Cook's First Town Press Conference - Part Two
Thursday, 4th Mar 2021 17:49
New manager Paul Cook held his first press conference this afternoon with TWTD present. Here's the second part of the transcript.
You talked about not being able to go to matches and stuff like that. How were you able to keep on top of football in general, not being able to scout games, not being able to do anything like that. How was it during the Covid period?
Probably like everyone else, with Sky Sports. I think we've all sat in our houses where your missus has said, 'Surely there's not another game on today, is there?’. I think we've all been there, haven't we?
Super Sunday becomes Super Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, so it is what it is.
I think for us all and the people out there that are suffering, football has given them a really, really good platform to keep going and stay strong, so hopefully, football can lead the way for them.
You’ve spoken about needing to be patient, waiting for the right opportunity, being allowed to manage how you wanted to, looking for the right long-term project. Do Ipswich tick all of the boxes for you?
Every single one. I think sometimes as a manager it's hard because one of the things you have to accept, and it was tough for me, is there are so many managers now going into jobs only until the end of the season.
And you have to look at what's going on in the world to appreciate that. It's been a really difficult time for everyone and sometimes maybe I had to look back and think I might be looking for something that doesn't exist.
Not everyone has had to have a reality check with what's gone on but certainly, when the Ipswich opportunity came around, speaking to the owner was something that I absolutely craved to do.
While I was Wigan manager, I didn't even know who the owners were. I never ever spoke to them. I never saw any danger signs coming.
I'm speaking to Marcus Evans and it was quite clear that his passion for Ipswich Town was very, very, very strong and he's desperate to take the club back to where we all want it to go.
So it was just aligned with me, certainly wanting to go back to the Championship as quickly as we possibly can, and we all know what a difficult league the Championship can be. So let's take the first steps first and try and get there and then see what we can hopefully do if that's achieved.
You’ve talked about it being a long-term project but Ipswich are unbeaten in five, are two points off of the play-offs following three straight wins. From day one, there's an expectation placed on you, isn't there?
Absolutely nothing to do with me all that, but you keep telling everyone I'm being involved, that'll do me lovely.
I think when you look at Ipswich and a couple of the clubs, certainly being in the play-offs is possibly what should be expected.
We're a big club in the league, of course we are, and we all have to take that pressure on board.
I think not being in the play-offs, there's a load of different reasons. We've had a load of injuries and there's been a lot of good players missing.
Paul Lambert had just got the club on a couple of wins on the bounce and they followed that up with Tuesday.
Fortunately for us all that situation was the situation, the rights and wrongs of that are not my concern and I certainly won't be delving into that.
Going forward now, we're coming into a team and a squad that, with a manager changing, is in a unique position of being in a good place, they are very confident, they are looking upwards and our job now as staff is to make sure we fuel that fire.
I think it was pretty public knowledge that there was a level of disillusionment from the fans towards Paul Lambert and towards the direction for the club. Do you have work to do to unite the fanbase and get everybody behind you?
It's not my job. I've got the utmost respect for all managers because I know what managing is like and I know what it brings, know how long it can be, I know how tough it can be.
So Paul's time at the club should certainly be remembered by everyone and wish Paul well because that's football and [former assistant boss] Stuart [Taylor] the same.
Because those guys committed to the club, they moved down to the area, they had two and a half years of their lives and for whatever reason that situation has changed.
It's now my time at the club to obviously do the best I can, but there's no promises of what we are going to do and when we are going to do it. The only promise will be how hard we work towards bringing people what they want.
What can you promise Ipswich fans? Front foot football? Brave football? That's what you brought to your sides previously.
Yes, hopefully. Again you've got to be careful because when you speak, sometimes it can be disrespectful to anything that's gone on. I think the thing about my teams as such, but it should be our team, is that I do have an identity and I have a clear style of play. It's very much what I believe in, and that will be evident from day one.
You can always see your hunger Paul and your appetite for the game. I've been in a couple of post-game dressing downs from you over the years. Are you looking forward to the tussle with these guys as well?
Managing Portsmouth comes with a health warning, that's for certain! Listen, one of the things as a manager, you go home, you sit down and you always realise how lucky you are to manage these clubs, whatever club it is you manage because there's so much responsibility comes with it.
I think if you've been out of work for eight months and you get a little bit older, I think you just appreciate it that little bit more.
What was your view was on Ipswich Town Football Club growing up? I guess you were a very young man when the glory years were at this football club. How have you seen Ipswich Town looking from the outside in?
Again just a fantastically good club. I think when you speak about football management and you come into it, we have a thing that the staff speak about called a football pyramid.
And within a football pyramid, everyone's got a place, haven't they? Obviously being a big Liverpool fan, we're number one and everyone can fight for everything else.
Within that obviously, you'll have seen with the teams that I've managed. Portsmouth, Wigan and Chesterfield, every team has a place in that pyramid.
Certainly for Ipswich Town fans, as we speak now, we are seventh in League One. That's not our place in the pyramid. My job is to make sure that I put us back to a place that we are all satisfied with.
What is that place?
Sixth in League One with a bit of luck! It's hard because one of the things that clubs and I think fans will appreciate is when you've watched great days, it's difficult to watch bad days.
And the manager and the players have to sort of respect that those days aren't here anymore.
But we're working towards hopefully bringing them back. The lads here are very committed. You only walk into the training ground to realise the facilities are amazing.
The football club is such a strong club in terms of Portman Road having always been one of the great stadiums to play football at.
You play at Portman Road under lights, for example, the atmosphere is great and a bit like what Upton Park used to be.
Those nights are good and they've always had a strong fanbase as well, Ipswich, who support the clubs through days like we have today where we really need supporters with us.
I know the iFollow stuff has been really high, the online buying of stuff and merchandise is high, and we really need that as a club because we want to be strong again soon.
Are there similarities with Portsmouth when you came in there, they were perhaps at a real low ebb?
It's a really good question isn't it, because football fans at probably 99 per cent of clubs believe that they are the 12th man. But sometimes, at some of football clubs, they aren't the 12th man, they are actually the 10th man.
It's like losing a man because they are that critical of the team on the pitch and the performance and sometimes football fans’ anger can come out in the wrong way.
I've been brought up as a football fan to support your team, to get behind your team, to have no negativity. The negativity used to come when we'd go for a pint after the game and we can slag everyone off then.
But for 90 minutes during a football game, a football fan’s job is to support and get behind his team.
I think that's difficult sometimes when your club has dropped a level and it's a logical thing.
But certainly going forward, Saturday afternoon is what we all love, going for a pint before the game, ‘What team has he picked?’, looking forward to the game and hopefully winning a few games and getting good cup runs and those exciting nights at the ground that we all love. I'm going to do my best to try and bring it back to Portman Road.
You praised the stadium and training facilities. Paul Lambert, just a few weeks ago, was talking about the structure of the club being wrong. I think that was a big part of his discussions with Marcus towards the end. Did you seek reassurances from Marcus with your chats with him? Do you see a club that's got an infrastructure here that can move forward?
I think the biggest thing speaking about Paul and what was discussed with Paul is that’s totally nothing to do with me and totally irrelevant. That circumstance has gone.
Certainly coming forward, I think all clubs should be forward-planning and we should be looking to be better tomorrow than we are today.
I've been here to for two days now, so I'm absolutely delighted with the facilities. I'm delighted with everything that's going on with the club.
You mentioned style and identity, and obviously, the club has a style and identity from the Bobby Robson era, the George Burley era, Gary played under Jim Magilton, who had a style of football as well. I've seen your teams. The two mesh together well, don't they?
I would hope so. I have to adapt to the players that are here first then going forward, when we recruit players, we can try and recruit players to adapt to the system.
Certainly what we want to see at the minute we want to get the best out of everyone we've got here. And we also want everyone at the club to feel that they're going to get an opportunity to shine.
I think that's really important. We've got a lot of players as we speak, a lot of contracted players, so we've got to make sure we see the best of them and then obviously what goes on in the summer depending on how we finish the season and what league we're in etc, we can sit down Marcus and me, and we can go through stuff then.
Having a big squad has got positives and negatives, I would imagine?
It's hard to keep everyone happy when footballers aren't playing football. You shouldn't be happy. If they are happy, there's something wrong. So that's something we're going to have to overcome.
And young players. there's a tradition at the club of bringing through young players, and the academy is a very big part of the club. Is that something that's apart of your philosophy as well?
Without a shadow of a doubt. There's a song that's been developed where someone is ‘one of their own’, and I think there is nothing for a football fan like seeing one of their own on a football pitch because it's something that we can all identify with.
So I'm no different than that. As a Liverpool fan, I love seeing Liverpool lads in our team because it should mean a bit more for you, shouldn't it?
At Accrington the other night, you seemed to sit on your hands for the first 20 minutes or so but couldn't resist involving yourself in telling the players what to do.
I promised everyone I would shut up and I didn't stick to my promise. It's difficult because you don't want mixed messages.
Matt Gill [who was caretaker-manager and is staying on on Cook’s staff] and [academy head of coaching and player development] Bryan [Klug] were doing great, and it was a tough night, a very cold night.
It was a difficult game, but I also know how important three points are and when you travel back. If you've got three points, they are invaluable when it comes to the end of the season.
And it's added to the platform to build on.
I’d have preferred us to get beat [it’s added to the pressure]! I think it's great for the support and it's great for Ipswich Town because the league table has changed very much in a week and it just shows you what a strong week can do for you.
Part one can be found here.
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