'There are a million pundits... it becomes tedious' - Cook on Portsmouth trip

Paul Cook after the draw at Cambridge United.

Ipswich Town Paul Cook after the draw at Cambridge United. - Credit: Pagepix Ltd

Ipswich Town manager Paul Cook says he is frustrated at how much his new-look team's start to the season has been analysed.

With 19 summer summer signings being integrated, the Blues find themselves 15th in the League One table following 12 games.

On Saturday, a two-goal lead was let slip in a 2-2 draw at Cambridge United. It means that 15 points have now been dropped from winning positions and that Town have failed to beat all four newly-promoted clubs.

Conversely, the Blues have now lost just one of their last seven games in all competitions.

Speaking ahead of tomorrow night's game at Portsmouth, Cook said: "For managers now every substitution gets debated, every point gets debated, it’s just the way football’s gone. 

“For us, we prefer to plan over a longer period to sustain getting better. It stops you from making knee-jerk decisions. I see managers do that a lot, sometimes through pressure from outside influences. 

"On Saturday, for example, everyone will have an opinion on the substitutions. Should you put these players on to see the game out? 

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"At five o’clock on Saturday night there is a million pundits and experts in the world of football. A million. An absolute million.

"The reality for us is that we don’t really listen to outside influences, if we be truthful. 

"We prefer to analyse the games, look back at Cambridge on Saturday and ask what could we have done better to have won the game."

Paul Cook after the final whistle at Cambridge.

Paul Cook after the final whistle at Cambridge. - Credit: Pagepix Ltd

He continued: "We’re 12 league games in. Twelve! It’s such a low amount of league games to have been played with a new group.  

"We’ve seen so many changes in personnel and positional play. We’ve not picked the same team more than once through a multitude of reasons."

Ipswich are the topscorers in the division, but it's also the case that no-one has conceded more.

On trying to improve the latter, Cook said: "I’ve been in these positions so many times before. At my first cub, Chesterfield, I tried to sign Ryan Cresswell about 20 times because he was six foot five and could head every ball out the box. 

"Clubs have a way of playing, they have a style of playing, an identity of playing. The hardest teams to play against are the teams that have no fear.  

"Cambridge played with no fear for the last 15/20 minutes of that game. When you play with no fear you throw men forwards, caution goes to the wind, you just gamble a bit and, in my world, we should go and score again. We should kill the game off.

"I feel sometimes, when you put more defensive players on the pitch, you invite more pressure. And when you invite pressure you get what we got on Saturday. 

"I’m a very strong-minded manager. I’ll keep working the best way I can for the Ipswich fans to deliver results and success that sees them be happy."

Paul Cook talks to Mike Ashton, Ian Craney and Michael O'Leary after the draw at Cambridge United.

Paul Cook talks to chief executive Mark Ashton (centre), coach Ian Craney (left) and chairman Michael O'Leary (right) after the draw at Cambridge United. - Credit: Pagepix Ltd

Asked if he was now starting to look for some more consistency from his team, Cook replied: "We’ve lost one game in seven. So I don’t know what your level of consistency is? We’ve lost one game in seven games. 

"If you look at the previous seven games we played, we never won. We’ve now lost one in seven. 

"So if we can go through the next seven games and lose just one I’ll be absolutely delighted. 

"You can look for consistencies and inconsistences, I’ll just keep working hard as a manager."

Asked if he felt it was still unfair to look at the league table, Cook sarcastically replied: “No, because I think we’re about to see teams promoted after 12 games aren’t we? And I’m sure we’re going to see teams relegated after 12 games. 

"If people want to look at league tables, good luck!  

"I watch punditry, I watch every manager getting questioned and I feel sad the way the game’s going. I feel sad that people want to tell you the way your season is going to end after 12 games. 

"I can guarantee our supporters I don’t know where we are going to finish. But I know it’s going to be a hell of a lot higher than where we are today. 

"Analysis of games every week and substitutions every week becomes tedious for us managers, it really does. Especially when you’re working ever so hard behind the scenes to try and make it right. 

"You can look at the league position, our fans can. But if anybody in this neck of the country thinks we are happy with our league position at the moment they are deluded. 

"If we only lose one out of the next seven league games would our position be the present one? No! 

"So let’s all stop debating every week what we’re trying to do and where we’re trying to go. Can we promoted in October? Unless the EFL start changing the rules, I don’t think anybody can be promoted in October. Not even Wigan, Sunderland and Plymouth, who are flying. We’ll just keep doing our best to catch them."

Cook guided Portsmouth to a League Two title in 2016/17. On his latest return to Fratton Park, he said: "I’m just fully focussed on Ipswich Town. My time at Portsmouth has now passed. 

"Portsmouth have got their own issues that they’re going through and that’s for Danny and Nicky (Cowley) to sort out. 

"I just look forward to preparing the team for our next game."

He continued: "We all want to climb this league. You can’t climb it as quickly as you’d want sometimes. We’re all screaming and desperately want to get in the play-offs. 

"You get in the play-offs and then it’s ‘can you get in the top two?’ Unfortunately it’s not going to happen in a game or two. 

"What we’ve got to have is consistency. You’ll get consistency from me. The player will get consistent messages. I think Ipswich fans have been consistent, because they will have felt they’ve had to endure a bit of hardship over a little period of time. 

"As I keep saying, once the sun starts shining it doesn’t stop. We’ve got to make that happen. 

"Going back to Portsmouth is just the next game in my league campaign this year. Does it hold much for me? Not particularly. I just desperately want to win the game."

Portsmouth are 12th in the table, a point ahead of Ipswich, having won just one of their last 11 games in all competitions (strangely, a 4-0 home thrashing of Sunderland).

Asked if Danny Cowley would turn things around on the south coast, a frustrated Cook said: "Turn what around? He’s played 12 games! What do you want him to turn around? I really struggle with the way the media and the questions go. 

"I’ve got no opinion on Portsmouth and Danny and Nicky’s problems, issues or what they’re going through – that's their business. 

"My business is Ipswich and we’ve spoke about my problems so we can move on."

Christian Walton, Hayden Coulson, Tom Carroll and Jon Nolan have all missed games recently though injury, while Lee Evans (partner gave birth) and Joe Pigott (father died) weren't available at the weekend due to non-football reasons. 

Cook, as is always the case, refused to discuss the availability of any players as he wants to 'keep his cards close to his chest'.

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