Cook on helping young players 'blossom' and why working with Evans was a bigger draw than Town's academy
- Credit: Pagepix/Steve Waller
Paul Cook wants to help Ipswich Town’s ‘bright young players’ blossom but insisted working for owner Marcus Evans was a bigger draw for him than the club’s academy.
Cook’s first home game in charge of the Blues saw him name an Ipswich side including five homegrown players for the first time since August 2019, with Flynn Downes and Jack Lankester coming into the side to join Andre Dozzell, Teddy Bishop and Myles Kenlock for the 1-1 draw with Lincoln.
The new boss is keen to see the club’s talent progress and become central to his plans but insisted he will do everything he can to protect them from the pressures of modern day football.
“I won’t be singling players out a lot because I think too much pressure can get heaped on players at our football clubs,” he said.
“The demands and expectation can be too much for some younger lads to carry.
“My job as a manager, especially over the six weeks of the summer, is to ingrain your habits on your team. You ingrain your habits, your shape, your balances and what you expect from the players.
“We’ve got a lot of bright young players at this club and they need to blossom now going forward.”
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Asked whether working above the club’s academy, which has a good reputation in the game, was a big part of why he took the job, Cook said: “No, I have to be brutally honest. The club, Marcus, Lee O’Neill, that was the attraction because of the relationship those people have had with their managers. That’s massive to me.
“Football is a massively changing game now and that’s life at the top end of football. There are so many components with sporting directors and different people at clubs.
“I’m a great believer that the manager does have an important role to play and has been brought in because of his football knowledge. Speaking with Lee and Marcus especially, I am hopefully going to be part of a success story.
“I need help, of course I do. I need help with recruitment, from the staff and from the players, but Marcus’s relationship with previous managers (is important). Mick McCarthy, when I spoke to him, the relationship he had shone through. It’s very important for a manager to know he has an owner’s faith.”
Asked if Evans, who has been widely reported to be close to selling the club to American investors, has told him whether he will be backed in the summer transfer window, Cook said: “He hasn’t but I don’t ask for that. I genuinely don’t.
“When I come into a club I want to make sure we utilise everything we’ve got within the club first. Marcus will see what we’re doing on the pitch and, like every Ipswich Town fan, will observe the good and the bad.
“At those points we’ll sit down together and say ‘right, is there anything we can do together to help this team’. If there is, fantastic. If not, we go back to the training ground and work harder.”
It’s likely to be a summer of change at Portman Road, with more than 15 senior players out of contract, at which point Cooks believes he will begin to make his mark on the squad.
“Tell Marcus eight windows, lads,” he joked, when asked how long he think he might need.
“If we stick to eight windows we’ll all be happy and we can keep that nice and consistent amongst us.
“Let’s tell Marcus it takes managers eight windows to achieve success and, if we can get him believing that then we’ve got a right good chance.
“In honesty, and I don’t mind telling you, for me it’s one window and a pre-season.”