Opinion: An open letter to Paul Hurst

To all regular contributors on here, I’m going to try to summarise general feelings and impressions – both from Iron Bru and from others I know who do not come on here. My sincerest apologies if I do not get this totally right.Firstly, a very warm welcome to the new management team. (I’m pretty sure that I’ll have 100% on board with that one.)

The fans are jaded after a number of seasons when entertainment has been at a premium. There was a half season when the Iron were superb but an if-it-ain’t-broke-then-do-attempt-to-fix-it mentality wrecked everything. (Something most managers would avoid like the plague, of course.)

Charlie Wilson in the ST mentioned that the Iron were effectively incapable of playing any system last season. He was certainly correct about the personnel in his remarks.

The knock-on effect from this – for reasons wholly unclear – was to play a diamond formation as our default. The deficiencies of this were obvious to all as The Iron cast away points with abandon throughout the entire season. This was a major cause of disappointment to the paying public as one manager after another seemed incapable of seeing that it wasn’t working. You would have thought that the points tally alone might have acted as a wake-up call – or at the very least – some sort of a clue!

By now, Mr Hurst, you will have heard ad nauseam about how we failed to replace class players from the previous season. This was always going to be an issue but few could have predicted how many seriously below par performances would come from seasoned professionals.

Fans have become profoundly suspicious of loan signings as so very many have failed to impress. Naturally enough, a proportion has been excellent.

The squad lacked: balance, leadership, intelligence, often skill, pace – and to be totally frank – guts and basic common sense.

The players appeared to be unfit at the start of the season. Not something easy for fans to judge – maybe it was just the disparate tactics being employed.

To be honest, we have no idea whether Kyle Wootton is a star-in-the-making or not. There seem to be so very many positive pointers but when he is rarely given the ball – how can we know?
IMHO – and not a universally popular view – I was amazed by the number of goals scored by Lee Novak who probably had less service than any other forward I’ve seen in an Iron shirt over the last 53 years.

Many comments have been made to me about how pedestrian the Iron have been at throw-ins over a number of years. Long throws are as rare as rocking horse droppings.

Worse however, over a similar period, have been the occasions when an adequate – and sometimes inadequate – defence has been asked to soak up huge pressure to protect a lead and often with half an hour remaining. The consequences of this negative thinking have – all too often – meant the surrender of possession and the inevitable consequences.

It is not for me to tell a manager what tactics to employ but I think that you ought to be aware that 11 men back to defend corners and free kicks really angers the fans. Maybe with some pace in the squad, that would not be deemed necessary.

You will be called out on occasions when you inevitably know more about a situation than the fans could possibly do. This applies to: use of substitutions; systems; selections; positional changes and so on. For this I apologise wholeheartedly.

Take me as a barometer, if you will. I shall not attack you in any way as you find your feet; I shall understand if you take a risk or two which backfires; I shall be extremely slow to criticise your team selections or your choice of new players.

Indeed, I shall not criticise you at all until you show that you have failed to learn from experience or have adopted the kind of negative mindset which has led inexorably to the demise of our last half dozen managers.

I support you 100% as you begin your career with us and suspect that almost all the fans on Iron Bru will be doing the same. (I must apologise for those who will go into panic mode should we lose two matches on the trot, though.)

I feel that you have been an excellent choice by the Board.

I trust that readers will feel that I have represented them to a pretty decent degree. If not – apologies.

Very best wishes.


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