Cook: Can We Win Automatic Promotion? Why Not?
Friday, 6th Aug 2021 11:40
Town boss Paul Cook insists that the Blues can win automatic promotion from league One this season despite so much change having taken place over the summer.
The Blues have made 10 signings with Aston Villa youngster Louie Barry, who is set to join on loan, and Portsmouth’s Michael Jacobs set to become additions 11 and 12.
Asked whether Town have a realistic chance of going up automatically given the number of changes, Cook hit back: “One hundred per cent! Why not? I look back at my time at Portsmouth, for example, when the surgery was probably very similar. In the first year we lost in the play-offs at Plymouth away, the second year we won the league.
“If you look at a club, progressing and going forward is good. Every transfer window as a football club you should be getting stronger.
“After three, four, five windows, I think we’ll be in a place where everyone wants to be and we’ll be a strong team.
“And if that’s not the case then I know the rules of football, I will shake everyone’s hand and we will wish everyone in this town and this football club all the best for the future because it’s a fantastic football club.”
Cook was reminded that Blackpool had a “torrid” start to last season before going on to win promotion via the play-offs.
“We don’t want a torrid time do we?” Cook laughed. “I’m sure [Seasiders manager] Neil [Critchley]’s sitting now looking at the fixtures tomorrow in the Championship thinking that that wasn’t a torrid time, it was a learning time.
“That’s your learning time. Blackpool had so many numbers changing, not dissimilar to ourselves.
“Cultures at football clubs aren’t changed overnight, they’re just not. They’re not set in stone where you can read off the back of a book.
“My big thing about our club is a happy environment to work to get better, and we’ll stick to that mantra.”
While there may be concerns about the side gelling, Cook was quizzed on whether he is confident no other club will outrun his players in the season ahead.
“Again I don’t have concern what other clubs do,” he responded. “I’m not one of those managers and you’ll never hear me speak about the opposition or in a disrespectful way or money that got spent or anything else.
“I think if you look at the league this year, you’ve got Accrington under John Coleman, for example, who continually defy and outweigh every possibility of what they can achieve, who go into the season and can’t wait to beat teams like Ipswich, Sunderland, Sheff Wed.
“All through the league, there’s David and Goliath games and there’s different managers, Doncaster with Richie Wellens, MK Dons new manager, Darren Moore first time at Sheff Wed, Danny Cowley is in at Portsmouth.
“The coaching levels in the league is so strong now, teams are so well organised, so tactically aware of what the opposition is going to do, and my big one is that it comes down to the players.
“I’m absolutely delighted with the players that we’ve recruited, and I know we’re going to carry on. I know we’re going to bring more in.
“And as a manager and coach, you concentrate on your own players. You concentrate on us getting it right, on us being the best we can be.”
“And that’s why I don’t speak about the opposition. Sorry [Owls manager] Darren [Moore], I don’t want to speak about you. I’m not jealous, I’m not in any way antagonised with what other clubs do.
“Sheff Wed is a fantastic club, a big club and that’s exactly how big clubs act, they go and sign good players.
“The challenges are there for us all, the challenges are ahead of us and every time a team takes to the pitch against Ipswich Town, they will desperately want to beat us, and no more so than Morecambe tomorrow at three o’clock.”
“We’ll still be looking for more to come in and we’ll probably be going to the window still looking for players.
“So if anyone thinks we can just hit the ground running and everything will be perfect, then they are just fools.
“How quick can we get players gelled? How quick can the partnerships on the pitch grow? how quick will George Edmundson be back in the team? How quickly will a new signing integrate into the team?
“They are the challenges for myself and all the staff at the club.The supporters are to go into the season with all the optimism that’s around the town, it’s fantastic and the feel-good factor around here is amazing at the minute, and that should only be harnessed.
“No one is going to pour cold water on that. We set out as one of the favourites this year, and we want to stand out of that pack.”
What are the key ingredients when it comes to getting out of League One? “Good players, good players, 100 per cent good players. Good players with good character, good players with a fanbase supporting them all the way up.
“We’ll have down days, everyone knows that, you’ve only got to look at the England players, for example, you can go from hero to villain in a heartbeat.
“My job and the staff’s job here is to keep our players consistent, absolutely consistent. Confidence in football is key. Confidence in sport, confidence in life is probably key.
“When you go out at Portman Road tomorrow you’ve got to feel that 20-plus thousand people are there and they’re all behind us and they’re all willing us to success. That’s the energy that we need to feel.”
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