Advertisement

  1. ITV Report

What went wrong for Paul Hurst at Ipswich Town?

Paul Hurst's time at Ipswich is already over. Credit: PA

It was branded as a "New Era", but after just five months in charge, Paul Hurst's time at Ipswich Town is already over.

There was much excitement when Hurst was given the job at Portman Road, with many fans convinced that he would be the bright, young manager to take the club forward.

However, it never happened for him, and instead he leaves Town in the midst of a real uphill battle to maintain their Championship status.

ITV News Anglia's Andy Ward has been looking at where it all went so wrong...

  • The New Era failed to take off
Ipswich have found wins hard to come by this season. Credit: PA

Every manager dreams of a flying start to life at their new club, but Hurst never really got off the ground.

Having to wait until mid-October to get his first win meant the pressure quickly piled on, and any early optimism soon evaporated.

Ipswich had hoped that Hurst would be able to unite the players and fans after a sour end to Mick McCarthy's reign, but it's difficult for any club to remain positive when you're not winning.

The East Anglian Derby was another big opportunity missed to endear himself to supporters, especially when you consider that Norwich were far from their best that day and weren't in the same rich vein of form that they are now.

The biggest disappointment for Ipswich fans though has been that there's been no real change in style of play from the McCarthy era, and when you combine a lack of attacking flair with bad results, you're always going to be up against it.

In conclusion, there just weren't any signs of progress, and it's that, more than anything, that cost him.

  • Summer recruitment woes
The departures of Martyn Waghorn (left), Joe Garner (centre) and David McGoldrick (right) left a big void. Credit: PA

Losing proven Championship strikers Martyn Waghorn, Joe Garner and David McGoldrick was always going to be tough, but replacing them with players from the lower leagues was a massive gamble that, so far, hasn't paid off.

Of course, there are gems in Leagues One and Two, but hoping for so many to step up at one time was asking for trouble.

The likes of Kayden Jackson, Jon Nolan and Toto Nsiala have all struggled to adjust to their new surroundings at a higher level and they'll need time to really bed in - something that Ipswich don't have at this moment.

Ironically, prospective new boss Paul Lambert enjoyed success at Norwich by recruiting from lower down the food chain, but that was several years ago now and The Championship is a different beast.

There's so much quality and money flying around in the second tier these days, and it's making it harder than ever to compete on a shoestring budget.

Perhaps in hindsight Ipswich should have looked to combine young, hungry players with experienced Championship pros that know the league inside out, and you could justifiably argue that they didn't get that balance right in the summer.

  • Failure to find his best team
Paul Hurst used 27 players during his time in charge. Credit: PA

Following defeat against QPR on Saturday at Portman Road, Hurst made seven changes for the midweek trip to Leeds United, and that sort of upheaval was commonplace during his time in charge.

In fact, Hurst used 27 players in total as he searched for a winning formula - the most in the division.

If you look back at the history books, the most successful teams generally don't make too many changes from game to game, but Town have rotated at a rapid rate under Hurst.

Players haven't been given a chance to discover any kind of form, and the spine of last season's team was ripped apart after Waghorn and Garner were sold and goalkeeper Bartosz Białkowski was dropped.

Granted, Białkowski didn't start the season well, but the saying goes that "form is temporary, class is permanent" and Hurst would have done well to remember that.

You don't win Player of the Season three years in a row if you're not any good.

Perhaps if Hurst had held his nerve more and stuck with a settled team, he'd still be in a job right now...

  • Injuries to key players
Summer signing Ellis Harrison has missed much of the season with an ankle injury. Credit: PA

In his defence, Hurst didn't get much luck.

The return of Jon Walters from Premier League club Burnley looked like being an astute piece of business, but he was soon sidelined with a long-term Achilles injury just a couple of games into his loan spell.

Then there was another body blow when fellow striker Ellis Harrison was also ruled out for two months with ankle ligament damage, leaving Town desperately short up front and unable to bring in any new faces until January.

And it's showed. In many games, Ipswich just haven't looked like scoring, and there isn't much choice to change things from the bench with Kayden Jackson and Freddie Sears currently the only senior forwards on the books.

Things could well have been different had Walters in particular stayed fit, but on the other hand, Hurst should have found ways to get goals from elsewhere.

What is for sure is that the striker situation must be addressed in the new year if Ipswich are to have any chance of survival.