Skuse: New Boss Has Been Brilliant
Tuesday, 16th Mar 2021 13:00
Town midfielder Cole Skuse says new boss Paul Cook has been “brilliant” since arriving earlier this month to succeed the departed Paul Lambert and become the 18th full-time manager in the club’s history.
Cook has overseen three games in that time – the defeat at Gillingham, the home draw with Lincoln and Saturday’s 1-0 defeat of Plymouth at Portman Road that gave him his first win in charge.
Asked about his first impressions, Skuse said: “He’s definitely a character in football and he’s been brilliant since he came in. He’s given the group a real spark and a bit of oomph, plus he’s on the go from start to finish.
“He likes his cups of tea and coffee, so I think that’s the fuel. He’s had the older players in for a few chats, picking our brains as much as we picked his, and overall he’s just been brilliant.”
When the conversation turned to the final few weeks of Lambert’s tenure, during which it became increasingly apparent that the Scot’s time was coming to an end, Skuse added: “I wouldn’t say it had become uncomfortable and I can only speak from my own personal experience with him and [assistant manager] Stuart Taylor.
“They were both good for me throughout my injury period, getting me in to interact with the group as often as possible.
“As a group of players we hear and see as much as you guys [the media] so you hear rumours of unrest but there was no rift from the dressing room up – that wasn’t the case at all. The club decided to make the change they did and that was that.”
The change of manager has seen exiled pair Jon Nolan and Kayden Jackson, who were disciplined by Lambert and forced to join the club’s younger players in training, return to the first team squad. While Nolan is unlikely to feature again this season because of a recent injury, Jackson is very much a part of Cook’s plans going forward.
Skuse added: “It’s great to have Jon and Kayden back with the group and I think it is thoroughly deserved. They are both fantastic players and good guys. Managers are put in a position to manage and make decisions they want to make, and as players we have to get on with it and deal with it. But to have Jon and Kayden back with us is fantastic for us all.”
Asked how he had coped with being out of football action for more than a year before returning as a substitute at the weekend, Skuse replied: “It has been really painful and it has been the same for my family as well to be honest. I think my wife would vouch for that.
“Footballers are creatures of habit and so used to their routines, building up to the weekends because that’s your time to go out, play and try to stamp yourself on games.
“It has been really tough and even the dog is sick of walks on Saturdays and Tuesday evenings. I had the break at the tail end of last season and some pre-season games but you can’t compare them to competitive games. To miss such a huge chunk of this season has been really, really tough.
“The lads at the club – everyone from Chambo down to the young ones – have been absolutely fantastic and supportive.
“So have the staff, every single one of them, and so have my family, so that has helped. We’ve also had the home schooling to contend with and I struggled massively with that, as my kids would confirm.
“I have three children, including a little diddy one – she’s only two and a half – and a boy who’s five and a girl who’s nine. My home-school bracket was five years and down – even the eight and nine-year-old stuff was far too complex for me.
“My specialist subject was probably colouring and trying to stay inside the lines. I’m very lucky and blessed with the fact that my wife was previously a teacher, so she was able to help with my oldest daughter’s lessons.”
Skuse was asked what he missed most about being injured and he continued: “The long, long, long bus trips. You miss elements of them, not all of it if I’m honest, because they are so very long. Straight after the operation, again due to Covid, it wasn’t as simple as just going in every day, mixing with the boys and hanging around with them.
“It was more about making sure your Covid tests were done before you could get into the training ground. At the time the lads were reporting for training in their gear and shooting straight off afterwards, so I wasn’t able to go in and have a chat over breakfast or a cup of coffee.
“I couldn’t even watch them train and then have a chat afterwards because they had to get in their cars and go home without hanging around. That was tough but I was forever in contact with them, going in when I could.
“Paul Lambert and the staff were brilliant, telling me to come in when I could and watch sessions. I even helped with some sessions.
“Once I knew I was close to getting back on the grass and doing a bit of rehab, it was a blessing and couldn’t come quickly enough.”
Skuse worked on his rehabilitation alongside other long-term injury victims, including Kane Vincent-Young, who has not played since October 2019, and young striker Ben Morris, who sustained a second cruciate ligament injury in August.
“I’ve had about five months and it has been really, really tough for me. Physically and mentally, I struggled to be honest,” Skuse admitted. “I’ve spent quite a bit of time in the gym, getting back to fitness with Kane, Ben, Oli Hawkins and James Wilson, who is back now.
“Kane has had setback after setback and they’ve not been preventable in the slightest, it’s just the way it has happened, while Ben came back for pre-season only to suffer the same injury all over again. It has been heartbreaking, it really has.
“I’ve tried my utmost as a person to get around them and speak to them as much as I can to try to lift them in any way, shape or form and offer support.
“It really is tough. People on the outside don’t see that side of things. I know you read certain things about how long players are going to be out for but having seen them, the lads like Kane and Ben, on a daily basis and seen what they are going through, I have nothing but total respect for them. They have kept their heads down and hopefully we’ll see them back soon.”
Photo: Matchday Images
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