Karl Fuller: Lots of concerns, but I'm still excited at the thought of what's to come with Cook at the helm

Paul Cook watches the warm-up at Gillingham

Paul Cook, hopefully exciting times ahead - Credit: Pagepix Ltd

During my years as a Town fan, I have lost count of how many times we have come up against opponents who had recently sacked a manager, appointed a new one who then took charge in their first game against us and generally won.

Kayden Jackson's second half header which hit the bar at Gillingham

Kayden Jackson's second half header which hit the bar at Gillingham - Credit: Pagepix Ltd

It has also happened when opponents have taken on board a new owner.

We simply have trouble against rejuvenated sides.

I think it all started for me in terms of getting an idea of these happenings back in 1994 when a trip to Maine Road, then home of Manchester City, coincided with ex-City favourite Francis Lee taking ownership of the club.

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The Kippax was certainly bouncing that day as City won. Ever since, I have dreaded Town being the first side to come up against a changed outfit either in the dugout or at board level. Such changes naturally come about after a poor run of results in the main.

Town's Teddy Bishop and Kayden Jackson leave the pitch disappointed after defeat at Gillingham

So much for the 'new manager bounce' on Saturday! - Credit: Pagepix Ltd

So, it is just so Ipswich Town that, after a set of very good results, a new manager comes in and the ‘new manager bounce’ forsakes us!

Before Saturday, only five of our 17 previous managers since turning professional back in 1936 had won their first game in charge. Just Mick McCarthy, Roy Keane and Joe Royle were triumphant winners in game one since Scott Duncan in 1937 and Mick O’Brien in 1936.

Vadaine Oliver scores against Ipswich at Gillingham

Vadaine Oliver scores against Ipswich at Gillingham - Credit: Pagepix Ltd

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However, all that said, I lay no blame at the hands of Paul Cook for Saturday’s dire defeat at Gillingham.

I think that you have to credit Gillingham for the way they played. They simply bullied us, and made the most of our costly errors and fully deserved their win.

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So on that point, how refreshing it was to hear Cook in his post-match interview recognise that we were second best and afforded due praise on the Gills. He had witnessed the same game as the rest of us and there was no sugar-coating to be had of our defeat.

The previous incumbent would have seen it very differently I’m sure.

Ipswich players celebrate Luke Chambers pulling Ipswich level at Gillingham

Ipswich players celebrate Luke Chambers pulling Ipswich level at Gillingham - Credit: Pagepix Ltd

Whether you can put the defeat down to our gruelling schedule is a possibility I suppose, but given that nearly all clubs in the division are equally in the same position, I hope that we can just put it down to a bad day, learn from those mistakes made and move on quickly.

Josh Harrop is fouled at Gillingham

Josh Harrop is fouled at Gillingham - Credit: Pagepix Ltd

It does not get any easier with Lincoln City next in town and, after the three recent good wins against top-ten opposition, it would be great to add another. And with some results going our way on Saturday afternoon, we remain two points outside the play-offs with a game in hand on Portsmouth. All is therefore not lost.

What Cook will hopefully learn very quickly in these remaining couple of months of the season is which players will not be up to the standard required to add another promotion to his CV.

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The problem he has is two-fold. With so many games to get through, there is not the desired amount of time to get his ideas across on the training field, and with so many players currently on our books, where on earth does he begin to sieve the best from the rest to make what would ordinarily be a group of 22 to work with?

Kayden Jackson back in action at Gillingham

Kayden Jackson back in action at Gillingham - Credit: Pagepix Ltd

There are in the region of 15-20 players out of contract in the summer. Cook will no doubt look to bring in some new players with added quality, whatever division we may end up in.

So, whilst reaching the play-offs will be his primary aim, he will also be building an idea of who to let go. With such a massive overhaul to come, we have to hope that we hit the ground running next season.

Despite all those concerns, I am excited at the thought of what’s to come with Cook in charge.

Gary Roberts during the warm-up at Gillingham

Gary Roberts during the warm-up at Gillingham - Credit: Pagepix Ltd

If he can repeat his win ratio that he earnt at Portsmouth and to a lesser degree, at Wigan Athletic, then we could be in for some very good times. I am also pleased to see Gary Roberts back at the club.

He could still do a job on the pitch!

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