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Cook: League Success Unbelievably the Number One Priority
Friday, 30th Jul 2021 12:37

Town boss Paul Cook says he will play strong sides in cup competitions but not perhaps his strongest team with League One success “unbelievably” the number one priority.

The Blues have rarely made much progress in any cup competition in recent seasons with the various previous managers usually making wholesale changes.

“It’s always a very, very interesting one,” Cook said when asked how he will approach cup games. “I think if you look at the league campaigns now, we’re going to go into a 46-game campaign.

“Even when I took over at Portsmouth it was very interesting, we go into great detail about the travelling away from home, the journeys on a coach, the recovery time for games, the in-depth analysis into performances is huge.

“So from a manager’s point of view, this year we want to be promoted. There’s nothing else on our radar other than promotion.

“That’s top of the list. The FA Cup then is very much second in the list. Historically it’s a great competition to be in. As someone asked before, if we do get Liverpool [the club Cook supports], we will field a weakened team unfortunately, that’s life! But that’s just a one-off.

“I think as you fall, the Carabao Cup and the Papa John’s Trophy, I think you will see us make changes in those competitions due to the fact that we will prioritise the other competitions.

“If you look at the Newport game, for example, we will have a very strong team out against Newport, but it mightn’t be the strongest team.

“If we could get three points against Morecambe, three points at Burton and win at Cheltenham, for example, we’ll be top of the league, and we want to stay top of the league.

“The reality is league unbelievably number one, FA Cup number two, Carabao Cup and then Papa John’s Trophy.”

Reflecting on that competition, in which former boss Paul Lambert largely fielded U23s and U18s players last season, he added: “It’s just a really good debate. We got to the final when I was at Chesterfield, we lost to Peterborough 3-1 and we went on to go up that year.

“But we felt it really hindered our promotion push. We were postponing games to play games, we were fielding players.

“The reality is that if you could actually go and compete, then what a good day out at Wembley it is to win a football game. It was a great day at Wembley for me, but we lost. It actually felt with the squad it probably hindered us.

“The reality is that in those competitions we’ll probably see as we go, if we’re truthful. If there’s an opportunity to win games, we want to win football games. There’s no better habit in football than winning.

“I said to Mark [Ashton] after the game the other night that I was so pleased that we equalised at Colchester. We don’t want to be getting beat at Colchester under any circumstances, so as you say, there are opportunities for players through the academy and the U23s.

“A lot of our younger lads have been [promoted] to the first team too quickly. The reason for that is because the first team aren’t very good. Hopefully going forward those days will end.

“Our younger lads will aspire to be like the players in the first team. They’ll have role models they’re looking up to, not players that they’re better than. We’ve just got that balance wrong, but we’re in the process of correcting that now.”

Photo: Matchday Images

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ringwoodblue added 12:46 - Jul 30
Can’t disagree with this approach especially with us having a much smaller squad now. If we lost key players due to them getting injured in the Papa John’s Trophy and that adversely affected our promotion push, then Cook would get the blame.

buzbyblue added 12:48 - Jul 30
Totally agree with PC - would you rather get promotion or win the Carabao/Papajohns?

I know which camp I'm firmly in!!

arc added 13:11 - Jul 30
Those last lines about last year's first team are fascinating. Cook is just contemptuous of them, isn't he? The idea that poor quality at the top poisons the whole club is interesting: you'd think young players would see opportunities, but I can see that they might hate playing for the first team if it's full of poor players. It's tempting to speculate about who in particular he's referring to. I have some guesses :-)

Europablue added 13:40 - Jul 30
buzbyblue it's not even win the League Cup, it's having a run

BobbyBell added 13:56 - Jul 30
Commitment, honesty, fitness, discipline are all things that have been missing for so long. Those four things also bring self respect and pride. I believe this new era is starting out in the perfect way. I would also like to see fans in their seats 15 minutes prior to kick off and someone on the pitch to get them singing. In the Robson era we had to get there early for the standing areas and we amused ourselves by singing so by the time the game started we had a real atmosphere going. Now people get to their seats so late and the stadium is quiet. Maybe some local singers could go out 15 minutes before the start and rouse the crowd with some football songs?

mojo added 14:19 - Jul 30
It seems like every new manager we have had in recent years has been asked how they will treat the cup competitions. The league simply has to take priority as that is where the money is. It is a sad state of affairs but let's all be realistic about that. Wigan and Portsmouth winning the FA Cup in relative recent years hasn't done their league form any good has it.

buzbyblue added 14:20 - Jul 30
I know what you are saying Europa. going out 1st/2nd round to a low league oppo isn't ideal or nice one bit.

But I feel the same as ringwood in that going for a smaller quality over quantity squad doesn't leave alot of spare man power and I have all bits crossed about escaping this damn league this season

Cakeman added 14:21 - Jul 30
Whilst I understand and agree with our main aim of promotion I was hoping we would still field our strongest team in the FA Cup. A good cup run or attempt at it can only help with continuity of performance.
Resting the so called better players doesn’t always work. They can still get injured in training.
Not criticising the decision just disappointed that we are not treating the FA Cup as seriously as we could and more clubs are adopting the same behaviours. The once famous cup is a shadow of what it was.
I am not bothered about the other cup competitions but the FA Cup is very different.

Suffolkboy added 14:29 - Jul 30
I am already fed up with PC being openly dismissive ,apparently of each and every body associated with the’past ‘ first team and squad ;IT is the past ,we all know there were readily apparent deficiencies ( but not only on thr field !) .
It’s gone , let it be ,restrict future comments to the present and future attitudes and policies — leave ALL hints of bitterness behind ; enough is enough !
You are now our Manager , you appear rightly to have the fullest support behind you ; it seems everything is being done to ensure we / you have a new bunch of players ,of your choice to represent ITFC and our hopes !
SO eliminate the negative ,focus on the POSITIVE ; every good wish in doing just that ,and in bringing the success ITFC deserves again !

mojo added 14:30 - Jul 30
Cakeman - Reading between the lines on the below piece from the article, it doesn't sound like there will be many changes from the league team for the FA Cup.

“That’s top of the list. The FA Cup then is very much second in the list. Historically it’s a great competition to be in. As someone asked before, if we do get Liverpool [the club Coo supports], we will field a weakened team unfortunately, that’s life! But that’s just a one-off.

dirtydingusmagee added 14:35 - Jul 30

dirtydingusmagee added 14:49 - Jul 30
Suffolkboy im inclined to agree, he should not keep dragging it up. HE himself has yet to prove himself, and he wont have enough face for all the egg if he dosnt now, He just needs to concentrate on what he has before him, not on the mess that has been shipped out .Hopefully he will do a good job, time will tell, and the clock will start ticking soon .

fifeblue added 15:35 - Jul 30
Why is League One success “unbelievably” the number one priority ?

Unbelievably? Surely, it is f***ing obviously the number one priority!

Bluearmy_81 added 18:15 - Jul 30
Overwhelmingly the priority...

Carberry added 21:59 - Jul 30
Maybe he was being ironic?

bluesteel added 08:59 - Jul 31
how can you talk seriously about promotion with only 11 first team players in the squad?

cups? you haven't got an option but to play youth

bluesteel added 09:01 - Jul 31
how about winning a game?

WeWereZombies added 10:01 - Jul 31
What's this Coo in brackets? Was there a budgie in the room? Or have we got another Kuqi coup on the way?

DaGremloid added 10:03 - Jul 31
Sorry, totally disagree with this. As I've said before good cup performances provide consistency and confidence and this season more than any in recent times, all these new players need playing time to gel. I'm sick of people saying 'I'd rather be promoted than win a cup competition.' Well ignoring the cups has really worked for the past 15 or so seasons hasn't it???? We've still ended up with a big fat nothing!!!

Northstandveteran added 11:42 - Jul 31
I was about to say the exact same DeGremloid

As I posted last season, get out of cup competitions as soon as possible to secure mid table mediocrity.

A cup run might even bring a little excitement and optimism to us long suffering fans.

It might even put us back on the footballing map and remind football fans around the country that Ipswich town is still alive and kicking!

dirtydingusmagee added 12:45 - Jul 31
imo, not taking Cup comps seriously, is cheating fans, and not showing respect to sponsors,We should be striving to win and building a winning mentality, regardless. I used to look forward to Cup matches and the draws as they progressed, its been a long time since we have done that, and we gained absolutely nothing by treating it lightly and concentrating on the league, anyone doubting it should remind themselves where we are now if not old enough to remember the good times when we went out to win every time.Its part of the clubs history, something we can still boast about to the likes of the Carrot rd clan. WE SHOULD GIVE OUR BEST WHATEVER, COYB

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