|Gillingham 3 v 1 Ipswich Town|
SkyBet League One
Saturday, 6th March 2021 Kick-off 13:00
Cook: Gillingham Were the Better Side
Saturday, 6th Mar 2021 16:37
Boss Paul Cook admitted that Gillingham were the better team as they defeated Town 3-1 at the Priestfield Stadium in his first game in charge of the Blues.
“It was always going to be a difficult game, you’ll never leave Gillingham and you’ll never leave a Steve Evans team without having to earn the right to earn a football match,” he said.
“Unfortunately for us today, I felt Gillingham were the better side, I felt we were never in the ascendency, apart from the 10-minute spell maybe after we scored and equalised when we looked like we could go on and win the game.
“But then we obviously conceded the second goal, possibly against the run of play at that little moment. But for long spells, Gillingham were the more aggressive team, the better team, so it’s a really disappointing day for us.”
Were Town affected by tiredness given the number of games they’ve had to play recently, including long trips to Hull and Accrington? “No, it’s the same for Gillingham, it’s the same for all these teams.
“What happens sometimes now is we have an avenue to make excuses for losing. We weren’t good enough today, we conceded three really poor goals and when you do that away from home, the likelihood is you’ll get beat, and we did.”
Despite not being particularly good, the Blues had one or two chances, but Cook didn’t feel there was too much to take from the game.
“Yes, but I genuinely felt that we huffed and puffed, that’s the thing,” he said.
“You watched the game the same as me. It’s my first game, as you can imagine we haven’t had much time. It is what it is.
“You’re always looking for sparks and in a difficult game, I didn’t feel we had that many sparks. But the reality is that we’ve been on a really good run, so the sparks have been there.
“So what we must do is lick our wounds, accept it’s a bad day and at clubs sometimes when you have bad days, the likelihood is you hope your next bad day isn’t for a period of time. The most important thing is we bounce back on Tuesday night.”
Cook was named Town boss on Tuesday and took his first training session on Thursday. Reflecting on his time so far and what he’s learnt up to now, he added: “I’ve been in the building for two or three days, you’re learning all the time, that’s the good thing about this game for clubs like Ipswich in the league and the bigger clubs that have been in League One.
“The reality is that the clubs will go forward, whoever takes them forward is not really the main point, but the clubs will go forward one day because the structures of the clubs are too big.
“For us at Ipswich Town we know we’ve got to be better, we know we’ve got to get out of this league, and obviously today’s performance won’t see us do that.”
Asked whether 35-year-old skipper Luke Chambers, who broke into the club’s top 10 appearance-makers and scored the Blues’ goal, was a player he’d always rate, Cook said: “A lot of the time the reason why senior players keep playing is two-fold normally. One, because they’re good and two, they look after themselves in the correct and proper way.
“Certainly when you come across lads like Luke Chambers, Cole Skuse the same way, you’re talking about top level players, so that’s something that really can help the younger lads in the team.
“As I say, on games like today, I prefer to be quite brief. We all know what we can say about the game and the performance, which is not needed to be said. I think those things should be said in the dressing room.”
Sounds like the senior players will still have a role to play going forward, as much as people get excited about youngsters coming through? “Massively, absolutely massively. In over two years we’ve probably seen a really big turnaround of players, probably too many players coming in and out of the club in too quick a time.
“While I have to win games, and I accept I have to win games, my job is also to bring some sanity to the club.
“We have too many players. You can’t coach too many players, you can’t have too many players happy, so certainly going forwards, we’ll lick our wounds from today and we’ll look forward to the Lincoln game on Tuesday night.”
He felt the second goal was the game’s key moment with the Blues perhaps just starting to get on top.
“That’s the disappointing thing,” he said. “The third goal’s not irrelevant because it killed us off but the second goal was the goal that was going to decide the game.
“That moment was the first time in the game I probably thought we could go on and win. Up to that point I didn’t really feel that we were creating chances or looked like creating chances, and that seems to be a bit of a problem we’ve had all season. As I say, we lick our wounds, we get back, we work hard and we come back better.”
Kayden Jackson came back from his exile in the U23s from the bench in the second half and hit the bar.
“That was a positive, for sure,” he said. “Kayden’s got that electric pace that strikers of a certain level have, so we’ve got to make sure with the rest of the lads who were out of the squads and stuff that they feel that they’re going to get the chance, and when the chance comes it’s up to them to take it.”
Town are quickly back into action when Lincoln visit Portman Road on Tuesday: “Without a doubt, that’s the same for everyone, it’s Lincoln, Plymouth, Fleetwood, Pompey, there’s no respite for anyone and if you want to be successful you’ve got to win football games and we’re well aware of that.”
Might you freshen things up? “No, you love managers love getting these microphones pushed in front of them about 20 minutes after games. I’ve spoken enough nonsense in my lifetime.
“I’ll just keep myself to myself, we’ll speak with the staff and let’s get back to Ipswich and pick ourselves up.”
Asked about the ongoing process of learning about his players even when a result doesn’t go to plan, he added: “One of the problems you have in football is that we have is that we have a large squad and we have a lot of players being left back in Ipswich.
“And normally what happens when teams lose, the clamour is for change in the team and I’ve never been a big manager for change. As I say, it’s important we get back, we lick our wounds and we go again.”
Regarding Alan Judge missing out having suffered a family bereavement, he said: “Alan’s well aware of the support he gets from everyone at the football club, the supporters, the staff, the players, [owner] Marcus [Evans], [general manager of football operations] Lee [O’Neill], everybody.
“All our thoughts and wishes go to him in relation to what he’s going through, a very sad time, and we all hope he can come back at whatever point it is and give us a little lift.”
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