North Stander: 'I’m sure it will be very different next season, when Cook has built his own team'

A fans flag amongst the empty seats at Portman Road.

A fans flag amongst the empty seats at Portman Road. - Credit: Steve Waller-www.stephenwaller.c

They think it's all over... Well, it nearly is. North Stander TERRY HUNT, like so many Town fans, is willing the time away until Paul Cook can build his own team.

From the sublime heights of being the best team in Europe, to looking like a Sunday morning side who have won a competition to play at Portman Road - that’s the sad 40-year journey for Ipswich Town.

Compare and contrast. Exactly four decades ago, our star-studded side of talented, highly motivated international footballers were preparing to win the prestigious UEFA Cup after a season in which they came so close to capturing three major trophies.

Oli Hawkins heads clear.

Oli Hawkins heads clear. - Credit: Steve Waller-www.stephenwaller.c

Fast forward to today, and we have a team which, on current form, is undoubtedly the very worst in the third division. In a dreadful league, that is quite something to say.

They haven’t scored a goal in more than ten hours of appalling football, and look odds-on to create an unwanted club record, currently held by the 1994-95 relegation team. At least those players were operating in the top division!

Paul Cook’s searing verdict after the latest debacle against Wimbledon must surely rank as the most scathing by any manager, of any team, in the history of football.

Town manager Paul Cook calms things down.

Ipswich Town have drawn five of their last eight games 0-0. Photo: Steve Waller - Credit: Steve Waller-www.stephenwaller.c

He said it was the worst display he could recall, comparing his players to a Sunday morning side who’d won a competition to play at the stadium. He also accused some of them of looking like they don’t want to be footballers - and said that would soon be the case.

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It’s been obvious for a while that Cook and his team have had a serious falling-out. He doesn’t rate them - and continually says so in public - and they have reacted by producing some of the worst football any of us can remember.

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We are, of course, in a strange state of limbo. Most of our first team squad know they won’t be here next season. Their heads are elsewhere. Mind you, quite how they think they’re impressing potential new employers with the way they’re playing is beyond me.

Only three games to go, thank goodness. Quite rightly, Cook says he won’t play a team packed with kids, as some fans have been urging.

Armando Dobra in action against AFC Wimbledon.

Armando Dobra in action against AFC Wimbledon. - Credit: Steve Waller-www.stephenwaller.c

But I do think we should be seeing much more of both Armando Dobra and Tristan Nydam, two of our young players who have been among the very few to impress in Cook’s short time at Portman Road.

Those two at least look as though they have the passion and enthusiasm which the rest of this squad so badly lack. Dobra and Nydam will surely have a big part to play in Cook's rebuilding process.

Ludicrously, some people are already questioning whether Cook is the right man for the job. Yes, his record is dreadful - two wins in his first 13 games. Yes, he accepts he should have done better. Maybe he had been unwise to be so critical of his players in public.

But let’s get real here. We were all thoroughly fed up with Paul Lambert’s ludicrous post-match praise for the players, after performances which we all knew had been very poor.

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We can’t have it both ways. Cook is searingly honest about the team’s shortcomings. I‘m sure they don’t like to hear it, but I think it’s refreshing. So many managers hide behind glib, meaningless phrases.

I’m sure it will be very different next season, when Cook has built his own team. That, of course, is when we should judge his performance.

So, three games to go before we can consign this excruciating season to the history books. It will certainly go down as one of the worst ever for Ipswich Town.

Kane Vincent-Young takes a throw -in against AFC Wimbledon.

Kane Vincent-Young takes a throw -in against AFC Wimbledon. - Credit: Steve Waller-www.stephenwaller.c

Of course, we all anticipate much, much brighter times ahead. Our new owners keep telling us about their ambitions for the club. They're very much in the honeymoon period at the moment, but soon the talking will need to stop and they will have to start delivering.

The first big announcement will be on season ticket prices and how to deal with compensating the many fans who have paid good money and seen no live football.

Teddy Bishop on the ball during the first half.

Teddy Bishop on the ball during the first half. - Credit: Steve Waller-www.stephenwaller.c

I really hope they take the opportunity to create some much-needed goodwill. Let’s have a big gesture - reduce the prices, get people through the turnstiles, pack the stadium, and create a terrific atmosphere.

Oh - and a free drink for every fan at the first home game next season. Our new owners can certainly afford it, and we deserve it after what we’ve had to suffer in the last few seasons!