O'Neill: Is Paul Cook the Next Town Manager? I Don't Have the Answer to That Question
Monday, 1st Mar 2021 15:01
Lee O’Neill said he “didn’t have the answer to that question” when asked whether Paul Cook would be the next manager of Town at a lunchtime press conference.
O’Neill, the Blues’ general manager of football operations was asked where the search for a new boss is, Paul Lambert having departed yesterday evening.
“That’s with Marcus, he’ll be doing his due diligence around looking at what is available and the people out there for the next manager of Ipswich Town Football Club,” he said.
Quizzed on whether Evans wants someone in quickly, perhaps in time for Saturday’s trip to Gillingham, he added: “I think he’ll go through his thoughts on that and speak to various different people.
“He’ll take the time that is necessary to look at who he wants to be the next manager of the football club and we’ll obviously work within that structure and until the person is appointed, Matt [Gill] and Bryan [Klug] will continue to run the day-to-day aspects. For example the game on Tuesday [at Accrington] and the following game on Saturday, if required.”
Has he has spoken to anyone about the vacancy? “I think he’s speaking to a number of people so, yes. That’s with Marcus at the moment and we hope that process is quick so we can obviously get the person in place and move forward, but he’ll take as much time as he needs to in that process.”
Has there already been interest? “I can only speak from my perspective, my phone has gone off quite a lot. As you can imagine, there are a lot of people that are interested in managing Ipswich Town Football Club. It’s a great club and it’s a big club, so there is generally a lot of interest in the role.”
O’Neill realises the significance of picking the right man given the Blues’ current situation: “I think it’s very important. The situation that we’ve been in over the last couple of years and the current situation we’re in in League One, we need to get ourselves out of it and back to the Championship as quickly as possible. The longer in here, the harder it is for everybody.”
But whoever comes in could have a chance of winning a quick promotion with the Blues eighth, two points off the play-offs 17 games to go.
“I think that feeling from everyone within the football club, it’s an opportunity for them to show what they can do under new management,” he said.
“We’ve got a lot of players out of contract at the end of this season. There are several things there that are catalysts along with the last two or three weeks in performances and some clean sheets.
“So hopefully that’s enough to get us going in the right direction to be in and around the top six. And look, you can’t rule out anything in this league, everybody’s beating everybody and there’s still over 50 points to play for.”
Asked directly whether the new manager is going to be Paul Cook, as is understood to be the case, O’Neill said: “I don’t have the answer to that question, that’s with Marcus Evans. We’ll have to wait and see.”
A Sky Sports journalist at the press conference said his organisation has been told Cook’s appointment is very close and asked O’Neill what he would comment on that.
“Just that you probably know more than me on that situation," he said.
“I know that Marcus Evans is driving the recruitment on that. As I said, Paul Cook’s name has been mentioned as with a number of other people.
“There are a lot of managers that are currently out of work at the moment, and there are a lot of managers that are in work doing very, very well. So that’s with Marcus Evans, and I’m sure he’ll speak to the relevant people he needs to in relation to that particular person.”
It’s been suggested that Cook will be in the stands at Accrington tomorrow but O’Neill says that’s news to him: “Obviously, people know more than me.”
TWTD revealed in January that Evans had spoken to Cook, who on Friday was said to be the US-backed consortium's target to take over at Town should they be successful.
Compensation would be due to Wigan's administrators should Cook end up at Town with his contract still having time to run when he resigned last summer
As previously reported, it's believed former Blues winger Gary Roberts, 36, could be part of his coaching staff, along with ex-Town forward Noel Hunt with regular members of his backroom team currently in jobs.
Leam Richardson, his assistant with Portsmouth and Wigan, is the interim manager of the Latics, while his first team coach while with the Lancastrians, Anthony Barry, is now assistant head coach at Chelsea.
“As I said, that situation’s with Marcus Evans. I’m sure he’ll counsel the people he needs to speak to in relation to who the manager is going to be at Ipswich Town Football Club. That’s where it is at the moment.”
He added: “If Paul Cook were that person, he has promotions on his CV, which are well publicised.
“Again, I don’t know Paul Cook, so I can’t comment on him individually, but he has done a good job at the clubs he’s been at.
“So I look at it from Ipswich’s point of view, whether it’s Paul Cook or any other manager, it’s a big club here, and it’s got to be someone that can come in and take the club forward from where it is now.”
Asked whether Evans might consider a foreign manager, O’Neill said: “A very good point. He’ll be looking at all different [options] and like I said speaking to a number of people as he goes through that process.
“Yes, there are options abroad, there are some very good managers that have come in from abroad and done very well in England and in the UK, so I’m sure it’s something he’s considering.”
A job for an experienced manager, not someone that’s just graduating from playing? I think there’s a lot of expectation from the football club’s point of view and the town’s point of view.
“We need somebody that knows what they’re doing, yes. But you can never rule out somebody that has fresh, new ideas.
“So again, that’s with Marcus Evans and I’m sure he will appoint the right person for the club going forward and hopefully that’s in the near future.”
Asked whether it is Evans who is appointing the new manager or a new owner, O’Neill said: “The situation around the new manager, that’s what we’re working on.”
Asked about the Rooney rule, which means EFL clubs have to interview at least one black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) candidate for a managerial vacancy, O’Neill said: “I think Marcus is aware of that situation and doing due diligence around what’s going on.
“Marcus is leading the recruitment on the new manager, and like I said before, he will be counselling on who he needs to speak to during that process.”
Photo: Action Images
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