Shrewsbury Town have confirmed the re-appointment of Paul Hurst as head coach, following the dismissal of Matt Taylor on Sunday.
The 49-year-old joins the club in a slightly better position than when he first arrived in 2016, with the club in twentieth spot. They do though only have a buffer of four points between themselves and Reading in the drop zone, and the Royals have a game in hand.
Taylor was sacked following the weekend’s defeat to promotion contenders Peterborough United; the result was made more disappointing after Jordan Shipley had given the Shropshire side a first-half lead.
That was a sixth league loss in seven, and left Salop anxiously looking over their shoulder, particularly with Reading unbeaten in seven of their last eight League One games. Near neighbours Wrexham also dumped the Shrews out of the FA Cup, only adding to the pressure that faced the former Walsall head coach.
“I wanted to work for the chairman again and represent the football club. It was never in doubt that I wanted to come back.”
“It’s been a real desire on my part to return. You never know if you’re going to get that opportunity, but thankfully I’m sat here today and that’s come true. I’m really happy to come back and see some familiar faces.”
The former Rotherham United defender enjoyed a hugely successful stint at Croud Meadow after taking the reigns in 2016, following Micky Mellon’s departure. Hurst himself had left Grimsby after guiding them to the Football League, and took over with the Shrews at the foot of the third tier.
After saving the club from relegation, he then guided the club into the Play-Offs and to the EFL Trophy Final in his second season. The season finale ended in heartbreak though, with Rotherham winning 2-1. The game was a repeat of the 1996 EFL Trophy Final, in which Hurst played for the Millers, but this time he didn’t get the sweet taste of success.
With over a week of the window remaining, Hurst will be looking to bring in some January recruits. That is something that director of football Micky Moore addressed when speaking to the Shropshire Star earlier today:
“I told Paul the players on our list, we have had a conversation and Paul did some work on players we spoke about. One has gone to another L1 club, Paul didn’t think he was right for us at this time.”
“We’ll have to work quickly to see if we can deliver what he wants. There is a domino effect in football and it hasn’t started. It always picks up during the last week. I won’t bring a player in unless they are better than what we’ve got.”
A trip to Northampton awaits, before he returns to the home dugout for the first time in five and a half years against Cambridge United a week on Saturday.
If there’s a man to guide the Shrews away from danger, then it has to be Paul Hurst. This love affair has been rekindled at a crucial time, with eight days of the window remaining. As Micky Moore addressed, the football chain of movement will start next week, so incomings can be expected soon enough.
This is a chance for the former Ipswich manager to build on his time at Grimsby, after contrasting spells with the Tractor Boys and Scunthorpe United. After winning promotion twice with the Mariners, Hurst will once again have to draw on his survival expertise to keep Salop in the third tier. If things click like the first time around, then it should be mission successful.