'It's a derby match... we want to make our fans proud' - Cook on Cambridge United
- Credit: Picture: Steve Waller - stephenw
Ipswich Town manager Paul Cook wants his players to make the club's travelling supporters proud at Cambridge United tomorrow afternoon.
Blues fans quickly snapped up their 2,500 allocation for this game, The Abbey Stadium set to be at 7,944 capacity as the two clubs meet in a competitive fixture for the first time since 1993.
“We want to go to Cambridge and give our fans something to be proud of," said Cook, whose side have won four of their last six games in all competitions to sit level on points with the U's in the bottom half of the League One table.
“He’s done a great job Mark (Bonner). I’m sure they will have learnt a lot from their short time in the league so far. They’ve had some outstanding results.
“It’s a game that this whole area of the country will be looking forward to. The game’s sold out. We take great travelling support.
“Even for managers like myself and our players, it’s a fixture that excites us. It very much does. It’s one that we look forward to it and think ‘come on!’ The hairs on your body stand up because it’s a derby match, as such.
“It’s a big game, there are big bragging rights that go with it and it’s a game we desperately want to do well in."
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Town have attracted crowds of between 18,000 and 21,000 to Portman Road so far this season, with 1,800 going to Lincoln, 1,400 at Burton, almost 1,000 at Cheltenham and 846 at Accrington.
Asked if the strength of Ipswich Town's support had surprised him at all since he took over as manager, Cook replied: “Yeah, possibly a little bit.
"Gary Roberts was telling me that Ipswich was like Portsmouth, with the fans desperately loving their club. He said ‘the Ipswich fans will really shock you gaff, they really travel, they’re great supporters’.
“I feel our supporters have been amazing this year, I really do. People have said to me about a couple of boos at the end of games, but I think the support has been about 90% brilliant.
“There will be 2,500 of our fans there tomorrow and our players are fully aware of that, don’t you worry about that. Our supporters know what it means to me, the players and the staff. We need to make sure they feel that tomorrow in the game."
Cook, a passionate Liverpool fan himself, has always spoken about seeing the game through the eyes of supporters.
“I see so many managers apologising for performances, but I don’t believe in that," he said. "I believe it’s our job to correct the performances.
“I believe when you travel away from home to follow your team you’re going to get disappointments. That’s part of being a fan, that’s part of your journey as a fan.
“But the reality is if you have too many of those disappointing days the manager won’t keep apologising for those performances – because he won’t have a job.
“So sort your job out and make the supporters proud.
“My thing is wanting the fans to clap you off at the end of the game. You don’t have to win football games to be clapped off. You have to show desire and show those supporters ‘I really care and I’m going to cover every blade of grass today for you’. That’s something that we didn’t do at Accrington. Forget the quality, forget the talent. That’s something we’re going to be looking to do in away games, and home games, going forwards."
He continued: “There’s not an away ground I haven’t been to to watch Liverpool. So when people talking about supporting a team, I know exactly what all those journeys are like. I know what it’s like when it feels like every player is useless and the manager has got to go. Two weeks later we’re singing at the top of our voices!
“Life as a supporter is tough, isn’t it? If you look at supporting teams who have, shall we say, been in regression, the reality is it’s going to be tough. But you support your club for longevity. Our challenge is to bring those days back to Portman Road and away grounds so our supporters can be proud of our club.
“You can see by our numbers home and away, our support hasn’t diminished has it? Come on. If we can get them going our support will only grow and grow and grow."
Cook added: “The Accrington result (2-1 away defeat) brought us all down to earth with a bump, because we travelled to Accrington probably with an aura about us that we were getting better.
“We travel across to Cambridge tomorrow with a similar aura, but we need to produce more. We’ll know tomorrow at five o’clock if the messages following Accrington have been good."