Why sacking Paul Hurst is a sad day for Ipswich Town
PUBLISHED: 19:04 25 October 2018
© Copyright Stephen Waller
Paul Hurst has been sacked as Ipswich Town manager after just 15 games in charge. Chief football writer STUART WATSON gives his thoughts.
It took 50 days for Ipswich Town to appoint Paul Hurst and then just 149 days to sack him.
Sadness is the overwhelming emotion for me.
I’m sad because there will be a lot of outsiders – the ‘be careful what you wish for’ brigade – laughing their heads off and suggesting Town fans have got exactly what they deserve. That’s both patronising and unfair.
I’m sad because this was, no matter what anyone says, exactly the sort of calculated gamble Town needed to take in order to progress as a club.
I’m sad because this decision flies in the face of Town’s traditions of giving their managers time.
I’m sad because, if this decision really was made a few days/weeks ago, then Paul should be put out of his misery and Bryan Klug been put in caretaker charge sooner.
I’m sad because it feels like we’re back to square one and it could be some time before such a gamble is taken again.
Through all this sadness though I still concede it is, ultimately, the right decision.
Owner Marcus Evans simply cannot risk the club dropping into the third-tier for the first time since 1957. The mega rich foreign investors that would take this financial millstone from around his neck aren’t exactly queuing up as it is.
Saturday’s dire 2-0 home defeat to QPR was the tipping point. That was the moment it became very hard to see things turning around.
And yet things could have been so different.
Town could and should have won at Rotherham in game two. Instead they conceded late to lose 1-0 following a dominant display.
Town weren’t great at League Two side Exeter in the Carabao Cup a few days after that, but winning the lottery of the penalty shootout might have led to an exciting second round tie.
Town might have got more against Aston Villa and Sheffield Wednesday had it not been for harsh red card shown to Tayo Edun and Toto Nsiala respectively.
Had they scored a killer second went on top against Norwich City at Portman Road that would have been a major lift-off moment too.
As each passing game slipped by both the feelgood factor in the stands and the confidence among the players dissipated. It became a vicious cycle.
Winning at Swansea was meant to light the blue touch paper. Instead the fuse fizzled out.
Town may not be cut adrift at the bottom and, yes, a couple of wins could change the picture quickly. It was becoming increasingly difficult to see where they were going to come from though.
Hurst insisted he would do things his way and, whatever happened, be left with no regrets. Only he will know what he would do differently if he had this opportunity again.
The ‘too much too soon’ debate will linger. This was a club that needed evolution not revolution following a 12th place finish, but can he really be blamed for cashing in on Adam Webster, Martyn Waghorn and Joe Garner when all three expressed a desire to go?
Yes, asking several players with no Championship experience to all step up together was a big ask, but he’s right in saying that those were the type of signing many had been crying out for.
Some have had poor games, but none – to my eyes – have looked completely and utterly out of their depth.
Was losing Jon Walters to injury simply bad luck or was putting him on as a substitute against Bolton asking for trouble?
And what about the blunt words and bold team selections? There was an argument that perhaps, even on a sub-conscious level, players had slipped into comfort zones. Perhaps a few feathers needed to be ruffled.
Maybe Hurst did go in too strong from the start though with proclamations of players not being as good as he had been told and that reputations counted for nothing. That heat could have come in time, not from day one.
History will ridicule this period in Town’s history. And that’s why I’m sad.