Paul Hurst’s recent career has been a strange one to track. He was on an up-and-up trajectory as recently as 2018 but an ill-fated move to Ipswich Town saw his stock fall almost as quickly as it had risen.
He took the surprising decision to take charge at Scunthorpe United, a club not far from his home and one he clearly felt he could work with despite their recent relegation to League Two.
A tricky start led to a few supporters questioning his appointment but there were a number of circumstances beyond his control.
Thanks to an impressive 2-0 win away at high-flying Forest Green at the weekend, the Iron are not unbeaten in six league games and on a run of just two defeats in the last 13 League Two outings.
Here are threes reason why he has been able to turn things around…
Time is always of the essence but more precious than you can imagine
Scunthorpe opened the campaign with six defeats from seven and the Iron were left languishing near the foot of the Football League. Dissenting voices were not far behind but to his credit, club chairman Peter Swann gave Hurst the vote of confidence and actually meant what he said.
"I can only state that our plans have never changed from when we as a club decided to bring Paul in on a two-year contract,” Swann said in a statement.
“He has been allowed to bring in the players he wanted and it is no surprise to me that it has taking a number of games to get going. Add to this some unfortunate injuries which have impacted on our smaller squad and you can see why we are where we are.
"I have been put under tremendous pressure after last season and our relegation to try and change the way we do things at the club and that is exactly what I have done, giving a manager a mandate over two years and sticking with that regardless of how he starts, results wise and I will continue to do that.”
He was true to his word, a rare trait in a modern chairman, and he has reaped the rewards as have Scunthorpe United fans.
Paul Hurst's men have conjured up five league and cup wins on the spin
Key players have returned
How many times have we heard managers use injuries as an excuse for poor form or a bad run of result?
Too many but in Paul Hurst’s case he did have a point. The treatment room could hardly have been big enough for all the players that had spent time out for one reason or another.
Key men like Kevin van Veen, Ryan Colclough and Lee Novak have all been out but since they have returned the form has been much better.
In particular, Van Veen, Scunthorpe’s top scorer with five, has been a big reason for this. The unpredictable forward can produce moments of magic which can win tight games; in a division like League Two this is often decisive. Ryan Colclough has also been missed. After suffering a severe knee injury last season, the club have rightly eased him back to fitness and it is fair to say he is not quite at where he was, but is getting ever closer.
Finally having Lee Novak fit at this level is huge. He is a proven goal scorer and has already netted four times despite missing several weeks through injury, he should easily get double figures this season.
The injury problems are not yet over and discipline needs addressing with the Iron having received four red cards in League Two this season, but things are certainly better than they were, giving Hurst a big boost.
⬆️ Paul Hurst up to a 3️⃣5️⃣% win ratio https://t.co/l1HYWwnX5r— Iron Stats (@iron_stats) December 7, 2019
He knows the level
The final thing to mention is Paul Hurst is an excellent manager. He did well with Grimsby without ever getting the credit he deserved and then proved what his work ethic can achieve in a remarkable season-and-a-half with Shrewsbury.
Things at Ipswich didn’t work out how he would have liked and he perhaps should have been given longer but you don’t become a bad manager overnight. Taking the Scunthorpe job was a risk but he has fantastic ability, tactical acumen and works tirelessly.
If he is given the time, Scunthorpe will go places and his name will soon be linked to jobs higher up the pyramid before you can say up the Iron.