'I am very, very comfortable that I will be part of Ipswich Town's future' - Every word from Paul Cook's pre-match press conference
- Credit: Steve Waller-www.stephenwaller.com
Ipswich Town sit 12th in the League One table with three games to play. Manager Paul Cook spoke to the media this morning about his job security, how he wanted to release players on the full-time whistle last weekend and his plans for a topless goal celebration.
To BBC Suffolk's Brenner Woolley...
Q: Season ticket prices were revealed yesterday. What do you say to any fans that are in two minds about getting one next season or considering walking away from following Ipswich Town?
A: The first thing I’d say is you never walk away from your football club, that’s for sure. A hundred per cent, you never, ever walk away from your football club.
You support football clubs because it’s ingrained in you from a young kid, through your mum, your dad, your grandparents.
The history of a football club will always shine through.
For us, success is too long ago and unfortunately we’ve missed out on generations of supporters.
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My job, and it doesn’t look like I'm doing it very well at the minute, is to bring good days back to his football club and make Portman Road a place where people want to come and watch an exciting brand of football.
Unfortunately, what we’re serving up at the minute is absolutely not good enough. Nowhere near.
So if I’m an Ipswich fan today, I’m sure my words won’t touch them where it should. Because if I was one of them fans I would be thinking what they’re thinking.
But I know by the time we sign a player or two, and the exits come in the summer, the new owners will come in like a breath of fresh air, and all of a sudden we might see people smiling a little bit again.
Q: How important is it to engage young fans?
A: Liverpool fans had a generation that didn’t see them win the league. Within that you can lose supporters.
We all know how strong Ipswich Town’s fanbase is. At the minute they are probably tired of listening to me. Somewhere along the line they just want to see action.
If we were playing a game at Portman Road tomorrow to get promoted, how many people would be in the stadium? It would be full.
The reality is they are bored with the lack of what they have seen. Totally bored.
My job and the staff’s job going forwards is to bring the supporters back into the stadium.
I’m sure when that when it starts happening they’ll come back in their drives.
Q: How excited are you about getting Portman Road rocking?
A: Today we are in a period of pain and you’ve got to go through that period.
It’s sport. I’m not going to criticise the group of players we have in the building, I won’t be drawn into that, but sport’s about winning and being competitive and giving everything you’ve got to be successful.
They’re traits that we lack dramatically in our club today. We won’t lack them tomorrow.
Q: Are you keen to do your business early?
A: I 100% get where our supporters are at. We don’t even score a goal at the minute. I've never been around a football team like this guys.
That’s not me going back and looking at everything Paul Cook’s done. Everything in the past is totally irrelevant.
This is about the future.
I’ve never seen a team not win second balls and show character to win a game, like we did at Portman Road last Saturday.
So while it’s great to speak about the future and what will happen tomorrow, I think we’ve got to stay in the painful today. And at the minute it is very painful.
Q: When are we going to hear about departures or any contract options being taken up on this group of players?
A: If I could have done it last Saturday at quarter to five I would have done it. And I’d have done it with no regrets.
There are processes that you have to go through now and those processes will be done with everything in mind; players' wellbeing, conducting ourselves properly as a club and not on an emotional level.
The emotional one is your pride is hurt and, as a manager, I want to show everyone how much I’m hurt.
But that’s gone now. We’re in the realms of 10 days left of the season. The released list will come out, the people who can leave the club will come out, we’ll start signing players and, as they say, it will a case of ‘out with the old and in with the new’. That’s 100% going to happen at this club.
Q: So as we’re sat here no-one's been spoken to about their futures yet?
A: You guys will always poke and prompt me in terms of what you’d like me to say. I’d like to think a lot of time I represent our supporters.
When I represent our supporters I can only tell them that I am up there with your unhappiness. I am totally with you.
Unfortunately, whatever I say or do at the minute will just fall on deaf ears.
Q: Can anyone change your opinion over these last three games?
A: No. 100%. All my decisions have been made. I’m tired of listening to feeble excuses about why we don't play well.
It’s always somebodies' fault. It’s like pass the parcel for blame. Eventually the parcel has to stop with someone and they have to stand up and be counted.
That first half performance last weekend was one that gets every manager in the country sacked.
I won’t be a part of that. There’s not a chance I’ll be part of that.
I’ve watched Plymouth, Bristol Rovers, Lincoln, for a period of the game, MK Dons and latterly Wimbledon all come to Portman Road and dominate the game.
Coming to Portman Road and dominating football games! Are you messing?! Come on! It’s not going to carry on.
Q: How confident are you that the club won’t be in this position where so many players are coming to the end of their contracts again?
A: With the new ownership and Mark Ashton, our new CEO, that time of change is coming. It really is coming.
We’ve got to let everyone get in place and settle into their jobs.
In my world, we can’t be in any worse place than we’re in today.
And I’m very much part of that guys. Make no mistake about it. I'm devastated with what I've seen over the last 13 games.
As a manager it falls at my door as well. Eventually, as a manager, the team replicates you. That team at the minute, our team, does not replicate me in any shape or form.
So going forward we’ve got to finish the season properly, conduct ourselves properly and do everything correct.
But as you can work out, it will not be allowed to carry on.
Q: Swindon this weekend, already relegated, what are you expecting from them?
A: I’ve got no interest in other clubs, I’ve got absolutely no interest in Swindon Town. My job is totally focussed on Ipswich Town, the future and changes going forwards.
I don’t want to be sitting here next season speaking about other teams, I want to be speaking about the changes we’ve made, the help that we’ve been given by the new ownership and how much more of a progressive club we look.
At the minute there is a lot of work ahead, so other clubs do not interest me in any shape or form.
Q: What do you want to see from these last three games?
A: We’ll see what we’ll see. This team, this group of lads cannot hurt me or our supporters any more. The pain is done. We are ingrained in that pain.
Imagine if we went away and won 3-0 on Saturday. Would that change everyone’s minds? Not a prayer, absolutely not a prayer. So what will be will be.
Q: Let’s end on a positive... A word on the Under-18s please Paul. It would be a tremendous achievement if they were to reach the semi-finals of the Youth Cup (host Sheffield United in the quarter-finals at 5pm tomorrow).
A: Can we please end of a negative? I’m trying to be as miserable as possible!
No, look, it’s an absolutely fantastic achievement by them. As I’ve said to the lads, I am so proud of them. I’m so proud of the Under-23s teams who are also winning football games.
The problem at Ipswich Town Football Club is the first team. The other teams represent us fantastically well.
We’ll wish them (the Under-18s) well tomorrow. What an achievement it could be for them. Let’s keep our fingers crossed. We have got so many good young players in the building, so let’s hope they can all have a really bright future.
To Stuart Watson, EADT and Ipswich Star
Q: I only ask you this question because you’ve kind of semi alluded to it yourself – and I don’t know how serious you are – but you said last weekend that you ‘hope and pray you’ll be the one to change things next year’ and that ‘the way my team is playing I’ll be out of work again pretty soon’. I don’t know if that’s just emotions talking, but is there any scenario where you might not be in charge next season?
A: If you go back, I said the way the team performed in the first half last Saturday would get any manager the sack.
Let’s get my words clearly.
That team does not reflect me, the staff, the supporters in any way shape or form.
I am going into the summer very, very comfortable in the fact that I will be part of Ipswich Town’s future.
Q: I just thought that was worth clearing up. We’ve spoken to a few of the new owners, who have all been refreshingly visible, and they’ve all said, to a man, that you were their number one choice and you need the backing to build your own team. How nice has that been for you to hear?
A: Listen, I’m a football manager guys. At the end of the day, I know the rules of football. I 100% know the rules of football.
One of the sad things today is that we now judge people and managers on a game to game basis. That’s the way the world’s gone. It’s football today.
Managers know that if you’re not successful the clamour for change comes very, very quickly.
If you look back historically at the three clubs I've been at – Chesterfield, Wigan and Portsmouth – I have managed to win three league titles at three league clubs.
So the reality is I’ve had three jobs and I’ve been successful. If I was to carry on with the group of people I have here, I have no doubt they would get me sacked quite quickly.
So the reality is I will not put up with that group of people. The changes will come very quickly. So we can just clear that up.
Q: What do you think the atmosphere inside Portman Road would be right now if fans were allowed in?
A: I can only say so many miserable things. At the minute, I don’t like us and we’re not very good.
I was at Crewe-Charlton the other night and Crewe were excellent. Crewe were better than Charlton on the night.
Sometimes big clubs carry the name. And I’m not being disrespectful to Charlton by the way. Please don’t take it like that.
But you carry the name. And within carrying the name you don’t have the personnel on the pitch that can do the name of the club justice. That’s a perfect example for Ipswich today.
I don’t know where we finished in the league last season. Was it 10th? Sorry, 11th. So we’ve been relegated, we’ve been 11th in League One and we’re probably now in and around 10th, 11th in League One.
My record as a manager here is not great. It’s nowhere near good enough.
But the hope that I carry is that I know what I want, I knew what I wanted in the past, I get people in that I want to get in and I get a calibre and character of player.
We lack character. A hundred per cent we lack it. But I can only speak so much about negative stuff.
Q: I’m sure when you came in you had opinions on many of these players from all the footage you’d watched. Have those opinions changed over time? Has it been a case of, week-by-week, the list of ‘keeps’ has dwindled?
A: That’s a very, very good question. One of the answers I would give you is that I’m actually trying to throw everybody under the bus at the minute in terms of how I feel.
Within that, I've managed long enough to know that we do have some good players in the building. Of course we do.
But at the minute, I think we’re all struggling to find them aren’t we? So let’s hope that the winds of change will blow through the building and next year we’ll have a team on the pitch that we can all be very, very proud of.
Q: Even if you released every single player out of contract, some players in this squad will still be here next season. Are you confident, with the way you’re talking at the minute, that those guys will feel refreshed when the reset button is hit and you’ll have their hearts and minds?
A: Watch this space... Watch this space.
At the end of the day I’ve never feared anything I’ve done as a football manager. I don’t fear getting beat. I fear not having a team on the pitch that reflects me. At all my previous clubs I’ve always had a team on the pitch that reflects me.
Going forward, hopefully as soon as I can, I’ll put a team on the pitch that reflects me and it’s one that our new owners, all our fans and everybody in Ipswich will be proud of.
Today, I’m an Ipswich Town manager that’s hurting. I’m not doing well enough in my own job. And I always look at myself first and what I could do better.
Then, when I look out at the training ground and when we travel on the team bus, it’s ‘how much do I trust the people behind me?’ At the minute I don’t trust many people behind me.
Q: It's been more than 10 hours since your team scored a goal. Swindon are down and conceded five last weekend. You’re going to score on Saturday aren’t you Paul?!
A: Listen, if we do score I’ll run around the pitch with my top off! So you can tell our fans watching on iFollow to keep their eyes on the dugout for the celebration!
It’s been too painful for too long now. We’ve got to make our supporters happy and proud again. That’s not something we’ll do overnight.