Hundreds of applications, 63 days, plenty of speculation and finally some white smoke... how Ipswich got their man
PUBLISHED: 12:19 30 May 2018 | UPDATED: 12:31 30 May 2018
Ipswich Town’s search for a new manager is finally over following the appointment of Paul Hurst. Andy Warren looks at the story of how the Blues finally got their man.
Day one: After weeks of speculation regarding his future, it was announced on March 29 that Mick McCarthy would leave his role as Ipswich Town manager at the end of the season.
“It never got to the point where we actually talked about a new contract,” owner Marcus Evans said. “It just felt right that it was time for us both to look at different options.”
Days earlier, former England boss Steve McClaren had been linked with the Ipswich job, with the now QPR boss one of the early favourites for the job alongside Danny Cowley of Lincoln.
Day two: Captain Luke Chambers insists it is too soon for him to throw his hat in the ring to be the next Ipswich manager, despite admitting he would like to move into coaching at the end of his career. John McGreal of Colchester and Luton’s Nathan Jones insist they are focussed on their clubs despite links.
Day three: The Blues lose 1-0 at Birmingham in their first game since news of McCarthy’s departure is announced, with the Blues boss admitting it was a ‘surreal’ experience.
Day five: Ipswich draw 2-2 with Millwall in an entertaining game, after which McCarthy admits he may not see out his contract.
Day seven: Former Ipswich Town manager George Burley insists the Blues must do all they can to convince Tony Mowbray to be the club’s next manager. Burley would ultimately go on to apply himself.
Day nine: A year on from first being linked with the job, Dutch boss Maurice Steijn, of VVV Venlo, reveals he is ready for a new adventure before saying - “Ipswich is a very nice club and a very famous club in Holland because of Frans Thijssen and Arnold Muhren and what they achieved under Sir Bobby Robson.” We also reveal David Unsworth would see Ipswich as the perfect platform to begin his career.
Day 11: Lincoln assistant Nicky Cowley insists he and his brother have their full attention fixed on the Imps despite links with Ipswich.
Day 13: McCarthy sensationally leaves his post early, declaring ‘I’m out of here’ following a 1-0 victory over Barnsley. And with that, he was gone, insisting in a club interview he had left Ipswich in a better shape than he found it. Bryan Klug is placed in caretaker charge.
Day 18: Former Liverpool midfielder Steven Gerrard is reported to be on a list of candidates to potentially replace McCarthy. He would ultimately end up taking charge of Rangers.
Day 20: Following links to Mark Warburton, ex-Ipswich striker Nicky Forster says his former Brentford assistant would be a great fit for the Blues.
Day 22: Steijn is a clear favourite with Ipswich supporters in our poll, in which 5,500 fans had their say on who should be the next manager. Steijn carded 30% of the vote.
Day 27: Gary White, currently the manager of Taiwan, reveals the reasons why he believes he should be in the conversation to become the next manager of Ipswich Town. Wigan’s Paul Cook emerges as the new favourite with the bookmakers.
Day 28: Ipswich Town owner Marcus Evans speaks on camera for the first time, in which he outlines his vision for the club, discusses what he is looking for in a new manager. He sets a timeline of ‘the end of May or beginning of June’.
Day 29: Old stager Harry Redknapp jokes that Marcus Evans ‘has my number’ as he discusses the Ipswich vacancy, while early favourites Danny and Nicky Cowley sign new Lincoln contracts. It is reported Scott Parker is a potential candidate.
Day 30: It is reported nationally that Sol Campbell is set to be interviewed for the Ipswich Town job.
Day 34: Shrewsbury chief executive Brian Caldwell says ‘it’s inevitable’ that clubs like Ipswich Town will show interest in Shrews’ boss Paul Hurst – and hopes he gets ‘the right job’ offered to him.
Day 35: It is reported that former Ipswich defender Tony Mowbray, backed by many fans to be the right man for the job, is not interested in a return to his former club.
Day 36: Frank Lampard is linked to the Ipswich Town job and insists he is looking for the ‘right opportunity to manage’. He would later be interviewed.
Day 37: Hurst insists he is flattered by links to the Ipswich job but is focussed on Shrewsbury during the League One promotion run-in. Former Ipswich manager George Burley reveals he has applied for the position, insisting ‘I have all the credentials’.
Day 42: Tim Sherwood is reported to have been interviewed for the Ipswich job as Hurst’s odds shorten dramatically. Cook signs a new deal at Wigan.
Day 43: We exclusively reveal Ipswich have been granted permission to speak with St Mirren manager Jack Ross.
Day 44: During a BT Sport broadcast, Ross admits he will “listen to what they (Ipswich) have to say” before adding “I think there has been communication between the clubs, but at the moment I don’t know anything more than that, which is ok.”
Day 49: We reveal the Blues contacted former Sunderland boss Simon Grayson as part of their wide-ranging search for a new manager. He did not reach the interview stage.
Day 50: Ross and Hurst emerge as the two leading candidates for the Ipswich Town manager’s job but, despite reports to the contrary, it is not simply a two horse race.
Day 51: It is reported that Lampard impressed Evans after meeting the Ipswich owner for a second time.
Day 54: Sunderland emerge as competition for the Blues for both Hurst and Ross. St Mirren offer Ross a new deal in a bid to fend off interest.
Day 56: It emerges on May 23 that Ross is on the verge of being appointed by Sunderland, leaving Hurst as the clear favourite for the Ipswich Town job. St Mirren initially insisted they had not been approached by the Black Cats for the in-demand manager, but reports in both the North East and Scotland insist a deal is close.
Day 57: With Ross set for Sunderland, it becomes clear Hurst is man Ipswich Town wants to appoint to replace McCarthy. The Blues are thought to be ready to move quickly following the upcoming League One play-off final. There are back-up options, though, with Steijn among a number of managers contacted by third parties representing the Blues.
Day 58: Ross is confirmed as manager of Sunderland.
Day 60: Hurst’s Shrewsbury lose at Wembley, beaten by Rotherham, with the manager refusing to be drawn into discussing the Ipswich vacancy when asked after the game.
Day 61: It is clear thr Blues are going to make an approach for Hurst, with that approach being made public on Bank Holiday Monday at around 9.30pm. A compensation package is also agreed.
Day 62: Shrewsbury chief executive Brian Caldwell accuses the Blues of making an ‘illegal approach’ for Hurst, 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.
Day 63: The 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.