'We're probably not as good as we think we are' - Cook on FA Cup draw with Barrow

Town manager Paul Cook pictured during the game.

Ipswich Town have tried the 'proven' route with managers - Roy Keane, Paul Jewell, Mick McCarthy, Paul Lambert and Paul Cook (pictured) having all arrived with at least one promotion on their CVs. - Credit: Steve Waller - stephenwaller.com

Ipswich Town manager Paul Cook conceded his team is 'probably not as good as we think we are' following this afternoon's 0-0 home draw with Barrow in the FA Cup.

Hot on the heels of a Papa John's Trophy exit at the hands of Arsenal U21s, the Blues failed to beat a League Two team in a knockout game for a fourth time this season (Newport, Oldham and Colchester) and will now have to make a 640-mile round trip to Cumbria a week on Tuesday. 

"There are a lot of emotions really," said Cook, whose 11th-place side now head into League One away games against Charlton (Tuesday) and Wigan (next Saturday).

"The stadium in the first half wasn't a very nice environment with supporters basically wanting to turn, which I get. The first half performance was very indicative of that.

"I felt in the second half the performance meant the supporters were wanting to support a lot more.

"As you can see with the pitch now it's very dry, very bobbly. All of a sudden it's not conducive to passing football, certainly not passing sideways and backwards where our supporters are quite right to have a go.

"We showed no intensity, we showed no energy. Second half we showed more honesty but probably lacked a bit of quality.

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"As you can see we're in a little period of time now where it's tough. Our players feel it.

"That's when you must show your character.

"As a manager I've been in these situations. At all my clubs I've managed - Chesterfield, Portsmouth, Wigan - I've felt pain. I feel a little bit of pain now because the brutal truth is we're probably not as good as we might want to hope and think we are.

"We are a team that is genuinely trying to work hard to get better. Within that we have deficiencies and they are there for all to see."

Asked if he'd had words with his players at half-time, Cook said: "No, because football is educational. It's about trust. We had to be built off a page.

"We put Joe Pigott on with Macauley Bonne. We needed to play into our strikers and we needed to get some crosses into the box. You can see then the supporters join the game. Our supporters second half were like the team - we all played well. First half we never played well. Second half we all did.

"Our supporters need our help. It's not just about the supporters turning up and getting behind the team, it's about the team lifting our supporters. That's something that we need to do better."

On pairing Pigott and Bonne in the second period, the Blues boss said: "Guys, when things aren't going well every other option is better than the option we're doing. 

"I've been in all these situations as a manager. I've played 4-4-2 in October, November, December and I've always played 4-2-3-1. But we'll go through periods where we need two up front.

"Today's game suited two lads up front and not a lot of intricate play. It was about getting balls in the box, crosses in the box, putting Barrow under pressure and getting that elusive goal.

"If we could have won 1-0 then no-one remembers these games. No-one remembers Crewe next week. It's just about results.

"Unfortunately for us at the minute we're not getting those results that our supporters crave and want.

"The brutal truth is we are probably a little bit behind where we'd all like to be. Some people might not want to hear that, but that's the truth of it."

Since that 4-1 win at Wycombe in early November, Town have won just two of nine games in all competitions (Oldham FA Cup replay and Crewe).

Asked if he felt his team were getting closer to stringing the wins together which will be required to get in the promotion mix, Cook replied: "No. You've watched us - what do you think? I don't think that. But it changes. When we went to Wycombe did we think we were going to win 4-1? When we beat Wycombe 4-1 we played Oldham at home - did we think we were going to draw 1-1? I never. I thought we were going to blow Oldham away. That's football.

"That's the challenge for managers. We've got a privilege and an honour - it's our job to sort the problems out."

Is he concerned that run of wins doesn't look on the horizon?

"I'm 20 league games in and we're in the third round (draw) of the FA Cup," said Cook. "What's the concern? That's modern day football now.

"You guys sharpen your knives very, very quickly in the media. For us football managers that's the nature of the game that we're in. I'll let other people answer that."

Town's trip to Barrow will come in between a trip to Wigan and the visit of Sunderland, for which a bumper Portman Road crowd is expected. 

When it was put to Cook that a replay was the last thing he needed, the Blues boss said: "When Oldham were lining up to take a penalty we'd have loved to have gone up to Oldham. At the end of the day football is about winning games and we haven't won enough of them to be in the position we want to be.

"Our league position isn't where we want it to be and we're now travelling to Barrow in the FA Cup.

"That's the reality of where we're at.

"That's exactly what we've recruited and that's exactly where we're at. The same as the management, we'll grow together and when we have bad days we suffer together. Today that's just part and parcel of our journey."

Cook added: "When you look at us as a team you want to enjoy watching us play, you want to feel confident in the teams we put out.

"We lost Santy (Bersant Celina) yesterday with an injury. George Edmundson is out with an Achilles. These are't made up injuries! We have struggled to put an 11 on the pitch that the supporters trust and probably we all trust, because it's chop and change. It's two steps forwards and three back. That's just where we're at at the minute.

"We're probably a few points off where we'd love to be in the league, four or five points would see us on the cusp of the play-offs. 

"Now we'll travel up to Barrow in a replay. It's us. We're short of where we want to be. We acknowledge that. There's no getting away from that.

"The biggest thing is 'what are we going to do to solve it?' That's my job, the staffs' job, the players' job."

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