Gaffer looks ahead to FA Cup tie against West Ham
Shrewsbury Town boss Paul Hurst has called on his players to be ‘positive’ when they take on West Ham in the Third Round of the Emirates FA Cup on Sunday.
A full house will attend the Montgomery Waters Meadow to see League One’s second-placed side take on Premier League opposition.
Town have exceeded expectations already this season with their form in the league Paul admits that the game could be seen as a ‘free hit’.
“I don’t really like that phrase, but in a lot of ways it is,” Hurst told ShrewsWeb.
“We aren’t all going to go home and think that’s the end of the road and our season’s over if we lose against West Ham on Sunday, so I want us to try and be as positive as possible, but with it in mind that we are playing against higher quality players and if we leave too many gaps the chances are we will get exploited.
“At the same time, we are at home and I think all the cup upsets that I can remember start off with the underdogs trying to take the game to the fancied team. I don’t want to become a team that sit back and then a lucky clearance goes over the goalkeepers head and wins the game.
“I want us to really try and be on the front foot and ask questions, but we know there will be large parts of the game where West Ham will dominate possession and that’s when we need to be in a good shape, have a focus and have a concentration about us.”
Hurst is well aware that the game has been chosen by the BBC with an upset in mind, but he feels that could make it even more difficult.
“They think there’s a possibility of an upset don’t they”, admitted Paul.
“That’s not lost on myself, but I think it makes it slightly more difficult if anything because that won’t be lost on West Ham. If I was David Moyes’ shoes I would be saying to my players that the TV cameras are here for one thing and one thing only, so it doesn’t happen today.
“From that point of view I think it make things a little bit trickier and maybe reduces the odds of it happening, but it’s happened in the past to teams and we just want to see if we can be the story of the weekend and cause that upset.”
A busy Premier League schedule could see David Moyes rest one or two players for the FA Cup game, but Paul expects them to be very strong regardless.
“I think it might be alright still”, joked Hurst.
“Even if it is some younger players that haven’t cut their teeth yet play they should still have some quality about them and I can’t think for one minute that David Moyes would send a team out that he doesn’t think is capable of beating us.
“Professional pride and the desire to win are all going to be there still, so yes there might be some names that we aren’t as familiar with, but I still think there will be some very good players on show and ones that will no doubt punish us if we aren’t on our game.”
The difficulty of the game isn’t lost on Paul and he feels his players will need to defend well to give themselves a chance of getting a positive result.
“I think we’ve not got to be overawed first and foremost by the occasion”, Paul said.
“We can’t stand and be in awe of the players in front of us if there are some well-known names out there. We’ve got to be positive in our mind-set, we’ve got to stay focussed and concentrate in terms of the team shape and defensively.
“Touchwood, we’ve been very good defensively this year and not really given too much away, certainly not glaringly at least, so from that point of view we’ve got to make sure we’re not making any really basic errors and if we do all of that and try and get on the ball ourselves then I think we’ve got players that on their day can cause problems for them.”