Question of the WeekWho will win the National League?
Paul Hurst: Success Story?
By: Richard Warman
AFTER the defeat at Gateshead, Grimsby Town?s first in 9 games there was the knee-jerk reaction from some fans. Defeat at some stage was inevitable but of course after this tragic event knives were out for Paul Hurst. After this I thought it would be a good time to reflect on Paul?s achievements to date and what next for him and the Mariners.
After Paul Hurst & Rob Scott?s appointment opinions were mixed and fans split which to an extent is still the case with Hurst in charge as solo manager. Fans and the media have a reason to think success has not yet been achieved on one front with Hurst as manager, but on many fronts it actually has.
Attendances are higher this season on average than the last six (even the four seasons before when season we remained a league club). There?s a more optimistic approach inside the club and out. Before we started enjoying some success there was a toxic atmosphere around the club almost a cancer , acceptance of mediocre players who came for one last payday at a desperate club who had lost its identity , who had little or connection with each other or the fans .Seated in the main stand during our fall from grace the atmosphere was from a minority that of contempt , these people loved nothing more than a ?bad Saturday? almost willing/waiting for the next episode , luckily this mind-set has all but disappeared and there?s a better feeling of togetherness between the fans and players. Some fans of course think they know better with the ever evolving world of social media and the popularity of ?football manager? (around since 1992) fans think they could pick up the next Cherno Samba or Freddy Adu. Realistically things are a lot more difficult than that. What I think has been a major factor in Paul?s consistency as manager is his sensible approach to player recruitment, he seems thorough not just with his selection based on ability but also on character. Yes, there?s been the odd bad signing but on the whole he?s chosen people who will buy into his thinking not just players with the ability to play higher but who have got the right attitude. Players seem to genuinely want to play for the club and wear the shirt with pride.
When fans suggest its ?time for a change? surely half way through a season this would be a reckless approach, a new manager would want to bring his own personnel in and change things around. Even if we are not promoted this season there would be an argument to stick with Hurst. He?s consistently kept us in the Play-offs and looks like doing so this season, which in itself would be an achievement as on the whole teams after Play-off defeat the previous season haven?t fared well the season after. Opinion that a new manager would somehow magic us into league are unrealistic. Yes, it could happen but would be unlikely, if Hurst was replaced you would be playing roulette, yes there?s managers who are almost guarantees of promotion out of the conference- think martin Allen or Gary Johnson but I highly doubt they would be willing to relocate up north or move clubs. For every Allen or Johnson there is a Mike Newell or Nicky Law. One bad appointment and things could take a turn for the worse, and things can be worse just ask fans of Stockport County or Hereford Utd . Teams that go up from the Conference are either bankrolled to some extent or have a manager who has ?been there and done it ?and fans of teams who have a more historic past in the league seem to look down and criticize them like it?s not allowed. Let?s be honest if our club was offered a sugar daddy we would accept it with open arms. It?s great for these clubs, on club size alone we would never have been in the Championship !.
For me Hurst is a good manager but not great , but the same as players at this level if he was he wouldn?t be here .With Hurst?s calm demeanour and assurance I genuinely don?t have the feeling things could get any worse and I have trust in him like none since that in Sir Alan Buckley?s 98 historic season , It looks like this season unless things take a dramatic turn we will be looking at the lottery of the play offs again, for some I know it?s not enough but perspective is sometimes required if not wanted . Be it that scenario again hopefully football fortune will be shining down on us this time. If Paul Hurst achieves the objective of getting us back into the football league he will go down as a legend in Grimsby town history, not just a successful and good manager.
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