Cook: Very, Very Exciting Times Ahead Under Fantastic New Owners
Monday, 12th Apr 2021 10:28
Boss Paul Cook admits that the Blues’ takeover came as a surprise to him last week but believes there are “very, very exciting times” ahead for Town under “fantastic new owners”.
Asked about the takeover which saw Marcus Evans, who appointed Cook only just over a month ago, step aside and the US pension fund-backed Gamechanger 20 group take charge, Cook said: “Listen, first of all, I’d like to wish Marcus every success in his future, whatever he decides to go into.
“I only spent a short time knowing Marcus and I believe he did a great job. I think he had so much commitment to Ipswich Town Football Club, something that I know a lot of our fans probably didn’t agree with, but I’ve seen sides of him and also the money that he’d invested in the club previously.
“I’ve seen what poor owners do to football clubs, so Marcus leaves with my best wishes and I wish him every success for the future, if he does go into football again or whatever he does.
“I think the new owners have come in, certainly Michael O’Leary, who I’ve spoken to on numerous occasions now, he’s a really good guy, he’s a good football person who is leading a lot of the stuff with the new ownership.
“I think it’s very, very exciting times for Ipswich. But as a person and a manager, I’m very much into the present and now. I’ve taken 10 points out of the fixtures that we’ve played, 10 points from nine games. We’ve only won two out of nine. We don’t score enough goals.
“I’ve got lists as long as the height of my door on my desk of problems on the pitch at the minute and we want to be promoted this year.
“I think the new owners are bringing so much optimism to the club and freshness. We want to compete at high levels in this football pyramid.
“Over a period of time I think we’ll get to see the new owners a lot more, we’ll get to hear from them a lot more and there are exciting times around the corner, which is great.
“But we’ve got some here-and-now issues that we want to address and as a football staff and a football group of people, we’re in a push for a promotion and we’ve got to stay with it.”
Quizzed on whether he knew the takeover was happening, whether it had come up in his discussions with Evans, he added: “I think guys I’ve got to be careful because you want to take me in to waters I just don’t want to go into.
“I can only be truthful, I was aware that Marcus was looking for investment into the football club and like everybody else, I think a deal was struck in the end where Marcus couldn’t have majority control of the club. I think the new American investors wanted that.
“A deal was struck and I was informed, like you lot, very late on in the proceedings. But I wish Marcus well, there’s absolutely no issue between Paul Cook, Marcus Evans, the new owners, anything going forward, other than total commitment to drive Ipswich Town Football Club back to where we belong.”
Cook not appearing at either his pre-match or post-game press conferences around the MK Dons game led to some fans fearing that the new boss wasn’t entirely enamoured with the new owners or perhaps some aspects of their plans. Asked whether is happy, he said: “I’m not happy because I watch a team team, who can’t score and doesn’t win enough. I’m very, very much far from happy, but apart from being unhappy with that, I’m quite happy.”
His reluctance to speak to the media following the game, was perhaps explained by Cook not wanting to speak negatively after disappointing performances during the run-in.
“The reality is that the games have taken on the same sort of pattern that I can only say negative things towards the players, and that’s something that I just don’t want to do,” he added.
New chairman O’Leary said at his press conference on Wednesday that as well as being top of Marcus’s list when it came to appointing a boss, he also headed the incoming group’s, although contrary to some reports they weren’t involved in his selection.
“When you’re a manager today, you know criticism comes very, very quickly,” Cook said. “As a manager, like I tell the players, the team reflects the manager.
“At the minute, our team doesn’t reflect me and it doesn’t reflect our football club. Going forward, that will change.”
The new owners have made it clear that they plan to back Cook in the summer financially with fans excited as a result.
“You can ask me another 46 questions about the new owners, you’re not going to take me anywhere else!” Cook laughed.
“We’ve got a great game tomorrow night at Wimbledon. If that was with terraces open, how many fans would be travelling from Ipswich to support their team?
“There’s enough negativity in the world to last everybody two lifetimes. But us we’ve got a job to do tomorrow night to try to win a game that can drive us forward and we’ve got to stay with that.”
Questioned about his first thoughts on hearing the news of the takeover news and how it must have been reassuring to have O’Leary tell him he was the man for them at their first meeting, he said: “First thing I thought was ‘thank God for that!’ because I’m in trouble if I wasn’t, wasn’t I? Like everyone else, the takeover took me by total surprise.
“I was turning up at Portman Road like everyone else, Lee O’Neill, for a meeting with Marcus. What we’d spoken about was that we’d had big plans for the off-season, implementing the changes that Marcus was about to take on at Ipswich Town Football Club.
“I got told like everyone else and I can only reiterate that my initial meetings with Michael O’Leary have been 100 per cent positive. Michael is a gentleman. Once you meet Michael yourselves, you’ll work that out quite quickly, he’s a good guy.
“Going forward, I’ve been in and around football long enough to know the rules, lads, I’m not a stupid person, I know exactly what goes on in football. If the new ownership are happy with me and that’s the way we’re going to go forward, I only want to be here, guys, I’ve got to tell everyone that.
“I joined a plan that I knew would be difficult, I knew there would be a lot of change within the club, I knew going forward the ambitions we all had.
“I feel the new owners have come in and they’ve probably added to those ambitions. If I can be part of that, if I can help with that success, then I’ll be one of the happiest people around here. But that is all for tomorrow, we must leave that for tomorrow.”
He says he’s yet to speak to any of the Three Lions part of Gamechanger, Phoenix Rising owners Brett Johnson, Berke Bakay and Mark Detmer.
“No, very much Mike,” he said. “As you can imagine, a lot happened quickly last week. Over a period of time I’m sure we’ll get to hear and see a lot from the new owners who have got a real strong pedigree in football and sport.
“I think when you look to that, with the greatest respect to ownerships today, when you look at the pedigree they have in this industry, it makes me quite excited, I’ve got to tell you that.
“But I’m also knowing that my job can be a perilous position, in any other club, in Ipswich Town. But my big concern, and I’ve got to highlight this, is that the future of this club looks to be in very, very good hands, and that’s a great day for everyone connected with it.”
The situation appears a stark contrast to his time at Wigan where he has admitted not seeing danger signs having not met the Latics’ new owners.
“I’m a football person, you know my background, you know what my CV is, what I do,” Cook continued. “The reality is that my big decision when I’d left Wigan was to work with owners that I trusted, that was a huge thing for me.
“In Marcus and Lee O’Neill it was quickly evident that I did trust those people. Going forward now, having met Michael, having heard about the plans, my trust with them will only grow over time. I’m not going to be sitting here saying I trust these lads because they’ve got to work with me, I’ve got to work with them, but I’ve been led to believe the relationship will be a good one, a strong one.
“My job then will hopefully be to deliver the success that the owners crave, that the supporters crave, and everyone craves, including myself. That will be a great day for me, if that’s the case.”
At the present time, Cook seems to effectively have two jobs on his hands, the next seven games in which the target is winning a place in the play-offs, and then the Blues new era in the summer, whichever division they might find themselves in.
“What we’ve offered up for a period of time, including the performances under me, they’re not good enough for Ipswich Town, it’s just not,” he admitted.
“We can’t keep saying it every week, can we? There’s no point. We’ll all just get ourselves into a pickle. The reality is that we’ve got seven games and if we can get positive energy from the press and the social media guys, the reality is that we’ve got fantastic new owners coming in.
“The future for our club looks bright. But the future for this team is the next seven games and I’d love you to be able to help us with that.”
Photo: Matchday Images
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