Slowly but surely the magic of Paul Hurst is beginning to rub off on Scunthorpe United following their horrendous start to the 2019/20 campaign. The Iron lost six out of their seven opening matches of the League Two season, leaving them rooted to the foot of the table.
However, since the early stages of September, United have been on the rise and are now pushing into mid-table. Hurst’s men have reeled off a five-match unbeaten run in the league, at the time of writing, after seeing off Port Vale on home soil. The club are trending in the right direction, although they’re well off the pace for a playoff position. Scunthorpe are being backed in the latest football betting odds at 16/1 to be promoted, which would be a huge achievement for Hurst in his first full season.
Stability is the name of the game for the Iron after they were relegated from League One last term. It takes time to shift a losing mentality and it appears that after initial struggles, Hurst has his team singing from the same hymn sheet. Hurst himself needs to restore his reputation after he failed in his audition in the Championship.
After successful spells with Grimsby and Shrewsbury, the 45-year-old was tasked with guiding Ipswich back into contention in the Championship for a place in the Premier League. However, he won only one of his 15 games in charge of the Tractor Boys and was sacked by the end of October 2018. The Iron have offered him a chance for redemption and he has been impressive after riding out the tough start to the season.
Hurst’s time at Grimsby saw him inherit a team that was fresh off relegation to the National League. Alongside Rob Scott, he guided the Mariners into the playoffs three years into their reign where they crashed out in the semi-final stage. Hurst took sole charge of the side in the 2013/14 campaign and again had his team in the playoffs, only to be beaten once again by Gateshead. It was not third time lucky for Grimsby as on this occasion their hearts were broken by Bristol Rovers in the playoff final. However, on the fourth time into the playoffs, it was joy at last as Hurst guided his side back into League Two with a victory over Forest Green Rovers.
Hurst was snapped up Shrewsbury the following season, who were struggling at the foot of League One. First he guided them to stability in the division before making a charge up the table in his second campaign, placing third in a dramatic turnaround. Unfortunately for Hurst, he endured familiar pain in the playoffs losing in the final to Rotherham United. The Ipswich job was not one he could pass up, and although it proved to be a disaster for the 45-year-old, the Tractor Boys were heading in the wrong direction for quite some time.
He will have learned from that experience and it can only be a good sign for the Iron that he has displayed his old magic thus far at Glanford Park. It may not happen this season, but it will not be a surprise to see Scunthorpe back in League One within two years due to the quality of their manager.