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Tuesday, 20th April 2021 Kick-off 19:00
Cook: Painful Nights Like These Hurt Me Deeply and I'm Sure They Hurt Our Supporters
Tuesday, 20th Apr 2021 21:52
Town boss Paul Cook admitted the Blues aren’t ready for the play-offs after a 3-0 defeat at Northampton realistically ended their hopes of a top-six place this season.
The defeat sees the Blues drop to 11th, five points off the play-offs with only four to play. They are without a win in five and a goal in 529 minutes of football.
Having lost 3-0 at AFC Wimbledon a week ago, manager Cook admits thoroughly disappointing Tuesday nights are becoming a habit.
“It’s just a normal one, isn’t it?” he said. “Again, there’ll be no criticism of the players from me now, we’re past all that.
“Our supporters don’t need to listen to me, what you’d consider an experienced manager coming in, I think that’s 12 games from me now. I’d have expected myself to do a lot better, irrespective of any player who has going on the pitch.
“The first level of criticism comes to me, to my staff. I don’t want the players getting any criticism. The fans have watched us for long enough now. The pain, the frustration’s been there for a period of time and eventually, after this season ends, hopefully they’ll see some signs in the club, whatever that looks like, of a positive future.”
Asked whether the players’ confidence is low as a result of the recent run, he said: “I just told the lads in there, you get one football career and sometimes when you play for clubs, the bigger clubs in every league, everyone raises their game to play you. That’s part of the good thing of playing for Ipswich, Portsmouth and Sunderland in this division.
“But it’s also a challenge because you become a big scalp and unfortunately for us, and I’m talking about under myself now, I’m not talking about under anyone else, it hasn’t been good enough. And I won’t be criticising the players tonight, I will shoulder that blame for them.”
When it was put to him that Town aren’t going to reach the play-offs this season, he conceded: “No, it’s not. We came away from home tonight and we started the game so, so well. We were bright, we looked effective. But, like I say to them, the first confidence [hit] or disappointment in games, we always get [affected by that] disappointment.
“As a young group of men, disappointment on the pitch is hard because, I’m talking about my time at Ipswich, no one else, you haven’t got many go-to moments where they’ve been in trouble and they’ve got out of it.
“You’ve gone and crossed the ball, we got in great areas tonight and our quality [was lacking]. But I’m not going to get drawn into aspects of the game.
“The plan for going forward is to be a lot better than we are today, and I’m talking about myself and the staff, I’m not talking about the players.”
What do you want to see from the final four games? “Play, just play. I thought we had a couple of great performances. I thought Andre Dozzell was excellent, I thought Gwion Edwards was as well. And that’s what we want to see as well.
“Again, I don’t want to tell you what’s going on in the dressing room, that’s not fair on the players that, but to manage clubs like ours, it’s a privilege, to play for the clubs it’s the same. But the supporters only want to hear that for so long.
“Unfortunately in transfer windows, you know what’s gone on in the last few weeks, it’s been a difficult time for everyone at the club.
“So let’s all, and from myself, let’s have a bit of manners and a bit of respect, let’s not make stupid, rash statements that people want to hear in football because I think as a sportsperson it’s got to hurt.
“And what you do is go away, let the hurt go to the bottom of your shoes and you do something about it.”
Quizzed on whether he might you look at one or two players over the course of the next few weeks who haven’t featured so far, Cook said: “I’m not going to speak like that. They’re painful these nights now, they really are. They hurt me deeply and I’m sure they hurt a lot of our supporters on iFollow and people who are passionately wanting us to make the play-offs.
“We’re not ready for the play-offs, are we? Let’s have the truth sometimes, the truth hurts a little bit.
“We’re going to be a club in massive transition now, and the quicker that transition starts the better.”
On Saturday Cook was pleased with the performance as Town drew 0-0 at Charlton but pointed out that a decent display has usually been followed by a disappointing one, and that proved to be the case.
“There’s not much to add,” he reflected. “Everyone watches everyone nowadays. If you watch us, you’d generally say we’re soft. Unfortunately that’s something I have to shoulder.
“If my team’s soft, if our team’s soft, that’s us. Ipswich Town Football Club’s a collective. When players go on the pitch they represent us all, I represent the town.
“And the fans know I’m hurting. The people who know me know me. People know me and my dressing rooms know I certainly won’t be throwing players under the bus, it’s not my style. What we’ve offered under me, I’m not talking about anyone else, hasn’t been good enough.”
Did Kane Vincent-Young’s miss early in the second half sum up the game? “I think Kane’s a really bright spark for us. The kid’s doing really well, it’s so pleasing to see. We want to have that athleticism in the team.
“At the end I’m thinking about taking him off because he’s played two games in a short space of time and I’m thinking about the bigger picture. But the bigger picture is you have to win football games and if you don’t win it hurts you deeply.
“As I say, I think we’ve said enough tonight in general, on the game. I thank everyone for the support, the support for the club’s constant, it’s there, so we’ve got to be better, myself included.”
Northampton manager Jon Brady was delighted with his side’s victory, which sees them stay 21st in the table.
“It was a good win," Brady told the Northampton Chronicle & Echo. "The two goals came from two set pieces and that was something we worked on in terms of trying to free up Pete [Kioso] in the box.
“The delivery was on point and he timed his arrival well and I thought it was a very strong performance in the first half.
“We stepped on when we needed to, we closed off lines and we got in a few times in the first half and we also had to weather a few little moments.
“We came out in the second half and we sunk too deep but that's the story of our season a little bit so we had to change our shape and that allowed us to press on a bit higher. I thought thereafter we looked a lot better and it was a good win for us.”
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