'I don't call it a big game' - Cook on Town's trip to Sunderland

Paul Cook with Chief Exec Mark Ashton before the game at Boundary Park.

Paul Cook has explained why he doesn't want to label the trip to Sunderland as a 'big game'. - Credit: Pagepix Ltd

Ipswich Town manager Paul Cook is reluctant to label tomorrow's match at Sunderland a 'big game'.

A crowd of more than 30,000 is set to watch two fallen giants in this League One match at the Stadium of Light, both clubs sitting just outside the play-off places a third of the way into the season.

When it was put to Cook that he won't have trouble motivating his players for such a big game, the Blues boss replied: "I don’t call it a ‘big game’ if I'm honest with you because that sort of mentality is how you win and lose games. 

“If you turn up at Accrington and Cheltenham and you don’t feel it’s a big game then you lose. If you turn up at Portsmouth and Wycombe and you think it’s a big game then you win. 

“The reality is, this is just a game. It’s a different type of game, of course it is. We’re going to the Stadium of Light, which is, without doubt, a Premier League stadium, and Sunderland are, without a shadow of a doubt, a Premier League club.  

“But the mentality and your attitude towards a game can’t change week to week." 

Following an eight-game winless start to the season, Ipswich have lost just two of their last 15 games in all competitions. Sunderland, by contrast, have seen their flying start (14 wins from 17) hit the rails with three successive league defeats and cup disappointments against fourth-tier sides Mansfield and Bradford.

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Cook said: “Sunderland have had a frighteningly good start, they’re having a tiny little blip at the minute and those blips go away quickly when you’ve got a quality manager in Lee (Johnson) and you’ve got quality players on the pitch. Those problems will self fix. 

“But we approach a very difficult game with great optimism. As our supporters know, there is no parking buses. We are going to take the game to Sunderland. Let’s see what it brings." 

After this weekend, the Blues host third-place Rotherham at Portman Road on Tuesday night.

“Ah, we’ll get six points, don’t you worry about that! We’ll be fine!" laughed Cook.

Sunderland manager Lee Johnson gestures on the touchline during the Sky Bet League One match at the

Sunderland made a flying start to the season under Lee Johnson, but have had some poor results recently. - Credit: PA

“Listen, I’ve got good relationships with both managers. They’ve both got very strong teams. 

“Rotherham will take care of itself when it comes around on Tuesday. It will probably be a totally different game to the Sunderland one on Saturday, but we’ll only really speak about the Sunderland one at the minute. It’s one hurdle at a time."

He added: “We're never happy. There’s no happiness around the club when you’re ninth in the league.  

“But like I keep telling everyone, the campaign is 46 matches, it’s not 17, 19, 23, 31... It’s 46. And until you get to that 46-game mark there is nothing handed out. We’ll just keep working our hardest to get to where we want to be."

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