|Fleetwood Town 2 v 0 Ipswich Town|
SkyBet League One
Tuesday, 16th March 2021 Kick-off 19:45
Cook: To Play For This Club, You Have to Carry a Little Bit More Weight on Your Shoulders
Tuesday, 16th Mar 2021 22:43
Boss Paul Cook admitted that his side had put in a “really poor performance” as they were beaten 2-0 at Fleetwood Town and says his players need to “carry a little bit more weight” on their shoulders.
Goals from ex-Town loanee Callum Connolly and Ged Garner saw the Cod Army to a deserved victory.
“The last thing the supporters need to hear is me coming on saying adjectives that can describe a really difficult night for us, a really poor performance,” Cook said. “I’m sure you can come on and you can say so many things when you play like that. To say we’re disappointed is an understatement. To say we’ve got to be better is a given.
“As I’ve just said to the players after the game, we have to be better. To play for this club, you have to carry a little bit more weight on your shoulders because every time you play against opposition, they are bang up for beating Ipswich Town in this league.
“Not different than the Sunderland lads have it probably, no different probably than the Pompey lads.
“And if you dip short on performance, you get beat. And we’re finding that out to our cost at the minute.”
Is that pressure weighing too heavily on the players’ shoulders? “No, you’re not going to drag me into comments that I don’t [want to make]. I just think tonight we got beaten fair and square, we were second best all over the pitch and sometimes you’ve got to take that as a manager.”
Asked why the display was so poor following Saturday’s home win against Plymouth and an impressive first 20 minutes against the Pilgrims, Cook said: “I think if you look at our consistency this season, it probably wasn’t a surprising performance.
“I think we’re quite consistently inconsistent, aren’t we? That’s something as a manager you don’t like. You want a level performance out of players.
“Conceding goals after six minutes away from home, in the three games I’ve watched, Accrington, Gillingham and Fleetwood, you give yourselves mountains to climb away from home.
“If you look back, it was probably only the Accrington sending off that saved us because that game took a very similar pattern to this.
“There’s so much work to be done, I really look forward to getting my teeth into the work. But, like I said to the players, I really am looking for lads that I can see signs of life in and trust, where you go ‘yeah, you can be part of a club and a team that takes us forward’.
“They’ve all got that opportunity at the minute and certainly one or two didn’t play like that tonight, that’s for sure.”
More work than he expected? “No, not at this football management game, if it was easy we’d all be doing it, wouldn’t we?
“We’ve got to stay with these players, that’s my plea to our supporters watching difficult nights like tonight. Managing’s tough because you really do get worked up inside and I can be quite hot-headed with the best of them.
“But on this run-in now, we don’t have time for negativity, we can only have positivity because we have an excellent chance of still achieving something that, albeit tonight as we drive home - and it will sink in with the players - it feels distant. But it’s not distant it really is within touching distance.”
So no need for harsh words? “Oh no, I wouldn’t say that, I think there are harsh words in dressing rooms, I just don’t think it’s the right thing to do in the press because I think the players, for whatever reason now, if you look back 18 months to the relegation, not going up last year for whatever reason, this season similar.
“Sometimes the players have probably heard negativity and conversations from Paul Hurst, Paul Lambert and Paul Cook because the reality is that’s what the performances have been offering up. We’ve got to change that as a group of people and a group of men.”
Cook dismissed the suggestion that injured pair James Norwood and Flynn Downes were missed.
“We didn’t miss them Saturday when we won, did we?” the Blues boss responded. “Flynn went off and James wasn’t there, but you always miss players and this is something we’ve got to get away from - the minute you lose a game now players who haven’t played become better players, and that’s not right.
“The lads who started tonight had earned that right. Cole Skuse came in who is an excellent player, has been an outstanding servant to the club.
“And because we have a disappointing night we can’t just look to say that people who weren’t here should have been here and should have been playing.
“The team that was picked tonight was comfortably good enough to win the game for Ipswich Town.”
Quizzed on whether Myles Kenlock, who was subbed in the second half, had a particularly tough evening. Cook said he could have replaced plenty of other players, as he could have done in the Blues’ previous away game.
“At Gillingham away, no different than tonight, I could have made four or five substitutions at half-time,” he said.
“But as well as trying to get promoted, I’m also trying to find out about the character and the players, and that can be tough for a manager because while you want to help them and make changes, sometimes it’s only in adversity you find out about people.
“We go through adversity one week and pleasure the next, if you like. And that’s not fair on the supporters, that’s not fair on everyone.”
Questioned on whether Norwood, who has been suffering from back spasms, has got a chance for the weekend, Cook joked: “You can’t ask me three questions about James Norwood, you’ve asked me two and now you want to get three in! I think the cleaners at the training ground have got a chance of playing on Saturday the way we played, so there you go, live with that one.”
Fleetwood boss Simon Grayson was delighted with his side's performance.
“I thought we were very good tonight, there were some really good elements to our game, we were positive, and we made a really quick start with and without the ball. We got in their faces and never allowed them to settle," he told his club's official website.
“They have some good players, who with time on the ball they can really hurt you, but we never allowed them to do that because when we had possession with the ball, we were very composed and used it really well.
“Our shape was really good, and we pressed them in certain areas, we dropped off when we needed to and we mixed up our game really well. Overall it was a really good collective performance.”
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