'They don't trust me and I don't trust them' - Cook on 'jittery' atmosphere
- Credit: Steve Waller-www.stephenwaller.c
Ipswich Town manager Paul Cook spoke to the media this morning ahead of tomorrow's home clash with AFC Wimbledon. Here's what he had to say.
Q: Have you got a decision to make over which goalkeeper to start tomorrow?
A: Unfortunately for you I have to abstain from talking about personnel all the time.
Behind the scenes, as you can imagine, it’s tough at the minute. It’s tough.
As you can imagine, everyone is jittery.
If you guys were in your work place and you didn’t know your future, and you had your bosses on Zoom calls telling everyone about change every day, would you be dead happy and work at 100%?
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At the minute we focus on the present and that is on getting immediate results for the football club.
We’re a very proud club. I've only been here six weeks. I’m a proud manager. I take great pride in what I do, I take great pride in trying to make people happy. At the minute we’re making people miserable, including myself.
Q: Is that uncertainty about the future affecting the players?
A: Of course it is. You’re not going to go 100% for a manager who is not committing to you. Come on! These are young men with families, they have agents, they have all the speculation.
They might have wives at home saying ‘will we have to move and change the kids’ school’?
Then all of a sudden we’re asking them to concentrate on us and give us everything we’ve got.
That’s my job to manage these players. That’s what I’ve got to do.
For you guys, I get the speculation, I do. I get the two or three years we’ve had, since the relegation, where the sun hasn’t shone a lot on Ipswich, on Portman Road or the training ground.
These continuous, speculative Zoom calls will not do anyone any good no more. So with great respect, whatever questions we can move on to that I can answer – and I don’t think you’ve got many lads by the way! - let’s do that.
We’re a going forwards club now. You take small steps to take big ones. It’s up to us to change the landscape of what we’re doing.
At the minute I’m having to hold the fort and hold my lip a little bit as to what I’m really feeling and what I want to say.
That’s just purely out of respect for people. People have all got families and they’ve all got feelings themselves.
Q: Has this been a bigger challenge than you expected?
A: We’ve drawn five, lost five and won two. If you’ve watched the 12 games, including the one the other night, where we’ve probably had the best phases of play in the game since my time here but still lost 3-0, I’d suggest nearly every single game could have gone either way on a 1-0. That’s the brutal reality of it.
Yeah, it’s going to be a tough job because of the changes that will come.
Everyone knows how much I love football. I love going to watch my team knowing that we’ve got footballers who win us games and footballers who get it back. Unfortunately for Ipswich now, for a period, we haven’t had any go-to players – and that’s sad for us as a football club.
Q: Ideally, what sort of squad size would you like to work with next season?
A: Forty-five! I want my new owners to think I've got to bring 45 in! No, guys, if you look historically back at my teams I’ve only ever worked with small squads. And the reason I work with small squads is because trust the players.
At the minute, at our football club, including Ipswich Town fans, they don’t trust me. They’ve seen me speak a lot, but they haven’t seen me win a lot. It’s a knock-on effect.
Our players don’t trust me. I haven’t given them new contracts. I haven’t looked after anyone in the dressing room. Why would they trust Paul Cook?
I look at our results and I don’t particularly trust them. That’s where we’ve all got to be a little bit clever, cute and respectful of each other.
Over a period of time this club will be successful. Without a shadow of a doubt.
Q: What do you make of AFC Wimbledon? They beat you 3-0 recently and have won four on the spin now.
A: I don’t have no concerns with AFC Wimbledon, I don't have no concerns with any other clubs. Good luck to them, they’re doing well, they’re on a great run, I just have no interest in them.
We’ve trained hard this week. We’ve got on the grass.
As a staff, if you take pain or disappointment well or don’t do something about it then the reality is you’ll keep getting pain and disappointment.
I don’t like getting beat. I don’t like getting beat 3-0.
We came away from Charlton with a mild aspect of ‘okay, it’s a fair result, we’re getting better’ and then we get flattened again.
We can’t keep getting flattened. It’s not correct.
Q: Is it now just a case of pride to play for?
A: I tend to disagree with you a little bit.
I think the pain has now set in. Are you with me?
As an Ipswich supporter and an Ipswich manager, playing for pride is not something we should even be speaking about, is it?
Therein lies a problem that I am part of at the minute.
If you are being told that you have to play with pride then you shouldn’t be in a football club.
Q: You've said you won't learn anything new about these players now, it's a jittery atmosphere with so many uncertain futures and the play-offs have gone. Would you just end the season now if given the chance?
A: Yeah, it’s a good question that because even in my own mind I’ve just changed the answer three times already.
If you’re a player, if you’ve got any type of substance in you, your makeup, losing football clubs should be tough.
Even last week at Charlton, the last 10 minutes we were crying out to lose the game. I struggle with it.
We’re playing away at Charlton, have done smashing in the game, and we’re waiting to be beat at the end. You sense that in the squad, you sense that even in the staff a little bit.
But I think Andre Dozzell, for example, has been top class in the last two games. He’s played really, really well.
So I think these last four games give people a chance to say something.
I’ve said to the lads that they’ve got to be selfish now. As a club and a team our race is probably run. As an individual you can still have a chance to show you are a little bit different.
So, stand up and be counted.
Losing games of football, for any manager, is tough. We all know the perils of football today. That’s the job we’re in.
I was bottom of the league at Christmas with Wigan and you know the perils of what’s coming. I've never shied away from that.
Coming in here now, it’s been a challenge, it’s been difficult, but it will not change me as a person or a manager. Never.
I want to watch my team with pride. I love being a manager on the side of the pitch when you know what you’re getting out your team.
All you ask for is that at the end of a football match your supporters clap you off the pitch. When supporters clap you off the pitch it means what they’ve watched they’ll accept.
You have to run and work and show them how much you care. At the minute I’m probably glad Ipswich fans aren’t at stadiums because we want them to be proud of us.
I don’t do social media and I’m glad because I know our fans aren’t proud of us. And I include myself right at the height of that. That’s something that doesn't sit right with me, that’s for sure.
Q: Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but is there anything you would have done differently?
A: Not particularly. If you look at the starting elevens we’ve tried, the strikers we’ve put in, the combinations...
One of the reasons you are chopping and changing is that you are searching for a solution. I've never managed like that.
Gary Roberts has played for me at my last three clubs. The reason Gary played for me was because I knew exactly what I’d get out of him week-in, week-out.
I’ve had Sammy Morsy as my captain at two clubs. And that list goes on.
Here I’ve come into a different environment, a difficult environment for a lot of reasons. It’s an environment, probably, where certain people have carried the blame for whatever reason, whether that be the players, whether that’s been Paul Lambert, whether that’s been Marcus Evans.
The brutal reality is we were all part of the problem. And we have to find a solution.
In football today there is such a blame culture. Everyone blames everyone else.
You have been around me six weeks. The blame onto these players stopped at the end of the Northampton game. There’s no more blame on the players. It’s on the manager. It’s all on me now.
As I said to you before, we’re in pain at the minute. Enjoy the pain. I have enjoy it. That pain is what drives me on.
My sole focus is on winning tomorrow. A winning feeling is something that I feel this club lacks.
The mood in the dressing room after we beat Plymouth was exactly the same atmosphere after losing 2-0 at Fleetwood. And I spoke to the players about it. That tells me you don’t care about the result.
I know what happens when I lose games. I don’t sleep for two nights. I stare at the ceiling and I watch the games back.
When we win I only don’t sleep for one might and watch the game back a little bit!
The reality is winning is a lot better than losing, isn’t it!
Q: Has that sort of mindset crept into this group over a period of time do you think?
A: We don’t have to go there, do we? It could be down to recruitment. We need players who don’t like getting beat.
Q: And have you already identified players like that?
A: *Laughs* No! (But nods his head vigorously)