'It's a genuine personnel issue' - Cook on goal errors

Town manager Paul Cook unhappy with the linesman.

Ipswich Town manager Paul Cook has seen his side surrender several leads this season. - Credit: Steve Waller - stephenwaller.com

Ipswich Town manager Paul Cook says his team's inability to hold leads is 'a genuine personnel issue'.

The Blues were knocked out of the Papa John's Trophy by Arsenal U21s on Wednesday night. Having led 2-0 at half-time, they were pegged back to 2-2 - Kane Vincent-Young heading into his own net at a corner and Vaclav Hladky getting beaten at his near post - and subsequently lost the penalty shootout.

It was the third time this season that Town have let a two-goal lead slip and the 10th time they have failed to see out a winning position (D5 L5).

Asked if there was anything he can do as a manager when it comes to stopping such costly individual goal errors, Cook replied: “I don’t feel there is. I feel it’s a genuine personnel issue. I always feel that. 

“You have moments in games where individual errors can be lived with. But if you keep making individual errors then there is a bigger problem, a much bigger problem. 

“Taking information in and executing that information is a really big part of the game. 

“As a manager I never want to throw players under the bus. I just don’t think it’s right. I really don’t. A manager’s job is to sort out the problems. 

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“What people don’t ever want to look at is the mass departures and recruitment of the summer and the time it’s taken to get the squad up and running. 

“If you look at the last 12-14 results we’ve been okay. The points tally is not bad at all. But the handicap start is really hurting us because we’re not catching the teams above. 

“At some point, if we want to be successful, we’ve got to start catching the teams above us."

Cook comments were a continuation of a theme from midweek when, after the game, he said 'until we change the individuals then the individual errors won't change' and 'personnel around the club might feel they are safe sometimes, but that's not how it works at big clubs'.

The Blues boss did sign the vast majority of this squad though. Is that a fair comment?

“I’ve got no problem with that," he replied. "What people are then saying is that recruiting 20 players who have never met each other should automatically mean promotion. 

“Good luck with that one! I think every club would go out and sign 20 players if that was the case. 

“That type of recruitment doesn’t guarantee success. It was a platform for us to change the club from where we felt we were at to a platform to become a different club. 

“In my world the work is just starting. In other peoples’ worlds the work should end quickly – that's what they think. That’s football today. 

“I always believe people, especially supporters, should be allowed to have a voice and opinion. But always have it at the correct time." 

So he's not talking about changing personnel in the next transfer window then? 

“No, no, no," replied Cook. "Personnel means the people who are selected on the day. The reality for big clubs, good clubs, is they end up having a team that they trust and know what they are going to get from. 

“We look at our personnel regularly. We want them to gain trust. We want to trust them, they want to trust us, our supporters want to trust them. 

“But while we keep making individual errors and mistakes it’s hard for that trust to develop. So you work hard with the personnel. You show them the defensive set-up for Arsenal’s corner. Why have Arsenal scored from their one corner in the game? It’s about repetition. 

“But at some point going forwards, things have to change. I know fans always want managers to change, because that’s the one common theme for success, but you must always respect being at a good club. 

“It comes with a pressure to deliver and perform and play. If you keep making the same mistakes then eventually, no different to anyone else, you will come under pressure. Because you won’t get picked. 

“When you’re at clubs like ours you must respect your shirt because one day it won’t be there for you."

Asked what he'd liked to see his players do when they next go 2-0 up, Cook said: “That’s a very fair question. 

“Are we at the stage where need to change the formation when we’re winning? It’s 10 games where we’ve taken the lead (and not won). It’s hurtful. 

“You keep taking great steps and then you want to handicap yourself with bad steps. 

“You know yourself though what happens. You make changes and then supporters go ‘who the hell does he think he is?’ You can’t win. You’re damned if you and you’re damned if you don’t. 

“We’re at a point where it’s hard for supporters to trust the players in the team. I include myself in that, I’m the manager. 

“The reality is, the trust will only come when we see games out and the results become consistent."

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