Mike Bacon: Cook gets the mood music right, but can his players call the tune?

Ipswich Town manager Paul Cook on the touchline during the Sky Bet League One match at Portman Road,

Paul Cook - a big positive for Town - Credit: PA

Bizarrely, and because we are in this most hapless of leagues, the Blues are still just two points off the play-offs. Absurd, isn't it?

I don't know whether to laugh or cry as I write that.

Our recent performances and results have bordered on the inept and yet, with 10 games to go and despite having not threatened either the play-offs, or the opponents' net much in recent weeks, we are still in the mix.

Teddy Bishop in action during the first half at Wigan

Teddy Bishop in action during the first half at Wigan - Credit: Pagepix Ltd

And, Paul Cook was right. Beat Bristol Rovers and Rochdale this Easter weekend and we'll be right back in the play-off picture, we may even be in the top six. There, I've said it again, it sounds ridiculous doesn't it?

Despite our tepid run of results and performances on the pitch, at least the new gaffer is giving Town fans hope.

While he won't throw his players under the bus, neither will he pander to any weak performances, both physically and mentally and he'll tell fans as much. He gets the mood music right.

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You can tell already he knows the strengths and weaknesses of this Town squad. Players want new contracts? It's up to them.

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You also know Cook is not saying the things he does as some sort of publicity stunt - he doesn't have to show off to us. His credentials as a manager are there for all to see. We know we've got a good'un. There are only one group of people whose credentials are being scrutinised closely right now - and they know who they are.

Kieran Dyer watches the warm up at the DW Stadium in Wigan today

Kieron Dyer watches the warm up at the DW Stadium in Wigan - Credit: Pagepix Ltd

I must admit I was thrilled to see Kieron Dyer involved with the first-team squad at Wigan.

We all know how much Kieron loves Ipswich Town football club. For Cook to identify and bring coach Kieron into the first-team mix so early on in his tenure, is refreshing and there is little doubt Kieron will learn much.

KARL FULLER column....

So, Bristol Rovers and Rochdale it is then this Easter weekend - the bottom two!

For someone who, back in the day, enjoyed seeing Town take on the likes of Arsenal and West Ham (or a combination of top clubs at the time) over the Easter period, no disrespect to Rovers or Rochdale, but it's - let's say - different now.

Town players celebrate with Alan Judge after he had given them a first half lead.

Town players celebrate with Alan Judge after he had given them a first half lead against Blackpool - Credit: Picture: Steve Waller www.ste

I find it a bit sad that these games are being mentioned as 'must-win', which in fairness they probably are. 'Must-win'... surely we should be saying, 'will win'.

At least Cook has already seen enough and, in fairness, he's giving every player a chance to show him how much they want to be part of his future package. This weekend has the potential to be very interesting.


Nick Pope was released by Ipswich Town as a 16-year-old but is now set to make his England debut. Pi

Nick Pope was released by Ipswich Town as a 16-year-old but is now set to make his England debut. Picture: PA - Credit: PA

While I'm on the subject of 'wanting it', which I'm not really, but if you read between the lines above you can see that I am, I just wanted to give a shout-out to England keeper Nick Pope.

Rejected by Town as a teenager and playing for Bury Town in non-league just 10 years ago, Pope then spent the next four years on loan to five different clubs after signing for Charlton, before being snapped up by Burnley in 2016.

He has now made six England appearances - before tonight's Poland clash, should he play - and not conceded a goal yet! From Bury Town to England - what a man.

STEPHEN WARD: 'We have to believe we can get in play-offs'

I say all this because sometimes as fans we can forget those players who go that extra mile. Who push themselves, deal with adversity and set-backs, have even dropped into non-league to keep their dreams alive. Those players who being a professional footballer means everything.

There are plenty out there. I know that... fans know that - and Paul Cook knows that.

Pope is a credit to himself and his profession.

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