Hurst: Fans Showed They Appreciate Good Players in My Only Portman Road Appearance
Tuesday, 12th Jun 2018 14:39
Paul Hurst checked in at Portman Road as the new Town manager and revealed it was only the second time in his career that he had set foot in the stadium.
He recalled: “I have only played here once. It was a midweek game when I was playing for Rotherham and I’m pretty sure we got beaten [4-3 in April 2005]. But one of our own players [Jamal Campbell-Ryce] actually got a standing ovation from the Ipswich fans.
“I don’t think either I or my team-mates particularly thought he deserved that and the manager certainly told him that afterwards. But it showed a side to the Ipswich fans that they appreciate good players and that’s my only real memory.
“Everything else has been looking at the club and, when you’re in the game, the things you hear. It’s a well run football club and I think it’s well respected throughout the leagues.”
Asked about the strength of the squad he inherits, he added: “There are clearly a lot of good young players coming through, which I know is part of the club’s tradition, and we all know how fans love it when people they call their own come through the academy.
“Added to that there are some good experienced pros, so there’s a nice mix. I think it’s slightly unbalanced and that’s something I have already spoken to the owner about.
“We’ll try to do something in due course about that. Overall, there are some good footballers.
“As I’ve said before, it wasn’t just a case of staying up last year; it was with problems along the way in terms of injuries.
“That’s something we have to look at very quickly – are those players going to be fit and available, and can we keep them fit? If we can we’ve certainly got some very good players at our disposal.”
Town were plagued by injury woes last season, with the likes of midfielders Andre Dozzell, Teddy Bishop, Tom Adeyemi, Emyr Huws and Luke Hyam all absent for long spells, and Hurst added: “Contact injuries are what they are. While I sometimes stand on the side and question whether it is still a contact game, it is, but work on the training ground and the monitoring that we’ll do will hopefully help to reduce the number of injuries.
“You’re always going to get some along the way but certainly at my previous club, in terms of actual muscular injuries, we only had two or three. It helps when you are winning games – players want to be fit when you are winning games as well – so hopefully we will see a similar trend here.”
The now departed Mick McCarthy spent five and a half years in charge and Hurst was asked if a similar period would represent success in his eyes. He replied: “For any manager five years is a very good record. But I never really put any timescale on it. We’re on a course at the minute and we were speaking about it yesterday. It is almost deemed to be a job where you are just trying to survive.
“What I would say, though, is that there haven’t been that many managers here. I think you are given time – I certainly hope that’s the case – to be a success and bring your own stamp to the football club.
“There are already a lot of good things happening here and hopefully we can add to that. For me as a manager it’s about trying to improve a football club.
“Every one I have been at to date, I’ve left in a better place. That’s satisfying from my point of view and hopefully we can do the same here.”
Hurst came close to winning promotion to the Championship with former club Shrewsbury, despite them being most bookies’ favourites for the drop when the odds were first published a year ago.
He famously posted the odds on the dressing room wall as a reminder to his players of the size of the task they were facing. Will he take similar action with some bookies already seeing Town as relegation candidates next term?
He said: “It will certainly be mentioned here. Whether we go down the exact same route, I can’t say, but when you work with a group of people – and it doesn’t matter whether it’s football or business – that team has got to share a goal and a vision, and they’ve got to be together.
“If that helps to bond the players more and give that little bit extra edge and determination, whether it’s to prove people wrong, we’ll see.
“If you ask me, I think they’ve gone a little bit early in terms of predicting we’ll be at the wrong end of the table.”
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