'My plan was very rigid... but I've learnt a lot' - Cook on formations and training methods
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Ipswich Town manager Paul Cook admits he arrived at the club with very 'rigid' ideas about playing style and training methods, but says he is ready to adapt in order to give the team the best possible shot at finishing in the League One play-off places.
Cook has always deployed a 4-2-3-1 system at his previous clubs but that set-up has brought little joy in his short time with the Blues so far, the team lacking goal threat and claiming just one win from the six matches.
Twice the Blues boss had said in post-match interviews that he is very tempted to go with a front of James Norwood and Kayden Jackson. Is he still tempted by that heading into crunch Easter weekend games against relegation-battling duo Bristol Rovers (home, tomorrow) and Rochdale (away, Monday)?
“Yeah, why not?! Why not?!" replied the Liverpudlian, in his usual upbeat manner.
"One thing’s for sure, I won’t get to the end of the season playing 4-2-3-1 with a team that doesn’t function playing that way. That’s not going to happen.
“I think our supporters would be grossly disappointed with me if they felt I was going to continue doing that.
“First and foremost, when I watch any of my teams play, I always put myself in the position of a fan travelling to the game. The first thing you think when you’re travelling home is ‘did I enjoy the game?’ Well I haven’t enjoyed many games watching Ipswich, so I know exactly what our fans are going through.
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“I’m privileged that I have a chance to do something about it.
“The brutal reality is ‘watch this space’."
He continued: “I want continuity, I want to pick the same team, I want partnerships to develop, I want consistency in formations... I just can't get it.
“And I’m not fighting it no more. I’m not fighting it. I’ve let that fight be won by what I can’t win.
“My new fight now is to get results and win games in a short-term basis. That’s my new fight. That’s my clear agenda for Bristol Rovers tomorrow, then we’ll look at Rochdale the next one.
“But we’ve got to win some games to get this club into the play-offs. We have to."
Having tried various combinations of attacking players over his first six games in charge, Cook was asked if he was waiting for something to click.
“No, my job is to find a way," he said. "My job is not to sit and wait and watch and hope. My job is to find a way.
“I’ve been working with these lads for a month now. In four weeks I’ve learned a lot about them and they’ve probably learned a lot about me and what I demand.
“One thing that all Ipswich Town fans demand is that we turn up and we try our best to win a game of football.
“Whatever those formations look like remains to be seen, but I’m not going to sit in front of everyone and say ‘this is my philosophy’ and ‘this is my identity’.
“My identity is winning. That’s the biggest identity any manager or coach can have."
Last week was the first time Cook could really work with his players on the training pitch without the disruption of a midweek fixture.
He scheduled double training sessions for Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, but had to abandon those plans by Tuesday lunchtime, admitting that it was 'really, really disappointing' that the players 'probably weren’t strong enough to train again the second day like they did the first day'.
Asked if those double sessions had returned this week, Cook said: “You’re just on a learning curve. The reality is our supporters want to know so much. I get it.
“As you learn it can change your own plan as you go along. My plan was a very set, rigid one.
“Last week informed me a lot about the club and what goes on in the club. The plan this week has been different.
“But the outcome of the plan is winning on Friday. We’re just going about it, possibly, in a different manner."