Hurst’s 149 days in charge of Ipswich Town: How the shortest reign in Blues history played out
- Credit: Archant
Paul Hurst has lost his job at Ipswich Town after just 149 days in charge. ANDY WARREN takes a look at how his reign unfolded.
May 27: Paul Hurst’s Shrewsbury Town are beaten in the League One play-off final by Rotherham, with Hurst now the clear favourite for the Ipswich Town job. “I don’t want to pass comment on that – I’m still very much hurting from what I’ve just seen,” he said after the game.
May 29: Ipswich Town confirm they have made an official approach for Hurst’s services. The following day, Shrewsbury chief executive Brian Caldwell accuses the Blues of making an ‘illegal approach’, after he was contacted by the manager’s agent rather than Ipswich themselves. Town issue a statement insisting they have complied with EFL rules throughout.
May 30: The 63-day pursuit of a new manager is over as white smoke emerges from Portman Road. Hurst is appointed on a three-year deal and will begin work once he returns from a family holiday in Dubai. Marcus Evans insists Hurst was always his first choice, stating: “We are looking to build on the club’s history of playing an attractive, winning style of football; developing youth through our academy and getting the most out of every player we have here.
“Paul ticks all the boxes when it comes to these key attributes.”
June 12: Hurst and assistant Chris Doig are introduced to the media as the new Ipswich Town boss takes time out from an LMA course in London. He speaks of his pride at being appointed and immediately states and aim to bring wingers into the club. “There hasn’t been that many managers here,” he said. “I think you are given time to be a success, and I hope that is the case, and put your own stamp on a football club where a lot of good things are already happening.”
June 18: Hurst officially begins work as manager of Ipswich Town.
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June 25: Ipswich Town return for pre-season training as the players work with their new manager for the first time. Later that day, Trevoh Chalobah becomes Hurst’s first signing.
June 28: Adam Webster is sold to Bristol City for an initial £3.5m fee with the potential to rise as high as £8m.
July 14: After a week at a Spanish training camp, Hurst’s first game in charge of Town sees them beaten 2-0 by National League side Braintree. After the game, Hurst pulls no punches: “I am Ipswich Town manager and I’m looking at my team and expecting a lot, lot better.”
July 16: After a £3million bid from Birmingham is rejected, star goalkeeper Bartosz Bialkowski signs a new three-year contract with the Blues.
July 17: Hurst signs Gwion Edwards for an initial £700,000, with Ellis Harrison (£750,000, July 23) and Janoi Donacien (loan before £750,000 move, July 31) coming shortly after. All the while, Martyn Waghorn continues to be linked with a big money move away with Middlesbrough, Sheffield United and Derby leading the chase.
July 24: Waghorn is left on the bench as Ipswich win 1-0 at MK Dons in pre-season, sparking yet more speculation.
August 4: The Blues’ new era begins in earnest on the opening day against Blackburn. Edwards puts Ipswich ahead inside five minutes but new loanee Tayo Edun is ultimately required to rescue a 2-2 draw. Waghorn is not involved.
August 8: Waghorn is sold to Derby for an initial £5million fee, bringing a long-running saga to an end. Hot on the heels of this, part of the fee is reinvested in Toto Nsiala and Jon Nolan as Hurst goes back to his former club for two of his key players in a combined £2million deal.
August 14: Ipswich are humbled in the first round of the Carabao Cup as they are beaten on penalties by League Two Exeter. Hurst again pulls no punches, giving a damning assessment of his side’s display. “There need to be a few home truths. That performance worries me,” he said.
August 17: Luke Chambers responds to criticism with a much-critiqued interview with the club’s in-house media team. He said: “We can use that as fire to show we do care, of course we care. Our attitudes shouldn’t be questioned – we’ve made it this far in our careers to be professional footballers so we need to respond to that criticism and perform in a way where we can show we can play at this level and can put performances in to the standard required.”
August 30: The final two days of the transfer window are a whirlwind. Jon Walters makes an emotional return to Portman Road on loan, while there are also links to Josh Windass and the continued attempt to bring in Curtis Tilt from Blackpool. Ultimately, it’s Matthew Pennington who arrives on loan from Everton to fill a central defensive role.
September 2: The East Anglian Derby is seen as the best chance in a decade for the Blues to get one over rivals Norwich. There is a big call prior to kick-off, with Hurst dropping three-time player of the year Bartosz Bialkowski to the bench for a game which ultimately ends 1-1.
September 15: While being far from a swashbuckling performance, the draw with Norwich offers cause for optimism during the two-week international break. Sadly, though, the Blues fall flat on their return at Hull as they gave away two poor goals once again in a 2-0 loss.
September 22: Another chance for a win goes begging as Ipswich fail to break down a Bolton side which played for nearly an hour with 10 men. The game ends 0-0, but injury is added to insult when the Blues lose Jon Walters to an achilles injury which ends his time at Portman Road.
October 6: Relief is in the air as Ipswich secure a dramatic 3-2 victory at Swansea, with Chalobah grabbing the late winner. Hurst is quick to insist the Blues hadn’t ‘cracked it’ and there is plenty more hard work to come.
October 20: Another international break and another flat display at the other end. The Swansea win was supposed to relieve some of the pressure on the Blues but, once again, they never really get going and they are roundly beaten by QPR. ‘I’ll take my responsibility but the players have to take theirs as well’ – that was the theme of Hurst’s post-match press conference.
October 22: Matt Holland had his say on the state of his former club, questioning Hurst’s recruitment policy and suggesting owner Evans had already begun the process of speaking to other managers.
October 23: Hurst hits back at Holland’s comments in his press conference ahead of the game with Leeds, with the Ipswich boss also stating ‘there is a lot at this club that I would change’ and insisting any ambitions for Premier League football at Ipswich Town are unrealistic.
October 24: Ipswich are beaten 2-0 at Leeds in what proves to be Hurst’s final game in charge. After the game he says: “If it’s deemed not good enough then so be it.”
October 25: Hurst and assistant Doig depart Portman Road with just one win to their name in 15 competitive matches in charge. They were not able to secure three points at home and leave after 148 days – by far the shortest reign in the club’s history.