Mike Bacon: 'The ball's in the players' court, not Cook's'

Paul Cook will lead Ipswich Town at Portman Road for the first time this evening

Paul Cook, under no illusions - Credit: Pagepix

Well, if Paul Cook was under any illusion of the task ahead of him - he isn't now!

Four games in and four points from a possible 12, you couldn't blame some Town fans for wondering if Marcus Evans has got the right man!

Ipswich react to going two behind at Fleetwood Town

It's up to the players what they want to achieve this season - Credit: Pagepix Ltd

Yet, nothing could be further from the truth. Because Ipswich Town fans are a knowledgeable bunch.

They know good football when they see it. They know a good pass, a decent run behind the defence, good positional play, players being brave on the ball, solid tackling at the back, good goalkeeper distribution.

And they know all that not because they live in the past.

Town scored six against Nottingham Forest in March 2005 as Shefki Kuqi, Darren Bent and Tommy Miller

Town scored six against Nottingham Forest in March 2005 as Shefki Kuqi, Darren Bent and Tommy Miller celebrate

I've said this before and I'll say this again, George Burley's era was only 20 years ago, Joe Royle and his exciting style of play (Bent and Kuqi - how we loved it!), was only 15 years ago.

Even Big Mick got us to the Championship play-offs in 2015 - and it wasn't all 'every point's a prisoner' football either! Or though it didn't last, sadly!

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Yep! We know our football here in Suffolk, you can't pull the wool over our eyes - oh, I forgot to mention Sir Alf Ramsey and Sir Bobby Robson! Silly me!

You can't fool us! Sorting the wheat from the chaff and all that! And Paul Cook knows his football.

Fleetwood Town take the lead against Ipswich

Fleetwood Town take the lead against Ipswich - Credit: Pagepix Ltd

It's clear he is a football man - a football fans' man. He's already spoken about the match-day experience, pint before the game, enjoy the game, support the team, a pint after rejoicing or moaning at team selection!

TOWN PLAYER ratings against Fleetwood

"I’ve been brought up as a football fan to support your team, get behind your team and have no negativity," Cook said recently. Fair point. But he knows it works both ways.

Cook is our type of manager. He won't go slating his squad publicly - we don't mind that. At least neither does he try to mask performances he knows are dire.

Cole Skuse under pressure at Fleetwood Town

Cole Skuse under pressure at Fleetwood Town - Credit: Pagepix Ltd

I think he has the potential to be a Town manager we will look back in years to come with much fondness. How far can he take us?

Right now though, he needs players to walk alongside him. Will this current crop? Well, if the away performances at Gillingham and Fleetwood are anything to go by, I'm not sure of how many want to stay. Maybe they all do. Maybe none of them do. Hard to tell.

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We certainly know there are plenty with contracts up this summer. We also know - and accept - it hasn't been a great few seasons being a player at Portman Road - nae lad, it hasn't!

But a footballer's career is a short one.

Troy Parrott runs into trouble at Fleetwood Town

Troy Parrott runs into trouble at Fleetwood Town on Tuesday night. - Credit: Pagepix Ltd

So, the ball's in the players' court, not Cook's. He has the recent promotion cvs to show us what he's achieved. He can coach, he can motivate. No, he hasn't won the Champions League or managed a national side. But he knows what it takes.

I'm not going to criticise players in this column, Cook isn't going to publicly criticise them. It's entirely up to them what they want out of their job.

Just as most of us go to work each day, so they go to do theirs. Quite simply, it's how you want to judge yourself. It's a life thing.

Cardboard cut-outs have been the only fans allowed inside Portman Road so far this season Picture: S

No more cut-outs, fans will be back soon. And they know their football - Credit: PA

Of course, when it comes to football, quality is quality, ability is ability, every football fan understands that. But thankfully for players, effort and commitment have no barriers.

I've said before and I'll say again - this League One is absolute toilet!

On Tuesday night, play-off chasing Lincoln, Doncaster and Portsmouth all lost - as did Town. At this rate Burton Albion will be fancying their chances of a play-off place and they were bottom last month. Quite simply there are no great sides in this League, promotion is there for the taking.

Kayden Jackson delivers a cross at Fleetwood Town

Kayden Jackson delivers a cross at Fleetwood Town - Credit: Pagepix Ltd

Cook will know that and Cook will know if this squad doesn't at least get this club into the play-offs this season, then huge changes will not just be required, but made.

Because the fans will be back next season. And we know our football.

"The team that was picked tonight was comfortably good enough to win the game for Ipswich Town," Cook said after the Fleetwood clash. Yep, we know that Paul.

I'll wager he's already eyeing up the summer. It's up to the players.... It's a state of mind, I suppose.