Cook's First Town Press Conference - Part One
Thursday, 4th Mar 2021 17:26
New manager Paul Cook held his first press conference this afternoon with TWTD present. Here's a full transcript of what he had to say in two parts.
Welcome, congrats on the new job, how have the first 48 hours been as Ipswich Town manager?
Hectic, very hectic, to say the least. Obviously we travelled back from the game at Accrington [on Tuesday night] which was great, especially off the back of a really solid win.
Then we got into the club yesterday to meet a few different people. [General manager of football operations] Lee [O’Neill], myself and Gary had a really good day at the club.
Obviously the players were off. We got to know some of the staff yesterday. Today’s been the first day [with them] and it’s been a really good day.
Unique circumstances, your first managerial appointment over Zoom, a quick turn around as well. When did you first speak to Marcus Evans and how did you feel when it was all confirmed?
I probably spoke to Marcus about two years ago telling him I wanted the job! I’m only kidding, I think the first conversation with Marcus was probably Sunday.
Looking back, we had a couple of conversations booked in over Zoom. Marcus then went away then and came back, I believe it was in the evening.
And obviously we were both speaking very similarly about what we were looking for from each other going forward, what we’d expect from each other and what we felt was achievable and I think from there everything everything happened very, very quickly. I’m very grateful to Marcus for giving me the opportunity.
And very chuffed when it was all signed.
Yes, but you can’t sign over Zoom though, can you!
How was your break from management, how have you missed it?
Horrendous, absolutely horrendous. My poor missus, Joanne, is absolutely in bits. She wanted me out ages ago.
I think it was difficult for me because of the circumstances of me being out of the work were different. I can’t thank Wigan Athletic enough for what they’ve done for me, as a player and obviously as a manager.
What went on for Wigan was so wrong, but that’s football and it’s so sad to see them in the position they’re in.
It’s great to see [caretaker-manager and Cook’s former assistant] Leam [Richardson] putting a team together now that’s giving them a fighting chance of staying in the league. I certainly wish them the very best of luck for the rest of the season.
But I’m not good at home, I’m genuinely not. You can’t go and watch football, you can’t go and watch your team play and you’re out of work, so you can imagine what I was like.
Must have meant a lot when Wigan tweeted their support a couple of days ago.
I will only ever speak about Wigan with the greatest esteem. So many good people up their lost jobs and stuff, that was not correct. It’s easy when you’re at a football club and you’re well paid and you’ve had a career within the game, but some people who love the club up there have lost jobs and it’s so tough.
Had there been interest from anywhere else? And what makes Ipswich the right fit for you.
Yes, as a manager one of the things when you’re out of work, you appreciate how many other managers are out of work, how many people are after jobs, it’s difficult.
I did turn down jobs for whatever reason in whatever division, purely because I had my mind set on something I wanted to do.
At the time, I wanted to stay in the Championship, I really did, it was something that I thought I was capable of, but the Ipswich job came around and speaking to Marcus, it was clearly obvious that Ipswich don’t want to be in League One. I particularly don’t want to be in League One, so we have a great opportunity to help each other now.
You’ve inherited a squad now coming into possibly its best form of the season, how have the players been during your first training session today?
As you can imagine, there’ll always bit a little bit of hesitancy and doubt from players with a new manager coming in. As I say, when there is change at football clubs, as happy as some people might be, there should be disappointment.
People losing their jobs in football is sad. It’s something that us managers how have to put up with in my opinion with far too much regularity.
So going forward the players will get used to me over a period of time. What we want to do, we just want them to be the best they can be.
At every club, the supporters will want to be proud of their team. As the players and manager of the club, that’s my job, to make them feel that.
Have you had much dialogue with the players, notably the senior players including captain Luke Chambers?
I’m trying to. Luke had a day off yesterday after after absolutely excelling on the pitch on Tuesday night, he was one of the best players on the pitch by far.
He had the day off yesterday and it’ll be a slow burn getting to speak to them one at a time, just [putting over] the expectations of myself and the rest of the staff and the club. Certainly then writing a pathway forward of what we believe could lead us to success.
Supporters will be keen to know where the land lies with Jon Nolan and Kayden Jackson, who have been training with the U23s and out of contention. A clean slate for them and everybody else?
Whenever managers go into clubs, there’s always clean slates for people because you don’t know what the previous relationships have been like, you don’t know the rights and wrongs of situations.
The reality for everybody going forward is that it’s a clean slate. Those two lads will be no different from that. Obviously I think the club will be announcing something possibly with Jon shortly, and for Kayden the same.
So, the brutal truth, the lads are back involved, the team’s winning, we’ve got some depth of squad, competition for places is huge.
Promotion is the immediate target this season, the kind of talk every supporter wants to hear and owner Marcus Evans isn’t ruling out the top two, so no pressure there. Just how big a challenge will it be?
To get in the top two will be a big one, tell Marcus! Listen, we’ve got to aim for the stars, we have to do that, it’s what’s football’s about.
As a young kid when you follow your team, you want to be in the FA Cup, you have a dream. Ipswich Town Football Club is probably similar to Sunderland and Portsmouth in the division, the supporters generally believe that they shouldn’t be in the league.
The target has to be automatic promotion at the minute. If that’s not mathematically possible or is difficult to do, we’ll be in the play-offs and will try and get in them.
Unfortunately if we don’t make the play-offs, it [won't be] because [we haven't] done our best.
A few words on your backroom staff, how excited is Gary Roberts to be back at Ipswich Town?
He’s had enough of me shouting at him on the pitch, so he’s coming to join me. Listen, Gary’s enthusiasm for football should be a given but unfortunately now in the modern world, the enthusiasm for the game isn’t there with certain people.
Certainly Gary’s coming on the staff and he’ll give that to me in abundance. It’s his first job in coaching.
Last time at Wigan we gave Anthony Barry his first job. Anthony is now first-team coach at Chelsea and has just taken a job with the FAI, with the national team, so these young coaches get opportunities and can go on and Gary will be a great addition to the coaching staff.
Matt Gill and Jimmy Walker are staying on, any more additions to your team?
Watch this space. As I said to Marcus, let’s get in. Leam Richardson’s been my assistant manager at every club.
But, what I did feel alongside speaking with Leam, the reality of revisiting that situation when Wigan are in a relegation fight, when we both have a massive affinity to Wigan Athletic Football Club, is that I didn’t think that would be correct and proper enough to visit that situation now. So maybe we might revisit that situation at a later date.
But going forward, I want everybody to feel that they’re going to get the correct opportunity to be part of the future success for the club.
Contract to the summer of 2023, did you seek any reassurances from Marcus Evans as to whether you’ll be working with him throughout that time, there is obviously strong talk of a takeover being close. It would only be fair for you to ask on that front.
My talks with Marcus were totally about football, about the future of Ipswich Town Football Club, what plans we’ve got going forward.
I’ve got total confidence in Marcus after speaking to him that whatever decisions he makes about other stuff will be for the benefit of the football club.
I trust Marcus totally with those decisions and I think Marcus is now trusting me to manage stuff on the football pitch. I think we’ll both stick to what we’re supposed to be doing.
Two big games coming up [Gillingham away on Saturday, Lincoln at home on Tuesday], Town having been unchanged for the last four. From what you’ve seen today, are the players ready to go again if needed? Is everyone fully fit?
Everyone’s focused, without a doubt. I think the three wins in a week have given everybody a big lift because in football, you know yourself, sometimes something can look so far away but if you win football games quickly and you put runs together, it can come a lot closer to you.
The lads, the staff, everyone has given us a great chance of getting to the play-offs. There are 16 games to go, we’ve got to try our best to achieve that. And while there’s still a chance of the top two, we’ve got to focus on that as well.
It’s such a shame there will be no fans for your first match and particularly your first home game on Tuesday, but what a moment that will be to look forward to, your first game with the fans at Portman Road and the place hopefully bouncing.
It’ll be a very proud moment for me. My dad, Chris, is not well at the moment and he’d be down here, he’d be very proud. It’s something that I’ll smile at and I’ll have a good smile for him.
What’s your message for supporters? There have been a lot of thumbs-ups for you on social media this week.
We haven’t lost yet! There’ll be no thumbs-ups for me then, will there? They’ll all have their teeth right into me then!
I can only promise fans that I’m going to do my best. If we can do that, myself, Gary, the staff, the players, we can only give our best every week. They can have the guarantee that that’s what we’ll be doing to try and bring success, not back to the club, every club has a football history, doesn’t it? You have highs and lows in the history of a club.
Supporting your club is the most important thing and we’ve got a very, very strong support base. My job is now to try and make them happy.
What is it that you want to bring from those previous experiences into this job with Ipswich?
Just the experience of your strength of mind because in all football jobs, managers have dark days and low days. They feel it when they suffer late defeats or you question yourself as a manager, you question your tactics, your formation.
Then the biggest thing is the strength of belief you get out of your players. The players are what make football managers good. I’ve been really lucky at previous clubs inheriting good players and adding to them good players that have made those clubs successful.
I’ve had a great time at Chesterfield, at Portsmouth and at Wigan and my whole future and commitment is to Ipswich Town.
We’ve got a lot of good players here and the most important thing is that we make use of them now.
Tell me about the process, it seems like such a quick turnaround. I know football isn’t quite what it was beforehand, people could shake hands, meet in person, but in terms of a conversation on Sunday to where you are today, that’s a very, very short turnaround. What was that hiring process like for you?
Again, I found it really difficult. When you speak about hiring and recruitment and picking up people. I think it’s important for clubs that the supporters want the people out there to get the best candidate for the job.
And I think that’s a fair point. But in football now, we’ve created an environment where managers apply for jobs and I’ve found that quite strange because I think clubs should be genuinely be putting a list together for managers while they’ve got a manager.
Clubs have to forward think. It’s football, we’re not all stupid people and I think clubs should then go after the people that they want.
As a manager, that’s something that I’ve learned previously, I genuinely won’t be applying for jobs ever. I don’t think it’s correct. I think clubs will find you.
Clubs found me before Ipswich Town wanted me but I didn’t feel it was the right fit. Certainly my conversations with Marcus, they were great, they were excellent, they were positive.
When you don’t know people, you don’t know them and obviously I’d heard a lot about Marcus Evans, and his passion for Ipswich Town just shone through and it was really, really refreshing for me to hear it.
You make an interesting point, there are so many conversations today about people having to apply for managerial positions, but you’re giving a completely different view, you believe that clubs should shortlist and go after the candidates that they want.
Football’s a tough industry now, there’s a lot of stuff that goes on that’s not correct, it’s not right, it’s not proper, but it’s football and we all know it goes on.
Certainly forward-thinking clubs are probably the best clubs. And it’s for the powers that be at the clubs to be forward thinking.
If you’re going to lose a manager, you’d roughly know a handful of people who you might want to speak to, you you might want to talk to. And obviously that’s down to the clubs and what they deem is correct and proper. That’s just my opinion on it.
Whenever there’s a managerial switch, there’s a degree of fire-fighting because you’re inheriting a squad that perhaps wasn’t ticking along as you’d want it to be. What sort of sense have you got about the squad now? Are you having to pick people up?
No, not at all, it’s been so refreshing for me coming in that there is such a vibrancy amongst the squad. The squad’s in a great place, from speaking to people that are already here and people who knew the squad.
There’s not much badness around it. Some of the squads that you can inherit, the dressing room mightn’t be the best place in the world or whatever you may decide as a manager. I’ve been very, very fortunate to come into a very, very good, functioning football club.
You had tremendous success at your last three clubs with promotions, what it is that makes you such an effective manager?
Tell me that in 16 games! Listen, one of the things around you is your staff, it’s your support staff, it’s people around you.
I’ve been very lucky, at all my clubs that my support staff has been very strong. Going forward at Ipswich I’m going to need all that help from everyone here. And together we might achieve something.
You’re coming into a club with a really proud history but there is a feeling that it’s just lost its way in recent years, how mindful of that are you? And how difficult is it to get the club back to some sort of position where fans feel it should be?
It’s always difficult because when I went to manage Portsmouth, the reality of Portsmouth’s situation through dropping into the leagues where they dropped, it was so tough on the supporters.
Portsmouth went from when Sol [Campbell] went up to win the FA Cup to playing League Two football and there’s a natural reaction from that.
Ipswich Town fans probably felt in the Championship that we need to go back to the Premier League because that’s a natural feeling, so when you go into League One, there’s more anger around the place, there’s more of a sense that we have to go back there quickly.
As a manager, you’ve got to make sure you try and get a message to supporters to be patient.
Now, we all know patient is not a word used in football anymore. We are not stupid people. But there’s no manager capable of changing something overnight. It takes hard work, especially on the training ground, it’s repetition for players, it’s confidence levels, there are a load of factors that come in.
And then over a period of time you can take clubs back where they belong, that’s for sure, you’ve only got to look at Leeds, Sheffield United, those types of club, Wolves.
They’ve all been in League One at some point but they’re all Premier League clubs today, so it certainly can be achieved.
There were rumours you were coming in, even before you signed, under new owners among all this takeover talks. Was that purely a coincidence?
No, I started them! I thought, I’m not getting a job, I better start something, hadn’t I? Again, it’s you guys and especially with social media and all the above, sometimes you actually read something, or one of my sons will tell me, and I think ‘Wow, I don’t know where that’s come from’.
But certainly, I think for managers, publicity like that is quite flattering and good, if the truth be known.
Touching on the successes at Portsmouth, Chesterfield and Wigan, what is the building block that you rely on in getting those teams as successful as they have been?
Certainly an identity as a team, a style of play, consistency in my team selection and consistency with my message to the players. And then the most important factor, working hard behind the scenes.
It’s hard in football because everyone will speak about fitness levels. You can only be as fit as your team can be. You can only work as hard as your team can.
But I can guarantee supporters that it’s nothing to do with anything that’s gone on at other clubs or those clubs, we’ll work very hard to get them to where we want to be and we’ll work very hard to make sure that what we do on a Saturday the players fully understand and we’re all committed to the same cause.
Having Gary Roberts working with you, a former Ipswich player, how beneficial is that for you?
I told him the only reason he’s come over with me is because the Ipswich fans like him. It’s a way in, isn’t it?
Gary’s played for me at three clubs now. Gary knows everything I want out of players. Footballers nowadays, some of them enjoy being footballers but they’re not prepared to give football their life. And if you want to be successful in football, you’ve got to sacrifice.
He’s had a great career, he only stopped playing for me at Wigan last year. He epitomises sometimes what I like about the game.
You don’t have to play well every week to be a good player. But you’ve got to want to want to play well, you’ve got to work to play well. I think Gary’s messages will be very, very similar to my own.”
Part two can be found here.
Please report offensive, libellous or inappropriate posts by using the links provided.
You need to login in order to post your comments
Blogs 278 bloggers
Here We Go by tractorboykent
For a club recently described as Britain’s unhappiest, it may seem odd that Town fans are suddenly awash with optimism now that the deal is done.
One of the Strongest Squads? by NormEmerges
I keep hearing that ITFC has one of the strongest squads in League One. It’s certainly true that we have one of the biggest squads, but strongest? I would assume ‘strongest’ to mean ‘includes higher quality players for this league’. What do the facts tell us?
Tractor Boy on a Mission by wadey
As some of you may be aware, we lost our little boy Tyler on 1st April 2012, aged just 15 months old. There was no cause declared and he just passed away in his sleep. Since then, I’ve tried to raise as much money for charity in memory of him.
Damned Lies and Football Statistics? by bluesman
Football is possibly the most observed sport of all time, and there is plenty of statistical information available in the public domain to make some informed observations about clubs and managers, and their performance over the years.
From Marcus's Side of the Fence by essexccc
Most of the thinking, including my own, around the possible sale of the club, has quite naturally focused on the possibilities from the club's and supporters' points of view.
Ipswich Town Polls
[ Vote here ]