to a member of staff here who said it didn’t feel like a big game on Saturday. Not because of the numbers but it just didn’t have that feel.
Somehow we need to get together to really see the importance of the situation we’re in and not just think ‘we’re going to be alright’.
Q: A lot of fans were talking about long balls going forward to Freddie and that, I’m sure, wasn’t what you worked on on the training ground. Is that down to confidence?
A: I think that’s some of it and I look at some of our decision making and I’m not quite sure of the thought processes going through players’ minds.
Despite the victory at Swansea, confidence is the most obvious thing. The longer the game goes, when we’re losing, that becomes and easier out for them.
The opposition have an influence on what you’re doing as well.
But playing long balls up to Freddie’s head is not a way we are going to win games of football.
What, for instance, if their left back gets the ball and we get a good press on them and they play a long ball into the channel and there’s a player making a forward run and gets the ball? That’s a good ball and a good run.
A long ball can be a good ball and I think Donacien played a relatively long ball when Kayden came on and he’s suddenly driving into the box and gets in a cross that is defended at the near post well.
There are different ways but I’m certainly not asking players to kick the ball as far as they can, just above Freddie’s head to make him think he’s tired to have a centre half jumping over the top of him.
Sometimes that’s how games can pan out and we need to try and be brave to that and try and not make that the case.