Paul Cook speaks about Ipswich Town takeover for first time
- Credit: ITFC
Ipswich Town manager Paul Cook admits last week's takeover came as a 'total surprise', but says the football pedigree of the club's new owners makes him 'quite excited'.
Following weeks of reports and speculation, long-term owner Marcus Evans sold the club to US-led group Gamechanger 20 Ltd last Wednesday for a fee believed to be around £40m.
Cook left his former club Wigan after they went into administration, recently revealing that he'd never spoken to the owners and 'hadn't seen the danger signs', and made it clear that working closely with Evans was a big draw for him when taking the Ipswich job.
Town's new chairman Mike O'Leary was quick to reassure Cook that he had also been the new owners' number one choice for the job.
However, when Cook cancelled his pre-match press conference on Friday and again didn't speak to the media following Saturday's 0-0 home draw with MK Dons, some supporters did begin to come up with conspiracy theories.
"I only resigned for three days," laughed Cook, as an initial ice-breaker at yesterday morning's press conference.
On O'Leary's reassurance about his position, the Blues boss said: "The first thing I thought was 'thank God for that!' Because I was in trouble if they didn't say that wasn't I?!
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"Like everyone else, I think the takeover took me by total surprise. I was turning up at Portman Road with Lee O'Neill for a meeting with Marcus. We had big plans for the off season and implementing changes that Marcus was about to take on at Ipswich Town Football Club.
"I got told late, like everyone else, but I can only reiterate that my meetings with Michael O'Leary have been absolutely 100% positive.
"Michael is a gentleman. Once you meet Michael you'll work that out quite quickly. He's a good guy.
"Going forward, I've been in football long enough to know the rules lads. I'm not a stupid person. I know exactly what goes on in football.
"If the new ownership are happy with me though, and that's the way we're going to go forwards, I only want to be here guys, I have got to tell everyone that.
"I joined a club where I knew it was going to be difficult, I knew there was going to be change within the club, and I knew, going forwards, the ambitions that we all had.
"I feel the new owners have come in and probably added to those ambitions.
"If I can be part of that and of I can help with that success then I'll be one of the happiest people around here.
"But that is all for tomorrow guys and we must leave that all for tomorrow."
Asked if he'd spoken to any of the new US owners yet, who have had success building Phoenix Rising in Arizona, Cook said: "No, it's been very much Mike. As you can imagine a lot happened very quickly last week. Over a period of time now I'm sure we'll get to see and hear a lot more from the new owners.
"They've got a real strong pedigree in football and sport. With the greatest respect to football owners today, when you look at the pedigree they have in this industry, it makes me quite excited. I've got to tell you that.
"But I also know my job can be perilous.
"The thing I have to highlight though is that the future of this football club looks to be in very, very good hands. That's a great day for everyone."
Asked if there had been any initial reservations, given his experience at Wigan, Cook said: "I'm a football person. You know my background and my CV. The reality is my big decision when leaving Wigan was that I wanted to work with owners that I trusted. That was a huge thing for me. In Marcus and Lee O'Neill it was quickly evident that I did trust them people.
"Going forwards, now I've met Michael, and having heard about the plans, my trust with them will only grow over time. I'm not going to sit here and say I trust these lads because we don't know each other yet. They've got to work with me and I've got to work with them.
"But I've been led to believe the relationship will be a good one and a strong one.
"My job will be hopefully to deliver the success that the owners crave, that the supporters crave and that everyone craves, including myself."
Speaking earlier in the press conference, Cook said: "First of all I'd like to wish Marcus every success in his future, whatever he decides to go into. I only spent a short time with Marcus, but I believe he did a great job. He had so much commitment to Ipswich Town Football Club. That's something that I know a lot of our fans don't agree with, but I saw sides of him and the money that he'd invested in the football club previously.
"I've seen what poor owners do to football clubs, so Marcus leaves with my best wishes. I wish him every success for the future if he does go into football again.
"I've spoken to Michael O'Leary on numerous occasions now. He's a really good guy, he's a good football person. I think it's very, very exciting times for Ipswich.
"As a person and a manager I'm very much into the present and now. I've taken 11 points out of the fixtures we've played. Is it 10 points in nine games? We've only won two out of nine. We don't score enough goals. I've got lists the height of my door with problems on the pitch at the minute. And we want to be promoted tis year.
"The new owners are bringing so much optimism and freshness to the club. We want to compete at high levels in this football pyramid. Over a period of time we'll get to see the new owners a lot more. These are exciting times around the corner, which is great, but we've got some here and now issues that we want to address.
"As a football staff and football people we are in a push for promotion and we've got to stay with it."
On how late in the day he was told about the takeover, Cook said: "I've got to be careful because you want to take me into waters that I just don't want go. I can only be truthful. I was aware that Marcus was looking for investment into the football club. I think a deal was struck in the end where Marcus couldn't have the majority control of the club. I think the new American investors wanted that.
"A deal was struck. I was informed, like you lot, very late on in the proceedings. But I wish Marcus well.
"There are absolutely no issues between Paul Cook, Marcus Evans, new owners or anything going forwards other than total commitment to drive Ipswich Town Football Club back to where we belong."
So he's happy?
"I'm not happy because I watch a team who can't score and doesn't win enough!" he joked. "So I'm very, very much far from happy, but apart from being unhappy with that, I'm quite happy!
"You can ask me another 46 questions on the takeover, but you're not going to take me anywhere else! We've got a great game tomorrow night at Wimbledon. If that was with terraces open, how many fans would be travelling from Ipswich to support their team?
"There's enough negativity in the world now to last people two lifetimes. We've got a job to do tomorrow night that could drive us forwards. We've got to stay with that guys."