‘Trying to have a relationship with the owner was difficult’ - Hurst reflects on 149 days at Town
PUBLISHED: 16:15 11 January 2019 | UPDATED: 16:25 11 January 2019
© Copyright Stephen Waller
Former Ipswich manager Paul Hurst has reflected on his 149 days in charge of Ipswich Town during an interview with Sky Sports.
Hurst was fired in October with the Blues four points adrift at the bottom of the table, after recording just one win in his 15 league games in charge.
The former Blues boss, who is looking for a new job after taking time out following his departure, discussed how things proved difficult during his earlier days in charge as well as the fact players perhaps didn’t buy into his ideas as much as he would have liked.
Hurst also discussed the Blues’ transfer dealings as well as his relationship with owner Marcus Evans.
Hurst on players buying into his philosophy
“I wanted people to embrace the idea that you be the best that you can be - with no excuses,” he said.
“That’s something I’m a big believer in. But as it went on, maybe because we did not get those early victories, those excuses began to creep in there.
“It is easy to say that you want change but when it comes along are you prepared to put the hard work in or do you show some resistance?
“I don’t think the group as a whole bought into what we were trying to do. I’d had a fantastic relationship with my players at every one of my other clubs. Even at Ipswich, I felt I had decent relationships and the door was always open for players to air their grievances.
“But what it showed to me was the importance of getting the right characters in the dressing room. Character is so important. All you can do is manage those characters the best that you can until you can get the squad how you want it.”
Hurst on Town’s underdog tag
“I’d had some success at Shrewsbury with an unfancied team that were second favourites for relegation, so you are hoping you can do something similar,” he reflected.
“The owner didn’t want to embrace that underdog tag. He felt that given the club’s history and having been in the Championship for a long time, he didn’t want to go down that route. I was OK with that and so we decided to do something different.
“We certainly put more emphasis on sports science. We also wanted to recruit in a different way because there was this complaint about adding journeymen players to the squad. The aim was to bring in younger and hungrier players with a point to prove.
“That is going to take time. I was not naïve enough to think that all the new players would take to it like a duck to water and play really well because that doesn’t happen. But the mindset was that one or two could do that and some of the others could do it with time.”
Hurst on pre-season struggles and transfer dealings
“Pre-season was a struggle. I fought hard to get us a trip abroad just to change things up a bit. The owner, the players and the fans needed that culture change.
“They had been going to Ireland with Mick [McCarthy] but it had almost become a set routine. I thought going abroad instead was great but because we went without anything like the squad we ended up with, that bonding experience was not as effective as I would have liked it to be.
“A lot of the players that went on that trip were not going to be part of my plans to begin with and others moved on. We sold Adam Webster after a couple of days of pre-season and I couldn’t replace him until the season had started. We went into the season with one senior centre-back and we were filling in around that.
“At the other end of the pitch, David McGoldrick had already left the football club and then we lost Martyn Waghorn and Joe Garner. Both wanted to leave and that left a huge void which had to be filled within the wage structure which was difficult.
“The lads that came in probably needed some time to gain confidence and would have benefited from an experienced player like Martyn or Joe.
“Most of the time changes take time to come together and we were starting the season nowhere near as far forward as I had hoped.”
Hurst on working with Evans
“Trying to have a relationship with the owner was difficult. We spoke on the phone but with him not being around to speak to in person, it meant that there was a little bit of a void.”
Hurst on Ipswich’s future
“There are a lot of good young players coming through. If they can continue to progress over the next year or two they might end up in a situation where that group can all be playing in the same team. That would be a real positive for the football club.
“Paul has also brought more new faces to the club, which I would have liked to do in the January window. They may have the positive impact which the team requires. I hope the club can retain their Championship status as I was, and still am, grateful for the opportunity they gave me.”
You can read the full Sky Sports interview here