'Coleman should have managed bigger clubs' - Cook on Accrington boss

Accrington Stanley manager John Coleman, a big hit at the Crown Ground

Accrington Stanley manager John Coleman. - Credit: PA Archive/PA Images

Ipswich Town manager Paul Cook believes his Accrington Stanley counterpart and good friend, John Coleman, should have been given opportunities to manage higher up the pyramid.

Cook and Coleman both grew up in the Merseyside borough of Kirkby.

Cook went on to play in the Premier League, for Coventry, and has managed the likes of Portsmouth and Wigan in recent years, the latter in the Championship.

Coleman was a prolific goalscorer in non-league and has now spent nearly 20 years in charge of Accrington, over two spells, transforming them from a Northern Premier League First Division side into a stable League One outfit.  

Ahead of their head-to-head at the Wham Stadium tomorrow, Cook - who was briefly Accrington boss during the two-year period Coleman was away - said: “I played football with John at seven years of age and we’ve been friends ever since.  

“I’ve got to be careful what I say, because I don’t want to be disrespectful, but I feel John should have been given opportunities to manage bigger clubs at higher levels. 

“I think he’s done an amazing job at Accrington, I really do. I think that job he does is now taken as a given because he’s done it that well for so long. He continually finds good players – Colby Bishop being one we’ll walk into tomorrow. 

Ipswich Manager Paul Cook at Portman Road

Ipswich Town boss Paul Cook played for and managed Accrington Stanley. - Credit: Pagepix Ltd

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“I went there with Chesterfield and Portsmouth and lost both times. Accrington is a really solid football club, run by a really good chairman in Andy Holt and they have probably shook off that ‘little club’ title now. I think they are now seen as a solid League One club. That’s great credit to John and everyone at the club."

Coleman has said in the build-up to this game that; 'I told Cooky six weeks ago he will get it right for when they play us'.

When told that, Cook laughed: “There’s a debate around that conversation! I told John I’d get it right actually, not John telling me! 

“John is someone I speak to three or four times a week. It's most days before training, at half six, seven o’clock in the morning. 

“We are both there for each other."

Following an eight-game winless start to the season across all competitions, Ipswich have claimed seven points from their last three games - the last of which was a 6-0 thrashing of Doncaster at Portman Road on Tuesday night.

Accrington, having won three successive matches in August, come into this match having leaked 12 goals in their last three games - the last of which was a 5-1 thrashing at the hands of Oxford United in midweek.

With Coleman having insisted he will not 'park the bus' against the Blues tomorrow, Cook said: “Listen, John’s fiercely competitive at everything he does. If you ever want to have a round of golf with John you won’t speak for four hours! John doesn’t like losing.  

“He prides himself on getting after teams, making things uncomfortable and their lads giving everything they’ve got. I don’t see that changing tomorrow. 

“I think Accrington will walk on to us. I think they’ll genuinely want to beat us. I think it will be a really good game."

Cook did predict, several weeks ago, that this trip to Accrington Stanley would be when his new-look squad would be fully up to speed. 


“I did say that," said Cook, who finished his playing career at Accrington before before managing them for 33 games in 2012.

"Because it was about the players having had time to integrate into the club, having some strong training weeks, the fitness levels naturally growing with games and the harmony of the squad growing.

"All that has coincided with the results changing for the better."

Cameron Burgess applauds fans after the final whistle.

Cameron Burgess applauds fans after the final whistle. - Credit: Steve Waller - www.stephenwaller

Cook isn't the only man in the Town camp with Accrington links. First-team coaches Francis Jeffers, Ian Craney and Gary Roberts all played for Stanley, Roberts as recently as last season, while Town defenders Cameron Burgess and Janoi Donacien both played for the Lancashire club too.

On signing Burgess this summer, Cook said: "It was quite a simple phone call really. It was a case of ‘if a deal can be done, let’s do it’, but a if a deal wasn’t going to be achievable then let’s not bother each other. I’ve got too much respect for John and Andy Holt. 

“The deal was done very, very quickly. That’s credit to Mark Ashton and our club, and also the powers that be at Accrington. It was a move that everyone was happy with. Transfers like that are quite simple."

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