Hurst Not Afraid to Return to 3-5-2 Despite Brentford First Half
Thursday, 20th Sep 2018 20:06
Town manager Paul Hurst says he’ll not be afraid to use a 3-5-2 system in the future if circumstances suit, despite the formation not having worked during the first half of Tuesday’s 1-1 draw with Brentford. The Blues manager has watched that 45 minutes again and says it wasn’t quite as bad as he first thought.
“I think we’ve got the players that can do that,” he said when asked if he might return to 3-5-2 at some point later on down the line, the Blues having reverted to their more regular 4-2-3-1 system during their vastly improved second period against the Bees.
“I’ve heard a few comments, not directly, from within the squad they felt comfortable with that and think that that’s something that could work.
“It didn’t work [on Tuesday] but not because of Jordan Spence and Janoi [as wing-backs], it didn’t work because we didn’t keep the ball well enough and watching it back that was the biggest thing more than anything else.
“Brentford will cause any team problems in possession but what we didn’t do well enough was execute the game plan with the ball and gave over possession too easily, something that a fan that’s been to training today, and is sat at the back of the room, saw with his own eyes very clearly. It’s nice when someone else sees what I did as well, and that was the reason.
“That’s not particularly to do with the system. I just felt we needed to get a couple more players on the pitch who are a little bit more attack-minded and that lent itself to a change of system.”
Hurst says players’ views don’t come into it when he’s looking at making a tactical change at half-time as he did on Tuesday.
“No, that’s what I’m paid for,” he said. “When you’re walking off the pitch sometimes you hear comments like, ‘We’re getting overrun in here’ or ‘That’s not happening’ but that’s very much my call and I know why I did what I did and whether that was starting or changing.
“That’s what I’m paid for, a lot of thought goes into it, despite what some people might think. You live and die by decisions but ultimately you’ve got to do what you think is right.”
He added: “I think if I’m ever deemed to be someone who is scared to make a big decision I’ll start to question myself.
“As a manager, you’re the one with your head on the block. Irrespective of what anyone else thinks, I’m always going to make decisions which I think are right.
“That’s what always confuses me when people question, whether it’s myself or other managers, unless they’ve got a massive pay-off and are hoping someone wants to let them go an lie on a beach, you’re trying to do what’s right to keep you in a job and get you results.
“Whether people think that it’s a bit of a different idea, I’d say we’re in the job as managers because we’ve in the main had either a decent track record or you know the game, have been in the game a long time and are probably in a place to at least attempt to make those decisions.”
Hurst felt confidence was an issue in that first half: “Yes, and I think that’s where any frustration from a small section of the crowd comes in at times. You almost [feel like that] yourself, so I understand that.
“But in the situation we're in it becomes more difficult. In the second half it still wasn’t anywhere near perfect, but at the same time we did it better. We found more forward passes and we did have some better spells of possession.
“While they had some very good moves in the game, we did make them turn over possession probably more than I’ve seen in their games that I’ve watched, even in the first half.
“So to a degree some of what we were trying to do was working but we weren’t good enough with the football.”
He also has no doubt that Ellis Harrison and Kayden Jackson can become a potent strike partnership at Championship level if he uses a two-man attack in the future.
“Definitely,” he insisted. “That’s irrespective of 45 minutes [against Brentford], I know they could be a partnership if that’s what I decide to go with.
“I also think they can both play with Jon Walters with his experience, he’ll help them and talk them through the game.
“I think that’s an option to us when they’re all available and if I want to go with a partnership again.”
While he made an adjustment to his system as a reaction to Brentford on Tuesday, he says he is aware that there was a belief that there was too much concentration on opponents by the previous management team.
“There’s nothing wrong with changing formation, players or whatever it is for the opposition,” he said.
“But I’ve been told that last season there was a feeling within the group [that there seemed to be more focus on the opposition], whether that’s a feeling that they’re looking for an excuse, I wouldn’t know.
“I know what players are like, I’ve been one myself, I’ve been involved in dressing rooms when things aren't going right you cling on to the tiniest crumb of comfort to say, ‘It’s not our fault, the wind were blowing a bit, my passes were overhit’, whatever it is.
“There seemed to be a feeling that there seemed to be more focus on the opposition on a regular basis, apart from the obvious where you do your homework and your research and pay respect to what you’re going to come up against and at the same time a lot of that is in terms of how we can hurt the opposition.
“The other night was a change because I didn’t feel we would have done as well sticking to what we had been doing in that game, and I stand [by that].
“To clarify what I’m saying, the other night we may well have started with the system that started the second half, but it might have been the same sort of game because if you keep giving the ball away it doesn’t matter what system you play.
“And then we might have changed at half-time and done a little better. We can get carried away with it but we did have a clear plan of what we were trying to do.
“I’ve got a clear view and if we’re on a journey, and hopefully a long journey, the path isn’t going to be all smooth.
“There are going to be times we might have to go away from what I ideally want to do. But for the long term I’m very clear in what I want to achieve and whenever we can look to do that along the way then that’s what we’ll do.”
After the defeat at Hull, Hurst described the Town support as “the best set of fans that I’ve managed in front of in terms of how they’ve backed the players and how I haven’t heard that negativity that can quite quickly come”.
Explaining that further, he added: “I think when I make a comment saying what I did it can be deemed as trying to get them on side, keep them on side or whatever. But it was genuine.
“The reason is because there’s such a number of fans at this football club, to feel like you’ve got all of that backing is very good and pleasing.
“I think I get the impression that when there’s a call for a change, it’s very easy to change your mind when things don’t quite start the way that you want.
“And I think overall if that was the case they’d have been a lot louder and not as supportive.
“But I think there is genuine [support], with a lot of people’s feelings and thoughts towards what they would like to see happen at their football club, and ultimately it is their football club.
“I’ve been really impressed, I’ve mentioned that there were one or two groans and again that’s understandable because with some of the passes I’m sure they were sitting in the stand thinking, ‘Maybe I could have made that pass’, but at the same time there was some decent football played still.
“I went to a game last night, there were more fans at the game I went to last night. But there wasn’t a better atmosphere there.
“That’s not me being biased or anything. We were talking about it earlier today, we thought the atmosphere was very good again. That’s a credit to the supporters.”
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