We have the new home and away kits that are pleasing to the eye and a new manager who is truly inspirational by all accounts. So what is there not to like about the season ahead? After so many years of stagnation at Portman Road it looks like, at long last, the feel-good factor is back in Town!
Now I have said here before that Paul Hurst was not my prefered choice for this job but the more I read about him and his assistant Chris Doig the more I like. We all know that this appointment is a bit risky but it is a calculated risk in my view and one that is well worth taking. The pair tick most of the boxes that supporters wanted in a new coach. At 43, Hurst is at around the right age to push on, and although he has not managed a Championship club before, he is an ambitious chap and has got to this point through hard work and endeavour, at the lower reaches of professional football.
What adds to this general sense of optimism is that having managed four different clubs, Hurst has always progressed to better things and even though he has taken on some monumental tasks, he has never been fired! I think this time around owner Marcus Evans had a clear vision and he needed someone who could accommodate, almost to the letter, his much vaunted five-point plan. For the record, that plan consists of developing players, stable management ideals, playing pleasing on the eye football, getting the kids into the first team squad and of course, the ‘biggy’, which is to work within a financially sustainable budget!
His right-hand man is Chris Doig and they are, in truth, completely different characters – not only in size but also in personality. Doig shoots from the hip and if he does not like something he will make it abundantly clear. They complement each other in many ways and I suppose could be compared to the good cop bad cop image – although it must be said that players have warmed to Doig’s honesty which is what a lot of players want.
Doig was a centre-back, who shared defensive duties with our very own Luke Chambers at Northampton, and although Chambers is yet to comment on this appointment I feel sure, like Alan Lee, who also worked with Paul Hurst earlier in his playing career, it will turn out to be a positive one.
The two new men at the helm start with a clean slate and unlike when Mick McCarthy took over when Town were at the bottom of the table, they inherit a good squad with lots of talent coming back from long-term injuries and some youthful prospects on the cusp of the first team picture already.
Finishing mid-table last season was a bitter disappointment after such an excellent start to our campaign but Hurst and Doig have the opportunity to kick-on next term with a squad that really only needs a bit of fine-tuning.
FW – editor of Vital Ipswich