Cook believes Ipswich are 'biggest and best' club in League One
- Credit: Steve Waller - www.stephenwaller
Proud Ipswich Town manager Paul Cook believes his is the 'biggest and best' club in League One.
The Blues face newly-relegated Sheffield Wednesday at Portman Road tomorrow in game that will be played in front of more than 20,000 spectators.
Sunderland, Portsmouth, Charlton, Wigan and Bolton - also Premier League clubs this century - all find themselves in the third-tier of English football too.
"The hairs on the back of my neck are standing up ahead of tomorrow," said Cook.
“I think if we were first and second in the league it would probably be nearer 30,000 wouldn’t it? That’s what both clubs are capable of delivering.
“To manage these sort of teams – whether it’s me, Danny Cowley, Darren Moore, Lee Johnson – it's a great honour. Because if you can be the one who delivers success to the fans then you’ll be held in such high esteem. These clubs are desperate to go back to where they want to be."
He continued: “I just think we’re the biggest club in the league, we’re the best club in the league and I think we’ve got the best squad. But that would be what I think, wouldn’t it?
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“If I’m sitting in Danny Cowley’s office, Lee Johnson’s office, Darren Moore’s office I’d be saying exactly the same. I’m not trying to open a football debate there.
“I just have total faith in my own club. I’m saying that out of pure loyalty to my own football club and where I’m at.
"I just want us to be as successful as we can. I want to see our fans leaving stadiums absolutely delighted like they did Sincil Bank last weekend – that's what football is all about.
“The welcome myself and the coaching staff have had into the community has been absolutely first class. The positivity towards us all has been absolutely fantastic. It’s something that drives us on. Delivering success for these fans would probably be the highlight of my career.
“I just keep trying to get the performances correct and make the supporters happy. When the supporters are happy then everyone is happy. That’s what we’re working towards."
Cook's new-look squad went eight games without winning across all competitions at the start of the new season, meaning there were joyous scenes following a 1-0 triumph at Lincoln City last weekend.
“It was probably our most complete performance," said Cook. "It had a mixture of everything in there – good play, good quality, good discipline, good desire to keep a clean sheet, better team shape out of possession. There were a lot of better qualities than what we had showed in the previous games.
“We'd been competing very well in every game up until Bolton (a 5-2 home loss). The second half of that match was the first signs of worry for everyone because we capitulated.
“Throughout my career, my teams haven’t really capitulated. But I look back to that game and (Christian) Walton is making his debut, (George) Edmundson is making his debut. How can we just expect these guys to go straight into a team and know everything we want?
“We are up and running now. That was a big, big win for us. You felt it in the stadium. But that’s gone now. That’s gone! It’s on to Sheffield Wednesday, then Doncaster (at home next Tuesday) and, before you know it, we’ll be up at Accrington (next Saturday). Nine points to play for. How many can we get? Let’s start tomorrow with Sheff Wed. Let’s try and get three.
“I think everybody in the county enjoyed the win last week. We needed it. Everyone knows how much we needed it.
“It was a clean sheet and we saw the game out very, very professionally. Now we know it’s in us. We’ve done it before and we can do it again.
“What we also must do is respect the opposition. Every week we play against very organised, well-drilled teams. We have to make sure we turn up every week, because if we don’t then we will not win games.
“That’s something we’re trying to get into the players’ thought processes."
Following their final day relegation, Sheffield Wednesday boss Moore has overseen a major squad rebuild. The Owls got off to a flying start, winning three, drawing one and not conceding a single goal, but have had a bit of reality check in recent weeks with defeats to Morecambe, Plymouth and a draw against Shrewsbury.
“The pain of relegation is tough for those supporters because they are a big club, aren’t they?" said Cook. "Of course they are. It’s a massive football club. They’ve got an amazing fanbase, great history, it’s a great football city.
“Darren (Moore) has gone in there at a very, very, very difficult time. Having come so close to staying up they are now going through a bit of rebuild.
“They’re no different to ourselves, Sunderland, Portsmouth. There is pressure to deal with.
“Tomorrow I think will be a fantastic game. I think you'll see two teams intent on trying to win a football match played in front of a fantastic attendance at a great ground. I can't wait for the game."
On the big week ahead, he added: "Any manager will always tell you if you ever put three wins together in a week the world will look a totally, totally different place.
“But when you get over one hurdle, the most important hurdle is the next hurdle. Do not get too far ahead of yourself.
“We’ve prepared as well as we can for Sheffield Wednesday and then we will prepare for Doncaster on the Tuesday.
“It's very much one step at a time.
“We know we’re up against a strong opponent tomorrow, but Lincoln were strong, Bolton were strong, Burton were strong – they're all strong.
“The most important thing is how we can perform. Can we give the fans that first home win of the season?
“If we can do that there will be such a feelgood factor around the club."