Stuart Watson’s Sunday Verdict: Shock therapy was required – let’s go on a journey with Hurst
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Ipswich Town lost 1-0 at Rotherham United yesterday. STUART WATSON gives his considered Sunday verdict.
Owning the process and trusting in the plan.
Those were the buzz phrases of Gareth Southgate amidst England’s unlikely run to the World Cup semi-finals earlier this summer. And they are phrases that are equally apt for Ipswich Town as Paul Hurst attempts a very similar mission.
The true triumph of the Three Lions was getting the people to fall back in love with their national side following years of growing disconnect, disillusionment and apathy.
That, ultimately, is Hurt’s modus operandi at Portman Road. And we must all keep that in mind following Saturday’s 1-0 last-gap defeat at Rotherham United.
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One point from two opening games against newly-promoted sides naturally gets that devil on the shoulder talking louder. Has too much been changed too soon? Has the baby been thrown out with the bathwater? Is this all too big a risk for such an uncompromising league?
Players who have departed accounted for 48 of the 60 goals scored in all competitions last season (80%) and 191 of the 506 league starts (38%). None of the nine that have arrived have any experience of note at Championship level or above.
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Shock therapy was required though. It’s boiling frog syndrome. If a frog is put suddenly into boiling water, it will jump out. But if the frog is put in tepid water which is then brought slowly to the boil, it will not perceive the danger and will be cooked to death. Not a pleasant analogy, but one which highlights the dangers of comfort zones. That’s what was happening to Ipswich Town.
Back to the England comparison. Southgate felt like a new breed of manager: Open, measured, relatable. Hurst exudes the same style of leadership. He’s clear on what he wants to do and, crucially, he wants everyone else to join him on the journey.
Fans invest not just financially, but emotionally, in their team. It’s only right they are told, with a reasonable amount of detail, what the thinking is.
Hurst is doing that and it will buy him football’s most precious commodity – patience.
Is there room for improvement from the first two games? Loads. Have there been encouraging signs in both? Plenty. It’s already easier on the eye. On Saturday, the team had 63% possession, produced 16 shots on goal and forced 12 corners. That’s already a fry cry from ironic cheers greeting the long-awaited first shot on target.
As Hurst and his staff’s methods slowly get ingrained, and the players gradually begin to gel, the results will surely come. And when they don’t it will still be a lot more fun to watch.
Town have to keep owning the process. And we have to keep trusting in the plan.