North Stander: We've become a sacking club - and that makes me uneasy
- Credit: Steve Waller - stephenwaller.com
Journalist and Ipswich Town fan Terry Hunt shares his thoughts after the sacking of Paul Cook....
Well, I didn’t see that coming! I was convinced Paul Cook would be given until the end of the season to get things right – but our American owners had other ideas.
Only time will tell if they’ve been too impatient. If a new manager comes in and propels us into the play-offs, then the decision to get rid of Cook will be justified.
But I have to admit to feeling rather uneasy about what happened on Saturday evening.
Since George Burley’s departure 19 years ago, we’ve now seen eight different managers come and go.
We’re a long way from the ridiculous revolving doors at places like Watford, but it does look as though we’ve become a sacking club.
It’s in stark contrast to the dignified patience shown by previous owners. I know, I know – everything is different now. But still....
Paul Cook was given nine months, and only four months with a squad of players he wanted. The form has been frustrating, we all agree. But is that really long enough?
His was the second shortest stay of any Town manager, after the disastrous tenure of Paul Hurst. Even Roy Keane and Paul Jewell were given longer.
One thing is for sure. We now know our new owners are not prepared to sit on their hands if they think change is necessary.
Cook has paid the price because he simply couldn’t get the best from a talented group of players. They performed well in fits and starts, but never reached any kind of consistency.
We all thought that the thrilling win at Wycombe a month ago meant the new team had finally clicked, but the opposite has happened. Since then, our form has got worse, and the goals have dried up.
Two desperately disappointing home displays in knockout games – against Arsenal’s kids and League Two strugglers Barrow – proved the final straw for our owners and chief executive Mark Ashton.
I feel very sorry for Paul Cook, who always comes across as a decent bloke who really wanted to succeed at Ipswich Town.
Some players, including captain Sam Morsy, Conor Chaplin and out of favour James Norwood, have all taken to social media to say how disappointed they are.
Morsy and Chaplin admitted the team hadn’t performed well enough. Why was that? Was it, as many have suggested, because Cook lacked an experienced right-hand man? Perhaps. His game management certainly always seemed questionable.
A couple of weeks ago, I looked at the squad photo. Either side of the players were tracksuited backroom staff. Loads of them. I thought back to the 1970s, when the only non-players in the squad photo were manager Bobby Robson and trainer Cyril Lea.
As I’ve said before, I would love to understand exactly what all these people do. No doubt most of them will now be leaving and replaced by new faces.
But, at the end of the day, the players have to take a huge amount of responsibility.
Time and again, they have started well in games, gone ahead, and then inexplicably taken their foot off the gas, and literally thrown games away. Has that been the manager’s fault?
We are where we are. In the immediate future, a caretaker will be appointed to take charge of the big games against Charlton and Wigan.
The favourite looks to be John McGreal. If he does well, I suppose he could be a candidate for the job permanently.
So, we are yet again speculating about who our next full-time manager might be. It’s a whole new ball game with the owners. We really have no idea what their thinking will be.
Will they go for a big name, like Frank Lampard? Would he really come to a mid-table third division club, albeit one with huge unfulfilled potential?
Or will they target a proven League One boss, someone like Michael Appleton, Karl Robinson, or Ryan Lowe?
The left-field options of Neil Warnock or even going back to George Burley, seem highly unlikely. We will see.
It now looks as though the new manager will get his Portman Road welcome at a packed stadium for the Sunderland game.
I wish Paul Cook well. I’m sure he will succeed in the future. Meanwhile, I hope this is the right decision for our football club.