'I'm not happy' - Cook on 2-1 win against Shrewsbury
- Credit: Steve Waller - stephenwaller.com
Ipswich Town manager Paul Cook declared his new-look side are still 'a long way off where we want them to be' following this afternoon's 2-1 home win against Shrewsbury Town.
The Blues dominated from the off and duly broke the deadlock through Conor Chaplin's 23rd minute rebound finish. However, in what is becoming a recurring theme, they quickly conceded as Shaun Whalley fired into the top corner from outside the box.
Town limped into the break, having almost conceded again, before upping their game following the restart. Macauley Bonne's superb header at a corner restored the lead in the 54th minute and Cook's men went on to comfortably see out the win.
"I'm trying my best to not sound like an idiot, but I'm not happy," said the Blues boss afterwards, his side rising to 14th in the League One table and closing the gap on the play-off places to six points.
"You can't play as well as we did for 23 minutes, score, and then play the next 23 minutes like that.
"That's not football. That's a team that thinks it's done enough in the game and comes completely off the gas. That can't be tolerated.
"You can see at the end of the game what it means to our fans. You can see how hungry they are for this club to be successful.
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"We've put together a really talented group of players, without a doubt, but we've got a long, long way to go."
On his side quickly conceding an equaliser, Cook quipped: "Then all the fun starts! Let the fun begin! It's happened too many times this season. We're looking for the leaders to step up, we're looking for the character of the team. The hunger that drove us on for the first 23 minutes evaporated for the next 23 minutes.
"Games take phases and stages. You can't always have total control. But when the game goes against you, you need to have a go-to set that allows you to see out those periods. Our go-to set at the minute is we're too casual, we give the ball away cheaply, we make bad decisions and we give the opposition a leg up.
"That's not being disrespectful to Shrewsbury. Shrewsbury worked their socks off today, they were always in the game, but after 23 minutes that game should have gone away from Shrewsbury. And it never. That's the disappointing thing for me."
Asked if he spoke to his players at the break, Cook replied: "'Speaking' to them is a good word! I'm not being disrespectful to Shrewsbury, but we should be seeing these sort of games out in a lot better fashion than we are.
"We've left today feeling that it's a big win, but after 23 minutes it looked like it was going to be comfortable afternoon. Unfortunately we made it anything but comfortable. That's not good enough. That's a long way off where we want to be.
"It's about consistency. I just want to enjoy watching my team play. For five or 10 minutes after we scored I don't have a clue what we're doing. For 23 minutes our habits have been up here and then they go down there.
"We'll say some things in private and work with the players so that when we play we're all on the same page.
"At the minute we're reading different books at times."
In a later interview, Cook said: "I'll always come out and be as honest as I can. For 23 minutes that's probably as good as I've seen us play this year. Everything about us looked good, we score, and then I don't know what goes through their minds for the next 10 minutes.
"We spoke about the importance of scoring again, playing in their half, being aggressive, getting on second balls... but there's just a sloppiness that comes into the team. That was apparent at Accrington last weekend and that was apparent in the second half of the first half today.
"Yeah, great credit to the players, we've won and we've dug a result out. Our fans leave the stadium elated - and I can't thank them enough, the stadium was rocking - but as a manager I wat to enjoy watching our team play. Today I'm back to not enjoying them."
Asked if that was a mentality issue, Cook said: "A hundred per cent it's mentality! A hundred per cent! You can't be good and then decide to say 'okay, we're doing great, let's go and not be as good'. Football is about habits. The best teams have the best habits. It's about repetition and mentality.
"At the minute we've got a really nice group of lads. Trust me, they are really good lads in there, good players. But at the minute our mentality to be a good team is not quite there yet. That's something we'll work on."
With Bonne soring his ninth goal of the season, the Blues boss said: "I'm delighted for Macauley, but you win as a team.
"It's a long season. After every game I have to speak. There's always a debate. I just see us as a brand new set of players that is still learning. We show signs of being really good and stepping on, but then we show a couple of signs that I don't like. They are the signs we will concentrate on, a hundred per cent.
"I got brought in here to do a job. I don't get dead down when we get beat. My job is to make the team better with the coaches and the staff. That's what we do.
"We'll keep working hard to be more consistent."
He continued: "We got into great situations in the game. We worked hard on where we could hurt them; change in play, moving their midfield three about and then some of the decisions we make... We help the opposition.
"I'm not being disrespectful to Shrewsbury. Steve (Cotterill) has been a good manager, he is a good manager and these are good players we are playing against. But after 23 minutes you'd expect us to go on and win two or three-nil. Let's have it right. We looked comfortable.
"But we go in at half-time and the game looked in the balance. It shouldn't have been like that today."
Asked if that meant there was a lot more to come from his side, Cook added: "Let's see. I've just told the players in no uncertain terms that we have to work hard."
Was he pleased with the way his team managed the game after going 2-1 up?
"After what I said to them at half-time they had no choice!" he said. "I wouldn't have given a goal away if I was them! Football is about mentality.
"You guys probably turn up now and when we score you probably go 'oh, the next 10 minutes are going to be fun!' It's not the small error that counts, but it contributes to the bigger picture. Every single one of them has got to tighten up."
What was the mood like in the dressing room at half-time?
"Not very good," said Cook. "But it is what it is. As you say, it's back-to-back wins, which is great.The league is what it is. I respect every team we play, but it's very much about what Ipswich Town team is going to turn up at the minute. That concerns me because throughout my managerial career 've always known what my teams are going to produce.
"You don't always win, I get that, I've got no problem losing, but I didn't enjoy the way we lost at Accrington last weekend and I didn't enjoy the second half of the first half today."
With Matt Penney coming off in the second half, Cook explained: "His hamstring was tightening and we had an opportunity where if Toto (Nsiala) goes on at least we know if there are a few balls coming into the box late on we'd be able to defend them."