'We're like an engine which has gone a bit wrong' - Cook on goalless draw at Wigan and Vincent-Young injury
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Ipswich Town manager Paul Cook said his team are 'like a stuttering engine which has gone a bit wrong' following this afternoon's toothless display in a 0-0 draw at relegation-battling Wigan Athletic.
The Blues, who are one of the lowest scoring sides in League One, barely created a chance of note in an instantly forgettable game that lacked quality from start to finish.
To make matters worse, Kane Vincent-Young's first competitive start in 17 months ended with him going off with a hamstring injury at half-time.
Cook, who has overseen one win, two draws and three defeats since taking charge earlier this month, puffed his cheeks out when asked for an assessment.
“What did I make of that?" he said, with a sigh.
“It was an okay point in the end, if we be truthful. The game lacked quality from both teams. The pitch was difficult, I suppose, but I’m not looking for excuses.
“We need to be so much better than that as a team. But we take a point and move on to the next one.
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“We’ve got 10 left now. There’s been an imbalance of home and away games. We drew with Lincoln and beat Plymouth at home. Now we’ve got Bristol Rovers at home.
“We’ve got to get a win on the board quickly just to give ourselves the belief that we can make the play-offs."
Asked if he was disappointed that his side didn't take the game by the scruff of the neck, Cook said: “I’m not sure we have got that in us at the minute have we? You guys have watched us a lot longer than me.
“We huff and puff. We do what we do. Defensively we look okay, but we still finished a bit nervy and I don’t understand that.
“We should be controlling games and opening teams up and putting quality balls in the box, but that’s something we’re just not doing that at the minute.
“We’ll keep going. We get on the training ground and work harder and harder. You remind the players, and myself, that when you play for a big club there is expectancy. That’s something we have got to step up to.
“Myself included, we’ve got a little bit of a way to go to get to that mark.
“Everyone looks like they are waiting for someone ese to do something. I’ve never seen a team like that. That’s not how my teams play. I want to see players step up to the plate, get a quality cross in the box and say ‘go have that'.
“The brutal reality is that we didn’t have the quality to open them up and score a goal. That’s heart breaking, but there you go.
“My biggest concern when I came in the building was the lack of goals and I haven’t solved that problem yet. I love teams that put in loads of crosses and get in good areas of the pitch. At the minute we’re stuttering away. We’re like an engine which has gone a bit wrong. We’re just trying to find the right gear to take us forward.
“But I tell you what we’ll keep working at it that’s for sure."
Asked if his players believed in themselves, Cook said: “I’d suggest no, if I’m brutally honest with you. I’d suggest that they just look at each other and hope somebody steps up.
“That’s not how my teams play. Home and away we take the team to people home and away. We’re off the front foot and are aggressive.
“The Kane Vincent-Young substitution at half-time was really disappointing.
“He’d just got forward on the overlap and we’d had a bit of penetration through him. That’s a glimpse of what I want us to be.
“But he’s suffered a hamstring injury and we had to take him off.
“It’s so disappointing for the lad because he’s worked so hard to get back. It is what it is."
On substitute Armando Dobra's positive impact, he said: “He showed a good couple of passages of play by controlling the ball and retaining possession. That's something that everyone should be doing a hell of a lot better.
“I’ll always show a united front to you guys. That’s my job. It really is.
“There are 10 games now. We all know the contract situation. My message to the players is ‘let’s see what we’re really about’.
“Promotions are the best days of your life. They’ve got to feel and taste that we are so close. If we beat Bristol Rovers and Rochdale (over the Easter weekend) then we are back in the play-off places. Am I asking too much? I don’t think I am. In fact, I’m demanding it now."
Cook added: “I’m desperate to give Kayden Jackson a run down the middle of the pitch with James Norwood, I’ve got to tell you that, but that;s something I've never played lads.
“You’ve got to be very direct team to do it. You’ve got to have wingers putting balls in the box and hitting second strikers. It’s something I just don’t see us being really good at.
“But I can guarantee our supporters that I won’t be rigid over the last 10 games if there’s something else that I think could make us successful.
“Our supporters watching on at home on iFollow in their thousands will be as disappointed as anyone. All I can say to them is that no stone will be left unturned. We want to go up this year. We are desperate to get in them play-offs. Tonight it doesn’t look good, but tomorrow is another day."
Asked if he was looking for more character and personality from his players, Cook said: “I’m a very open manager who tries to answer the questions. At the minute, if you ask me too much you’ll lead me to say one or two things about the team that is lacking.
“Supporters know what’s lacking, you know what’s lacking. We don’t need to keep telling each other. We’ve got to go away and find it. Find those ingredients to make a nice meal. That’s what I'm paid very well to do."
He added: “I’ll shoulder all that pressure for the players. That’s my job.
“In this league if you win two or three games then things can change quickly.
“It’s like starting a marathon. You’ve got to do the first mile. We’re at the starting blocks and we know it’s going to be tough, but we can do it."