Big interview: Cole Skuse on ‘surreal’ relegation fight, why pay cuts would be fair and the future for him and Chambers
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Ipswich Town midfielder Cole Skuse has been speaking to the press today ahead of Saturday’s visit of Nottingham Forest. Here’s what he had to say about being benched, a ‘surreal’ mood surrounding the rock-bottom club, pay cuts and the future for both him and best mate Luke Chambers.
Q: It’s been strange seeing you on the bench the last few games, has it been strange being there?
A: Very strange. It’s not something I’ve had throughout my career and it’s not something I want to get used to. It’s been different.
I missed a game through illness, the gaffer pulled me in and said ‘look, the lads did well’ and I can’t argue that they deserve to keep their place.
Q: Do you still feel like you’ve got a lot of football in you at 32 years of age?
A: Very much so. When I wake up and feel ‘I can’t do this anymore’ that’s when I know I’m coming to the end. But I’m not at that stage yet.
I’m 32, nearly 33, but I’ve had minimal injuries and I look after myself very well off the field. I feel as good as when I was 27/28.
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You get far more help now. When I first started the recovery day on a Sunday was sitting in the Dog and Duck with four or five scoops! Now it’s ice bath and compression leggings. The game has changed a fair amount.
Q: Your heart must have sank when you saw both Rotherham and Millwall had won last night...
A: People who say they don’t look at other things… of course you do. You’re trying to watch the Liverpool-Barcelona game, but you’re staring at your phone seeing the other results come in.
You’re absolutely wounded, absolutely gutted. It’s been spoken about this morning.
All we can do is try and take care of ourselves, try and get as many points as we can and what will be will be.
Q: Is that it now? Realistically, are you down?
A: Not mathematically, but it’s going to be very, very tough. The gap has stretched and the games are running out.
It’s a tough ask for us. We can only try our hardest.
It’s so, so surreal in terms of the atmosphere and the morale, not just around the training ground but around the town itself.
You’re bumping into people and getting texts. There is such a positive vibe around the place.
We know it’s been a dreadful season for the club, we know we are sat bottom of the league, but you can often lose track of that when everyone is so positive.
You’re getting 20-odd thousand fans for a home game, a thousand plus travelling to The Hawthorns. It’s really, really surreal.
It’s going to be like that for the rest of the season I’m sure.
The fans deserve a huge amount of credit.
Q: It’s not a case of people sticking their heads in the sand is it? People do understand what relegation will mean to people?
A: No-one’s sticking their heads in the sand. I know Chambo (Luke Chambers) has said this, and I’ll say the same – you don’t get away from it. It affects your every day life. It’s really, really tough to take.
Q: Do you take a pay cut if the club does go down? Is that part of your contract?
Q: When you signed that contract you must never have imagined it coming to this?
A: It’s not something you want to touch on when you are negotiating a contract. It’s not great when you go to the owner and say ‘I want X’, but if we go to League One I still want ‘X’.
I wasn’t negotiating my contract thinking the club was going to League One. That wasn’t my mind set at all.
If it happens it happens.
Q: And is that fair enough for players to take wage cuts?
A: Of course it is. You get paid a certain amount to play in the Championship. If you fail in the Championship you shouldn’t be earning a certain amount of money in League One.
If the owner thinks he should be paying you ‘Y’ then he pays you ‘Y’.
Q: How nice was it to hear Paul Lambert talking about the importance of yourself and Luke Chambers as experienced players going forwards the other week?
A: It was flattering the way he spoke in such high regard about myself and Chambo. That’s obviously very nice.
I don’t think Chambo has made a secret of the fact he would love to stay around the club in some degree. It’s something I’ve thought about myself as well.
It’s a fantastic club, the infrastructure is brilliant.
Q: And you want to be part of things next season?
A: I’ve got a contract. If I’m wanted around the place I’m here. If the club want to pursue something new that’s not my decision.
I want to be around the place. This is my sixth season. I’ve loved every minute of it. My family are settled here. I’m contracted and I want to be part of things.
Q: You wouldn’t actively look to move on in order to stay in the Championship?
A: I’m not actively looking. If someone comes to the club and offers some money for myself to go elsewhere and the club accept it then that’s out of my hands.
But I’m not actively looking to leave Ipswich Town. I feel as if I’ve got loads of football left in me.
What will be will be. It’s not something I’ve thought about.
Q: You must wonder where the club would be if the club appointed Paul Lambert last summer, that’s only natural surely?
Q: It would have been different?
A: It would have been different. The club went down the route they went down. The club wanted to go down that route. That was their decision.
That’s not something the players get overly involved in. We were as much in the loop as you guys were.
It didn’t work. Paul Lambert has come in and put his own spin on things. The vibe is positive.
If he had been appointed earlier things might have been different.
Q: How exciting is this next generation of players? We saw Idris (El Mizouni) for the first time on Tuesday night.
A: Idris deserves every bit of credit he gets. He’s a great kid and you want to see kids like him succeed.
He’s come over from France, he’s learnt the language off his own back, he integrates with everyone and he’s a very talented boy.
It’s not as if we’re mid-table, 3-0 up at half-time and the manager has chucked him on. We need a result, we’re away from home, it’s 1-1 and he’s chucked him on.
That’s credit to Idris I think. He deserves to be on the pitch at that stage in the game.
In terms of the other lads they proved again the other night their talent.
Andre (Dozzell) came in for the first time in a while and was different class.
You forget Josh (Emmanuel) is still a young lad – fantastic.
There’s an abundance of them. They are international players for a reason.
Q: You must be chuffed for Teddy Bishop as well? I know you’ve been a fan of is from day one.
A: It almost got to stage with Bish – and I know he’s said this in an interview – that it was close to whether he was staying or going.
I’m glad he’s ironed out a deal to stay because he’s got certain attributes that not many people have got.
He can jink and glide and create and make things happen. It’s great to see him back fit and playing frequently.
He’s one that could play at the very top.
Q: Is the captain going to be here next season? You’re very close to him...
A: I have offered my services as an agent to him!
He’s in conversation with the club. I don’t think a decision is too far away. That’s a question for him to answer really, as much as I am very, very close to him.
We spent a lot of time at each others’ houses, but when the door closes at night and he sits with his wife and family I am sure they have discussion they don’t have with me and my wife.
He knows his final decision and has that in his head. I hope, for the town’s sake and the club’s sake, that he gets things ironed out and he stays because he is an unbelievable leader and organiser.
He might be 33 years of age, but he looks after himself very well and has plenty of football left in him too.
Q: It looks like an easy deal to do – the manager wants him here, the player wants to stay... It’s strange it hasn’t happened.
A: It’s been ongoing for a little while. I don’t know the real nooks and crannies of why it hasn’t been done. Let’s just hope it does get down.
Q: Nottingham Forest on Saturday. It would be nice to get that fourth win of the season because the football has deserved it.
A: It’s a results business and you need to win games, which we haven’t done enough of this year.
But the results haven’t done the performances justice. We’ve played real good stuff. Ultimately you want the win though.
It would be nice to get a win at the weekend because we’ve been playing some good stuff against teams chasing promotion.
We want a result.
Q: You were relegated with Bristol City. How does the feeling here compare to back then?
A: The year we got relegated with Bristol City we knew we were getting relegated from a long way back. The fans weren’t onside like they are here. It turned the opposite way.
That’s why I keep saying it’s such a surreal experience here and why you can lose sight of the fact you are bottom of the league.
You feel like you are playing front of an audience where you are chasing the other end.