Why you can’t blame bosses with rov­ing eye

The Football League Paper - - NEWS -

IT’S been a pretty bleak month for Paul Hurst. One minute man­ager of Ip­swich. The next tak­ing pel­ters from all an­gles.

Sacked by the Trac­tor Boys. Ac­cused of dis­re­spect by Bar­tosz Bialkowski, who was un­cer­e­mo­ni­ously dropped for the East Anglian derby.

Over­looked for the va­cant Notts County job. And, worst of all, hung out to dry by Shrews­bury chief ex­ec­u­tive Brian Cald­well.

Ap­pointed in Oc­to­ber 2016, Hurst worked won­ders at the New Meadow. He turned rel­e­ga­tion fod­der into pro­mo­tion con­tenders. De­liv­ered two Wem­b­ley fi­nals.

The sec­ond of those, a 2-1 de­feat to Rother­ham in the play-off show­piece, de­nied the Shrews a first-ever sea­son in the Cham­pi­onship.

By then, how­ever, Hurst had ap­par­ently al­ready cleared his desk and packed his car, the ink long dry on his Port­man Road con­tract.

Those ne­go­ti­a­tions with Ip­swich on the eve of the play-offs in­fu­ri­ated Cald­well, who re­sponded to rumours of Hurst’s re­turn last week by spilling the beans on his hasty exit.

“It is too soon for Paul to come back,” he said. “You have lost that trust with some­one do­ing some­thing be­hind your back for such a length of time at a re­ally im­por­tant time.”

Could Hurst have han­dled his de­par­ture more pro­fes­sion­ally? Cer­tainly. And Cald­well’s anger is un­der­stand­able. Nev­er­the­less, it is un­re­al­is­tic to ex­pect saintly be­hav­iour from man­agers when they rarely re­ceive it from the peo­ple up­stairs.

Re­mem­ber when Danny Wil­son got shafted by Sh­effield United? In 2012-13, the for­mer Barns­ley boss took the Blades on a 19-game un­beaten run, spent months at the top of League One and, with five games to play, lay just six points off an au­to­matic pro­mo­tion spot.

Re­verse

De­feat to Craw­ley at Bra­mall Lane was only their sec­ond re­verse in 12 games, but that didn’t stop owner Kevin McCabe dol­ing out a p45.

Then there’s Karl Robin­son, who in the sum­mer of 2016 re­jected ad­vances from Leeds United to fo­cus on get­ting MK Dons back into the Cham­pi­onship.

“He’s shown me great loy­alty and our re­la­tion­ship is as strong as ever,” said Dons chair­man Pete Winkel­man - four months be­fore ter­mi­nat­ing Robin­son’s six-year ten­ure on the back of a 3-0 de­feat to Southend.

To­day, Wil­son is out of work and has been for al­most two years. Robin­son is toil­ing at Ox­ford, his name no longer linked with the most cov­eted jobs in the EFL.

And those are just two ex­am­ples; ev­ery sea­son brings more shabby treat­ment, more spi­ralling for­tunes.

Are we re­ally say­ing that ruth­less ex­pe­di­ence is jus­ti­fied when it comes to run­ning a foot­ball club but not when it comes to manag­ing one? It is the def­i­ni­tion of dou­ble stan­dards.

So yes, Hurst could have asked Ip­swich to wait. He could have fo­cussed on Shrews­bury. But what if a flashier, more box-of­fice can­di­date had then caught the eye of Mar­cus Evans and the Ip­swich board? Town, af­ter all, spent the spring in a doomed pur­suit of Frank Lam­pard.

Pur­suit

Shrews­bury may still have lost in the play-offs. Their best play­ers may still have left. The sea­son of strug­gle they are cur­rently en­dur­ing could still have come to pass.

And Hurst? He’d have been left high and dry, past ex­ploits for­got­ten, his Cham­pi­onship chance gone for good.

One bad job, one dis­missal, and a man­age­rial ca­reer can hit the skids faster than Scooby Doo flee­ing a ghost, as Hurst’s cur­rent predica­ment demon­strates.

That is why no man­ager should be shamed for look­ing out for No.1 – and least of all by some­body run­ning a foot­ball club.

Chris Dunlavy A fresh take on foot­ball

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