'Far better than us... they are something we aspire to be' - Cook on Rotherham loss
- Credit: Steve Waller - stephenwaller.com
Ipswich Town manager Paul Cook admits is team were second best all over the pitch in tonight's 2-0 home loss to Rotherham United.
Ben Wiles and Shane Ferguson scored in either half as the Millers out-fought and out-thought the Blues on Suffolk soil, just as they did on their way to promotion in 2019/20.
Now unbeaten in 15, Rotherham have moved to the top of the League One table, while Town have slipped to 13th - equidistant from the play-off places and relegation zone - following a deflating four days.
"The brutal truth is we were beaten by a far better team all over the pitch," admitted Cook.
"It's a benchmark for this division and where we want to be.
"We've walked into a very strong side who have showed how far we have got to go in the division.
"They had everything - game management, desire, work ethic. You've just got to take your hat off to them. It's something that we aspire to be.
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"Tonight's disappointing because we have made some really good strides, there has been positivity, but we've probably dampened that a lot.
"It hurts. We just have to lick our wounds."
Cook, whose side host rock-bottom Crewe on Sunday, continued: "Tonight we were way off it. Credit to Rotherham. I knew it was going to be a difficult game. Tonight they brought everything to the table. They are such a formidable opponent in this division.
"There's no excuses from me tonight, absolutely none. Saturday I was disappointed because I thought we played well at Sunderland and deserved to win. Tonight we deserved what we got, which is nothing.
"We've now got to use that as motivation to drive us on and get better.
"Everything that was good about Rotherham tonight was lacking in us. That's the disappointing thing."
The Blues boss added: "Everything is a reaction to a result in football. If we're going build a solid team that will hopefully take us forward the bigger picture is something that you must look at. You can't have this short-term outlook where after a win we might think that we'll get there and then defeats make you feel like the world's about to end.
"Everyone wants to fast forward to get promoted. The reality is when we're doing what we're trying to do there are going to be hiccups. There's no doubt about that. We've recruited a lot of players.
"The reality is we watch our team perform and that will be the biggest indicator of where we are at. Where we feel we are at tonight after that game is not a great place, so we have to manage that."
Town didn't produce their first shot on target until stoppage-time of this game. They have now failed to score in four of their last five games.
"Three games ago we were the highest scorers in the division," said Cook. "We haven't said to them 'stop shooting', we haven't said to them 'stop crossing', we haven't said 'stop creating chances'. It is what it is.
"I like to think I'm experienced now. On nights like tonight we just say 'well done' to Rotherham and wish them a safe trip home."
Asked about his decision to bring on Joe Pigott to partner Macauley Bonne up front for the final 20 minutes, Cook said: "I'm not going to debate the team selections and formations. It's just a difficult night tonight.
"We lost Sone Aluko, whose father passed away, which was a disappointing one because Wes Burns is also out on that right side with his hamstring.
"You can debate the team and what's gone wrong, but there's no point now. Let's just have some manners.
"It's just a disappointing night we've got to bounce back from."
On homegrown left-back Bailey Clements, who started his fourth successive game before being subbed in the second half, Cook said: "Bailey's been excellent in his three or four games. Defensively we were always going to be tested tonight. Bailey's come into the team and done really, really excellent. He can certainly hold his head up high."#