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Club News

Fans Forum round-up - October 2019

30 October 2019

Last Thursday night saw Scunthorpe United host their latest Fans’ Forum at the Sands Venue Stadium, and we thank everyone who attended.

Manager Paul Hurst, assistant manager Chris Doig and captain Andy Butler answered a number of questions from supporters during the near-two hour event.

Here is a round-up of some of the topics...

On the management’s hopes of continuing the upturn in recent performances and results, and whether they think the play-offs are achievable still…
PH: 
I certainly hope so. If you look at League Two, as myself and Chris certainly did when we were out of work, we felt in this division you always have a chance because you can finish seventh and get in the play-offs. Last March when we looked at it for instance, there were a lot of teams who still had an opportunity. There’s a lot of hard work to do but it’s still very early in the season. We’ve shown signs of improvement recently and hope to continue that trend. If that’s the case, then you never know. I certainly haven’t given up on it and I hope the fans haven’t, but there’s still a long way to go. I’d expect us to get better as the season progresses so we’ll see where that takes us. We’ll also see what happens in January (when the transfer window re-opens). The aim is to slowly climb the table and be in contention for that seventh spot in January, closing the gap and then keep progressing. If we do that, then something could be achievable but we’ve certainly made it difficult with the start we’ve had. The main aim is to keep improving and if we do that, naturally we’ll climb the table.

On targets for the January transfer window and the impact experienced players like Andy Butler and Jamie Ward have made to the group…
PH: 
We had a meeting on Thursday afternoon, myself, Chris and Lee (Turnbull, head of recruitment) looking towards January and recruitment because naturally squads evolve – whether that’s players moving on to new pastures because that’s what they want to do, or whether that’s decisions you make as a manager. As a manager, you very rarely get what you want in a transfer window and while I brought in quite a few players, we did inherit 19 players plus the Under-23s, and coming in following a relegation you want to make changes - there is no hiding that fact. How many we go on to make will be determined by how we do between now and January. We like certain types of players

AB: Jamie has been a good addition to the squad, commands a lot of respect and speaks well. I try and be as level as I can – never too high, never too low and throughout the season we need that consistency. The players have started to show what they can do and hopefully you can see improvements in the performances. It’s about an upward trend.

On the team’s poor start to the season and also Kevin van Veen’s recent upturn in form…
PH: 
We started off with a certain system that ultimately wasn’t quite working for us at that time. I think the first day of the season, if Matthew Lund’s shot had gone in against Swindon rather than hit the post, it might have got us going earlier, but it was a sticky start and there’s no getting away from that. We demand certain standards and one of those is hard work for the team, whether that’s in training or in a game. To be fair to Kevin, he came on in the first home game but was then injured for two or three weeks, so I couldn’t have picked him then. He’s better than League Two and ultimately whether he stays there it will be in his hands because he has the ability. I’m much more about the team than individuals and how people are day-in, day-out. Hopefully he can fulfil his potential now. There’s never been any fall-out, what we have had is a frank conversation about what is expected of him and he’s taken that on board. I feel like we’re making progress there.

On the run that’s seen the team not win away since January…
PH: 
It’s puzzling because the attitude to every game is to win, irrespective of what the league table or anything says. If we turn up on any given day, we can beat anybody, and that’s not false optimism. A true sign of when you have a good team, with the mentality and character, is going away from home and winning games of football, so the next challenge for the squad is to show they’ve got that. I don’t want to travel home from Newport, etc with nothing - you want to be celebrating victory. This is my livelihood and what pays to feed and clothe my kids, so it means a lot, but at the same time I appreciate you put your time and money into it, and we do everything we can to get the players ready and up for the game.

On the Adam Hammill situation…
PH: 
It’s pretty obvious that he hasn’t endeared himself to us. I can’t go into too much detail other than he didn’t meet the standards that we asked for.

On changing the culture…
PH:
A lot goes into making a good squad and good team, and clearly something hasn’t been quite right at the football club in the last year or so. We have to try and change that, and it’s been more difficult than we first envisaged because you don’t find everything out until you’re in the club and working.

On whether they’d prefer players in before pre-season or at the point of the transfer deadline…
PH: 
100 per cent, if possible, you’d want your squad in as early as you can. Ultimately some targets aren’t available until later on in the window but realistically you’d want them in from day one, especially when you’re new to the job and want to get instruction into them. Fitness-wise, it’s important too. If I think back to our time at Shrewsbury, we got most of that squad in place early and saw the benefits of that. Moving forward that’s what we’d like to do next season. You do sometimes have to wait for a player, who maybe is wanting to move on loan to a higher league and it doesn’t quite happen for him, and then you can bring them in.

On the main priority when they came into the club…
PH: 
The message we gave was that it was a new start for everybody, and hopefully we can start winning games and compete at the right end of the league. There’s no doubt in my mind that there was a hangover of some kind. At the same time, it’s about looking forward and more positively. Going back to that first game of the season, if it had been a different result does that change the course? Going back to Shrewsbury, we won in the 93rd minute of the first game of the (2017-18) season and that set the tone for it. It does feel like things have been improving but overall I don’t think too many performances have been that bad, but it does almost become a mental block where you find a way to lose a game rather than win it. We’ve still realistically won four games of football, and need to win more until that really gets into the players’ minds and they know exactly how to win a game.

On the potential of players coming through from the Under-18 side…
CD: 
The manager goes and watches the Under-18s. I know that doesn’t happen at the majority of clubs but the manager taking that interest boosts the staff and the players, and it gives them a lift. You also see that in training too. Some lads have come through here and the plan is to develop our own and see them come through. The one a lot of people have talked about is Joey Dawson, and a lot of the other lads have done well too. The Under-23s is a big thing for us and there’s a good set-up within the club to help youngsters and give them the opportunity to progress at their rate. The lads grow physically at different stages and some take longer than others, but there’s a good opportunity to develop here and progress. It’s something we’re very big on, and we take a lot of interest in that. It comes down to the players – if they make the sacrifices, work hard, progress and show a willingness to be a footballer, and play well, they will be involved. There’s definitely a pathway for youngsters and it’s aided by the Under-23s in the longer-term.

PH: (Under-23s manager) Russ Wilcox is an experienced manager and won promotion here, he’s a club legend and gives good guidance to the young players as well, fitting into the standards of what we expect from them. With Tony Daws too, the club is set up for young lads to succeed. Ultimately they have to be good enough and they have to show the attitude to want to be a footballer. You find some young players like the idea of being a footballer but do they want to put in the hard work to be that? We do feel we have good young players who hopefully in time will represent the club. I heard the fans sing the other night ‘Levi Sutton, he’s one of our own’, and ultimately we’d like more to come through and have their own songs about them.

On whether there’s benefit in one of the management staff watching the game from a different vantage point…
PH: 
Earlier in the season, I did go up into the gantry to watch the game and get a different view, but I find that more difficult to do when things aren’t going so well because it looks like you’re abandoning your team, not being on the sidelines with them. However, when we do win more games it’s something I will think about revisiting.

On the impact the new signings have made…
PH: 
Some of them have done well, and some will get better I think. You do your research, due diligence, speak to managers and watch footage and matches. Some lads take time to settle in too. There were some good players here last season but the team didn’t get the results they should. Your best eleven players don’t make a good team. There’s so much that goes into what makes success. Overall, the players who have come in have contributed and brought better performances and standards on the training pitch, as well as on matchday, and also competition.

On whether Clayton Lewis will be involved following his return from international duty with New Zealand Under-23s…
PH: 
Because of where he’s from and how football is there, qualifying for the Olympics is a really good achievement for him. He’s come back and will be part of the group moving forward, and we’ll see how he progresses.

On why Andy Butler came back to Scunthorpe…
AB: 
I always said I’d like to come back and finish my career here. Going back to what was being said about youth football, if I’d had just had a two-year apprenticeship I don’t think I’d have made it. The three-year scholarships of that time gave me the chance to make it at Scunthorpe United. When the gaffer, Doigy and Turny rang it was a no-brainer., Admittedly I’ve not been at my best form so far, but if I’m not playing I will always back the players in front of me. I’m here to help the team out and I feel I can give to the squad and team. I’m still learning at 35, and really enjoy football. I’ve not been at my best but that will come hopefully and, if or when the time comes I’ll be ready.

On what the management learned from their time at Ipswich…
PH: 
I learned it takes time to change a mentality and environment, and ultimately if you’re not given that time it won’t happen. It also showed how important timing is when it comes to jobs. The easy thing would have been to stay at Shrewsbury. I had a fantastic time there, and loved the people. We went in bottom of the league there, clearly needed to change the squad around and did that in the January – with eight in, eight out. There were further changes the following summer and I still couldn’t have predicted it would have gone as well as it did. We went to Ipswich and were told Martyn Waghorn wanted to leave and had been offered a big increase, we lost Adam Webster who is now in the Premier League. Joe Garner left, while David McGoldrick left before we got there. We lost all the goals in the team and that proved difficult. Even after we left, the results showed what a difficult job it was. It’s easy to regret a decision but I’m a big believer that you have to give it a go. They’re doing well again now in League One and hopefully they can push on. It’s been a slow start here and we’re looking ahead, while still focused on the here and now too, but hopefully everyone can see what we’re trying to achieve, and that’s to bring success back here, and put smiles back on faces.

On racism in football…
PH:
It’s clearly not right and you’d like to think society has moved in, but there’s no place for it. Regarding our players, I’d have no issue with the team coming off the pitch if they felt it was the right thing to do. First and foremost, you’re relying on the stewards to remove them but I’m sure the club as a whole would ban people who do that.

On ambitions while here…
PH: 
Ultimately when we leave a football club, we want to leave it in a better place. We’re looking to raise the standards of the club so the next person who comes in has got an easier job. If you have a ten-year contract and you know for a fact you’ll be there in ten years’ time, you can talk about lots of other things, but It’s about making the environment the right one and getting people working for you. All we’re about is trying to improve the club overall. Hopefully we’ll do that. Everyone has different ways of working. The staff that were here already have had to adjust to the way we work. We’re big believers in working hard and doing things correctly, pushing people and trying to make them the best versions of themselves. Hopefully that can create a good football team.

On the support the Chairman’s provided…
PH: 
(When results weren’t going well) he could have turned around and said “I don’t think it’s working” and moved on, but hopefully he can see what we’re trying to do will bear fruits in the future. He’s been supportive of what we’re trying to achieve. We’ll be working extremely hard to make it a better season, strive to improve and get the results that make everyone’s weekends better.

On George Miller’s spell with the club so far…
PH:
At the moment he’s injured and is receiving treatment back at Barnsley currently. He’s still a young lad and, looking at moments again, he showed promise on his debut at Macclesfield and on another day if his shot that hit the bar went in, it would have done him the world of good. He found it difficult with Kev coming in and doing well, while Jamie Proctor and Jamie Ward have joined, and Lee Novak has come back from injury. He’s still a very young player who realistically will need to play to progress, whether that’s here or elsewhere moving forward only time will tell. We do have a lot of competition in the forward areas now. When we signed him, we only had Kyle Wootton fit in the striking department. We felt he’d give us a different option and run in behind defences, and we still feel that’s one of his biggest strengths.

On James Perch’s wonder goal against Exeter and his form…
PH: 
It was certainly a fantastic goal and he’s a player who, like Rory McArdle, fits into the category where he’s doing a lot better than he was last year, and that’s what we want the players who were here last season to do.

On the Bury situation…
PH: 
It was very sad what happened to Bury, but I just think you’ve got to run your football club properly. You have to be in charge of your own house. The sad thing for Bury is their fans now don’t have a football team to support.

On the situation with Kyle Wootton, Olufela Olomola and Cameron Burgess…
PH: 
We’ll look at them. I watched Kyle for Notts County against Dagenham the other week and we’ll keep assessing him. Lee Turnbull has been to watch Fela too. The door isn’t shut on them entirely though and we’ll keep assessing.

On Grimsby away in December…
PH: 
It’s human nature to look for those (fixtures against former sides, when the fixtures come out) and we were fortunate enough to draw them in the Leasing.com Trophy and managed to beat them, albeit we know it will be two very different teams that take to the field on December 21st. I’m looking forward to the atmosphere. When we were on the other side, walking out at Blundell Park, even before the ground was full you could hear the buzz outside the stadium. I hope we can be on the winning side and it would make everyone’s Christmas even better.


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