There are no prizes for guessing the surprise packages of the entire Football League so far in 2017/18. Paul Hurst has worked wonders at Shrewsbury Town, guiding the perennial strugglers from the depths of League One to the top of the table in a remarkable start to the season.
As it stands, The Shrews are a point clear of pre-season promotions favourites Wigan Athletic at the top of the third tier. They have won 11 of their 16 league games and conceded just ten goals in that time.
It’s a staggering transformation for a club that finished 18th and 20th in the last two seasons. And Hurst’s achievement is made all the more impressive when you consider that, according to Transfermarkt, Shrewsbury have the lowest market value in the entire division and were forced to rely largely on free transfers and loans in the summer.
It’s clear, then, why one of the most highly-rated young British coaches around should be in contention for the vacant managerial position at Sunderland. Sky Sports report that Hurst is interested in taking over at Wearside and the feeling should be mutual.
And with just one win form 15 league games, Simon Grayson was given the axe on Tuesday night. Hurst, however, has proven at Shrewsbury that he can turn around a club irrespective of the funds at his disposal.
In fact, Sunderland are in a very similar position to the Shrewsbury side Hurst inherited just over a year ago. Expectations would be higher and the risks larger – but Hurst’s track record over the last 12 months should make him a standout candidate.