'We've got to be better - myself included' - Cook on 3-0 loss at Northampton Town

Paul Cook watching the warm up before the match against Northampton Town

Paul Cook watching the warm up before the match against Northampton Town - Credit: Pagepix

Ipswich Town manager Paul Cook conceded that the club's slim play-off hopes were finally extinguished by tonight's 3-0 loss at relegation-fighting Northampton Town, adding that he is 'shouldering the blame'.

Peter Kioso twice netted at corners in the first half, with Ryan Watson putting the nail in the coffin late on.

The Blues have now gone almost nine hours without scoring a goal, have claimed just 11 points from Cook's first 12 games in charge (W2 D5 L5) and are now five points adrift of the play-off places with only four games left to play.

"There will be no criticism of the players from me now," said Cook. "We're past all that aren't we? Our supporters don't need to listen to me, an experienced manager, saying that. 

Mark McGuinness is very disappointed at full-time at Northampton Town

Mark McGuinness is very disappointed at full-time at Northampton Town - Credit: Pagepix

"That's 12 games for me now and I'd have expected myself to do a lot better, irrespective of any player who is going on the pitch. So the first level of criticism comes to me and to my staff.

"I don't want the players getting any criticism. The fans have watched us long enough now. The pain and frustration has been there for a period of time. Eventually, after this season ends, hopefully they'll see some signs in the club - whatever that looks like - of a positive future."

He continued: "I just told the lads that you get one football career. And sometimes when you play for the bigger clubs in a league then everyone raises their game to play you. That's part of the goodness of playing for Ipswich, Portsmouth, Sunderland in these divisions. But it's also a challenge, because you become a big scalp.

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"Unfortunately - and I'm talking about myself now, I'm not talking about anyone else - it hasn't been good enough.

Reaction from the players to going two behind against Northampton Town

Reaction from the players to going two behind against Northampton Town - Credit: Pagepix

"I won't be criticising the players tonight. I will be shouldering that blame for them."

When it was put to Cook that the play-offs weren't going to happen, he replied: "No, it's not.

"We came away from home tonight and we started the game so, so well. We were bright, we looked effective. 

"Like I say to them, we always get the first disappointment in games. And as a young group of men, disappointment on the pitch is hard.

Flynn Downes is disappointed at Northampton Town

Flynn Downes is disappointed at Northampton Town - Credit: Pagepix

"Again, I'm talking about my time at the club here, they haven't got many go to moments where they've been in trouble and got out of it.

"We got in great areas tonight and our quality... I'm not going to get drawn into the aspects of the game.

"The plan going forwards is to be a lot better than we were today. And I'm talking about myself and the staff. I'm not talking about the players."

Asked what he wanted to see from his players over the last four games - against AFC Wimbledon (h), Swindon (a), Shrewsbury (a) and Fleetwood (h) - Cook said: "Just play. I thought we had a couple of great performances tonight. I thought Andre Dozzell was excellent, Gwion Edwards too. That's what we want to see now. 

"I don't want to tell you what's going on in the dressing room. It's not fair on the players. But to manage clubs like ours it's a privilege. To play for the clubs it's the same.

"The supporters only want to listen to that for so long. Unfortunately, in transfer windows, and with what's gone on over the last few weeks, it's been a difficult time at the club.

"So let's all, starting with myself, have a little bit of manners and little bit of respect. Let's not make stupid rash statements that people want to hear in football.

"Because I think as a sports person it's got to hurt. What you do is go away and let the hurt go to the bottom of your shoes and you do something about it."

Will he start to have a look at players for the future now?

"I'm not going to speak like that guys," said the Blues boss. "They're painful these nights now. They are. They hurt me deeply. I'm sure they hurt a lot of our supporters watching on iFollow who are passionately wanting us to make the play-offs. We're not ready for the play-offs are we? Come on. Let's have the truth sometimes. The truth hurts a little bit. 

"We're going to be a club in massive transition now and the quicker that transition starts the better.

"There's not much to add. If you watch us, generally you'd say we're soft. Unfortunately that's something that I have to shoulder. The players represent us all. I represent the town. The fans know I'm hurting. People who know me know I won't be throwing players under the bus. It's not my style.

"What we've offered under me - I'm not talking about anyone else - hasn't been good enough.

"I think I've said enough. I thank everyone for the support. We've got to be better - myself included."

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