Cook: To Go Away From Home and Win Was Important
Saturday, 1st May 2021 18:19
Boss Paul Cook felt it was important for the Blues to record their first away victory under his management away at Swindon, despite the result ultimately meaning nothing.
James Norwood scored twice, one a penalty, and later missed a second spot-kick, while ex-Blues frontman Brett Pitman netted for the home side. While Swindon are already relegated, Town have no chance of making the play-offs.
“You know yourselves, it’s going to be a difficult couple of games finishing off,” Cook said. “But to come away from home and win was important because you get criticisms levelled at you, the staff, myself, the players, and it hurts, it does hurt.
“Whatever we’ve offered up over the period, my period and the previous periods under other managers, it hasn’t been good enough for this football club, and I include myself in that.
“Going forward it will change. Whether it changes and we go and do great, that remains to be seen, but it certainly will change, that’s for sure.”
Town’s goal drought finally ended at 663 minutes, Cook having joked that he’d celebrate by taking his top off when the Blues finally found the net.
He didn’t go through with his promise, although someone in the dugout appeared to start to do so after Norwood’s 44th-minute penalty hit the net.
“It wasn’t me that for sure, if I’d have got my belly out, I’d been in trouble, wouldn’t I?” Cook joked.
“I was just pleased for the lads because this group of people now, they have been burdened for too long.
“Like I told them before the game, in a week’s time, all those burdens and shackles will come away from everyone. I’ll make everyone happy at the club.
“People who don’t want to be in Ipswich Town’s dressing room will not stay another day at the football club. We just want a team focused and desiring and aspiring to make us a better football club.”
Town had plenty of opportunities over the course of the game and could well have won very convincingly.
“I told Kane Vincent-Young, I’ve never seen anyone miss chances like him, by the way, he can miss them from three yards! How can he?” the Blues manager laughed.
“But it’s just pleasing because when you create chances you’re OK with what comes. It’s when we haven’t been creating them we’ve looked lacklustre.
“Today at times we’ve flirted into some really good situations where we played well and we opened Swindon up and that was great to see.
“The confidence should have been there to go on to win the game more comfortably, but unfortunately we let a poor goal in from our point of view which gave Swindon a little bit of energy.
“Credit to Tommy Wright and Swindon, when you’ve been relegated it’s tough to get motivated and stuff, and I felt they represented their club with real credit today, they kept going until the final whistle, and we’re pleased to get a win on the road.”
Norwood took his goals tally to nine in what’s been an injury-hit campaign for the ex-Tranmere man. Might it have been a different story for Town had he stayed fit?
“James needs supply,” Cook responded. “Even if you watched our youth team last night, the crosses and the penetration was coming from all angles. We haven’t had that.
“I can only speak under my time, the lack of creativity in the team has been a disappointment. I’m not levelling any criticism at the players but they should be… [heckling from U23s coach Kieron Dyer about the number of chances created today]. He was going to play soon, Kieron Dyer, the way he’s going, he’s nearly getting a start, him and Gary Roberts!
“But there’s no criticism now for the players, the next week or two will bring a lot of decisions and changes for our supporters and we want to look towards next season with real optimism with Mark Ashton coming in, our new owners coming in and we want the club to be really about the place.
“Let’s finish the season with as much pride as we can, let’s try and stay unbeaten, whatever that may bring, it brings, and then let’s look forward to a summer and a season next year where we can make the team hopefully represent the club in a better way probably than we’ve done over the last three years.”
Having ended a six-game run without a victory, he added: “Winning’s everything, winning in football is huge and you’ve got to want to win. You’ve got to create moments to win and you’ve got to take chances when they come.
“Again, for our flair players, and I keep giving them the same messages, managers want to trust players, but to trust a player he’s got to deliver stuff. And if you want to play for big clubs nowadays, the reality you must either create and score goals in flair positions or have defensive solidity. And that’s something that you’ve got to get right at both ends of the pitch.”
Was today’s display a taste of what fans can expect from his team in the future? “In my career I’ve sometimes been criticised for not having a Plan B and I’ve always thought that if you’re very good at Plan A, why should you change it?
“And it’s something I clamour to create, for us going forward the demands on the players will be big. Fitness is huge, quality when you get in areas, crosses in the box.
“It’s like a big jigsaw football and if you put all the jigsaw pieces together correctly, you’ll have a good team.
“I was pleased for the players today to win. It was nice for them to get a win, especially when we know the season’s done. But I think everyone knows, the future’s the most important thing now.”
When chances went begging prior to the penalty did he think it was going to be one of those afternoons? “Not really because you can’t be hurt as a manager. You get to situations where there’s an acceptance, and I’ve accepted what’s going on at Ipswich Town now.
“The acceptance from me that it’s my job and Mark Ashton’s job and our American owners’ job going forward now to change the club for the better.
“And that’s not a criticism of anything that’s gone on before. When you’re around football, we know Ipswich Town’s place in the football pyramid is not 10th or 11th in League One and our job now, we have an obligation to make those supporters happy and proud of the team.
“Through this summer, there’ll be no days off and big holidays for people, we will just work and work and work in pursuit of that success.”
Swindin caretaker-boss Tommy Wright was pleased that his team never gave up.
“I’ll take out of that game that we kept going until the end,” he told the Swindon Advertiser. “The substitutes that came on made a bit of a difference too.
“I thought we started quite well and we had a couple of chances, they did as well.
“I always thought they were the better team, but I wanted a response from last weekend [when the Robins lost 5-0 at the MK Dons].
“I wanted a bit of fight and I thought we got that even though we gave two horrendous goals away again.
“That has been a problem all season and when you keep giving bad goals away like that it’s so deflating for everybody else.”
Reflecting on the two goals, Wright added: “I don’t know what [Scott] Twine is doing [for the second goal], he needs to play forward.
“And the first goal, it’s a poor tackle from [Jonathan] Grounds. I don’t know what he’s doing and it’s a definite penalty.
“I took Grounds off at half-time because I thought he was struggling against James Norwood. You didn’t have to be Pep Guardiola to see that.
“Norwood was bullying him, so I thought I’d put Tom Broadbent on who is a bit bigger and a bit stronger and I thought he did quite well.
“He dealt with Norwood quite well and we won more first headers than we did in the first half, which helped.”
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