Moving on - Town have parted company with Paul Hurst Picture: Chris Jarvis

IN the end it was an inevitable parting of the ways.

A lost cause and a matter of when, not if.

Ipswich Town’s decision to part company with Paul Hurst was on the cards as soon as the final whistle blew at the end of Saturday’s dismal defeat against QPR.

It was the point of no return and effectively the final whistle on his short tenure as Town boss, even if he was given a stay of execution at Leeds United on Wednesday.

There was no turning back after such a limp, meek performance in front of the disgruntled Portman Road faithful.

Wednesday’s defeat then proved the final straw, the latest in a catalogue of sub-standard results and performances and one that finally triggered action in the boardroom.

Inevitable it may have been but that doesn’t make the separation any less painful or upsetting.

Hurst was in charge for less than five months but it seems a lifetime ago that he was unveiled amid a tidal wave of hope, optimism and positivity.

He was seen as the saviour – young, fresh, ambitious and dynamic. The polar opposite to previous incumbent Mick McCarthy.

His raft of summer signings were of a similar ilk, keen and hungry to make their mark at a higher level, and the feelgood factor continued with an encouraging, pleasing-on-the-eye pre-season friendly against West Ham, at Portman Road.

It felt like a weight had been lifted. The dawn of a new era.

How little we knew because, sadly, nothing could have been further from the truth.

With hindsight, Hurst’s shake-up of the squad was too radical – too much, too soon.

The likes of Toto Nsiala, Janoi Donacien, Jon Nolan, Ellis Harrison and Kayden Jackson had rich potential but lacked experience, untried at Championship level. A problem compounded by the exits of seasoned campaigners like David McGoldrick and Martyn Waghorn.

It was a brave overhaul but one that transpired to be a major error of judgement.


Set to take the reins - former Colchester United boss Paul Lambert, pictured here on the day he was unveiled U's boss in October 2008

The new recruits failed to make their mark and that has resulted in a stream of poor results, apart from Hurst’s solitary victory at Swansea City on October 6.

In fairness, Town were rarely outplayed.

They had bright spells in most games but it was clear from the start that issues at the business ends of the pitch – leaking too many goals, scoring too few – would become their Achilles heel.

And so it proved.

Hurst will be remembered as the club’s shortest-serving manager in their professional history, his reign lasting just 149 days and 15 matches.

Like his players, the step up proved too big a gap to bridge.

He never seemed sure of his best side, constantly chopping and changing and deploying every formation from 3-5-2 to 4-4-2.

In the end, it smacked of desperation.

Nevertheless, despite the struggles, Hurst deserves respect and is clearly a very decent, honest and honourable man.

Everyone was desperate for it to work out for him but, unfortunately, it just wasn’t to be.

So what next for Town?

By all accounts, former Colchester United boss Paul Lambert is a shoe-in to be appointed, possibly as soon as Friday, with Bryan Klug manfully taking the reins again at Millwall on Saturday.

I have to be honest and say I don’t know how I feel about that.

I liked the prospect of a young, up-and-coming manager.

Hurst seemed the perfect remedy for what had become a stale, toxic environment under McCarthy.

Then again, given all that’s happened in the last five months, perhaps this is the perfect time for an older, more experienced hand on the tiller.

Someone who’s been there and done it, both as a player and manager.

Town are in dire straits.

Bottom of the table, starved of confidence and in desperate need of a lift.

Maybe, hopefully, Lambert will be the man to provide that spark, to lift the club from the doldrums and get them moving in the right direction again.

Only time will tell.