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Paul Hurst post Oxford United

30 April 2017

Gaffer's thoughts after final game of the season at Oxford

Paul Hurst described the achievement of keeping Shrewsbury Town in League One as one of the best of his managerial career so far.

Town lost 2-0 to Oxford at the Kassam Stadium but results elsewhere ensured Hurst’s side an 18th place finish in the league this season.

The club were bottom and six points away from safety when the manager took over in October, and he compared the escape to his previous career success.

“I don’t want to get carried away because we’re staying in the league – not winning promotion – but for me it’s right up there with the promotions that I’ve had.

“I wanted a challenge, and it certainly has been, but I’m delighted for everyone connected to the football club.”

Hurst was keen to acknowledge the support of his staff and of course the performances of the players in pulling Town clear of relegation.

“I’m proud of it but from me and Chris, it’s only been helped by the group of staff that we’ve got.

“We have a group of players that have ultimately dug in, and bought into what we’re trying to do.”

The boss was also keen to highlight the improvement that the club has made, and described the feeling around the squad when he arrived.

“I came in and saw how low confidence was, there was no togetherness.

“Overall, the achievement to stay in the league is far greater than it sounds, as we were only six points away when I came in.”

Focus now turns to the next campaign, with decisions to be made for the manager over the summer before the squad return for pre season.

Hurst was keen to set a date to ensure that fans are kept in the loop regarding the ongoing contract situations of the playing staff.

“Some are out of contract, some are in contract, I want to work with people that want to play week in, week out.”

He continued: “We’ll have to see how those scenarios progress over the summer, in the mean time I’ve certainly got some work to do with moulding the squad, and we’ve got some targets in mind.

“Certainly before the end of next week we’ll be able to put something out and inform the fans what the plans are.

The game at Oxford also saw the debut of academy product John McAtee, with Callum Roberts also on the bench.

Hurst is keen to introduce the youngsters into the first team squad – with five of them signing professional deals recently - but admits that he will look to mix them in with some more experiences heads.

“John’s made his debut today but that doesn’t necessarily mean he’s going to be the next Messi or Ronaldo.

“The opportunity is there for them, and alongside it we want a few good older professionals - with the attitudes that mirror those of myself and Chris – that want to go out there and give everything for themselves and the football club.

“All of those five lads have got to work harder than anyone to get into the matchday squad on a regular basis.”