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Post Leyton Orient | Paul Hurst

27 April 2024


Post Leyton Orient | Paul Hurst

27 April 2024

Boss Paul Hurst met with the press following our final match of the 2023/24 season.

In what was a game of two halves for Town, a disappointing first-half performance saw Orient go into the break 2-0 up thanks to goals from Daniel Adu-Adjei and Ethan Galbraith.

They then made it 3-0 shortly after the re-start through Dan Agyei.

Salop, though, improved drastically from that point and pulled one back through Dan Udoh.

Goalkeeper Sam Howes then made outstanding saves to deny both Dan and Jordan Shipley as Town pushed to make a come-back.

Speaking to the assembled media, Paul discussed the game and gave his thoughts on the season as a whole.

And the boss also confirmed our retained and released list will be published imminently.

On the game: 

“It’s not the way we wanted to sign off. Of course, it isn’t. 

“We still have to talk about today. But I think the hard work was done in the weeks before – culminating in last weekend’s draw at Charlton. 

“But today in that first period, the players – in my opinion – were not at it. 

“Tactically, we wanted to try and stick to the way we had been the last couple of games. But that wasn’t working either. 

“I take some responsibility for that as well. 

“But I think that’s an indication of where we are at.  

“I don’t think we have been overall to say, 100%, this is us and everyone else has to worry about us. 

“I think we have had to adapt and change at various points and that kind of sums up where we are at.” 

On a much-improved performance after the break: 

“I think, in general, second half we were a lot better. 

“In the end – as silly as it was with how the first half had gone – we probably should have got something from the game. 

“When we missed the first chance with Jordan Shipley – I was stood there thinking that probably sums the season up in terms of conceding too many goals and not scoring enough goals. 

“But then we got a good goal through Dan’s header. He then missed another chance. 

“We had a couple of other things. It was much improved. But I accept that they made changes, they were 3-0 up in the game initially. 

“So I don’t want to get too carried away with that part of it. But I felt there were a couple of good performances. 

“Elliott Bennett and Jack Price, it's amazing if you want the ball and you look after the football – a little bit of intelligence – what a difference it can make. 

“Those two can be very pleased with their performances.” 

On Chey Dunkley coming off injured on his 100th appearance for the club: 

“He defended extremely well for us. You know what you're getting with Chey – he wants to lead.  

“He said he didn’t want to come off – but it would have been silly keeping him on or asking him to risk further injury. 

“Because he’s such a strong boy, he might not be able to feel quite what has happened but hopefully – the hope at the minute – is it’s nothing too major.” 

On Elliott Bennett making his 600th career appearance: 

“I had a chat with him yesterday, he mentioned it would be his 600th appearance if he got onto the pitch. 

“He said it was in my hands but that was always going to happen – one way or another. 

“And while it’s not the result he wanted, he’s quite emotional in there. 

“He is a credit to himself, his family and his profession. 

“I think the way he’s conducted himself, he has really been the quiet leader of the group in terms of the respect he gets from people. When he speaks, people listen. 

“He doesn’t ram things down people’s throats. He doesn’t shout and bawl. But he gets his message across. 

“In fairness to him, the last couple of games he has been excellent for us in midfield. He has helped us get over the line. 

“Today he got an assist. I think he went to take a shot at one point which would have been the absolute dream ending. 

“He did extremely well. He started in midfield. We had to move him to right back with the injury. 

“But again, that typifies him. There is no moaning, he just wants to do the best he can for the team. 

“I’m not sure what his plans are – but ultimately he has had a fantastic career.” 

On the season being over: 

“The aim was to make sure we were still a League One club. 

“I think most people agree. If there is anyone out there looking at the table thinking we weren’t in that bad a position – then trust me if you speak to the dressing room they know where we were. 

“I’ve had some interesting conversations with players once we’ve been safe about what it was like previously, where we were at, where the group felt we were heading. 

“I think ultimately to have retained our status – I'm not going to over-celebrate that. 

“It’s a good achievement. I know where we rank in terms of the league since I’ve come in. 

“We have bettered that, that’s all I will say. 

“Ultimately there is something to celebrate. But it’s not time to start working as well because that first part of the job is done. 

“That is how I looked at it. That’s one part, now the job starts again with the aim of trying to get a different group of players together. 

“The first aim will be to do the same (stay in League One) but hopefully we can do something extra. 

“The league next season is absolutely stacked and it’s certainly a lot tougher league than it was this year.” 

On the imminent retained and released list: 

“Decisions have been made. The retained list will go out very soon. 

“Fortunately, I won’t be around to answer questions! You just have to trust me and then in time, I’ll be more than happy to answer those questions. 

“But for the time being, decisions have been made. 

“There will be some here but it will largely be a new squad for the fans to get to know and hopefully cheer on and connect with.” 

On the decision-making process: 

“It’s not a nice part of the job, it’s people’s careers and people’s livelihoods. 

“And the ones that you decide not to keep – there might be some uncertainty for them. 

“For all I know, deep down, some of them may be happy. 

“And then there are others that you ask to stay at the football club that perhaps don’t want to for whatever reason. 

“There are different parts to it. But the ones where you are putting people in uncertain situations – I don’t take any joy from that. 

“It’s one of if not the worst part of the job. 

“But the other side of me, if I take any emotion out of the situation, some of it has been relatively easy because I think of what we’ve done overall and the way that it’s looked. 

“I think the squad has been a mix and match because of players that were brought here under one manager and then a head coach. 

“I’ve never felt there was a really good fit there. 

“Not in terms of them at the training ground and the way they have got together – and the way they have got the job done. 

“But I feel there are too many discrepancies, gaps. I’m hoping we can get a squad together that is more aligned.”

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