|Ipswich Town 2 v 2 MK Dons|
SkyBet League One
Saturday, 21st August 2021 Kick-off 15:00
Cook: Soft Goals Are Hurting Us
Saturday, 21st Aug 2021 18:29
Town boss Paul Cook admitted giving soft goals away is hurting his side following the 2-2 home draw with MK Dons.
Macauley Bonne gave the Blues the lead twice only for Town, who are still without a win, to allow the visitors to equalise on each occasion.
“It was never going to be a 0-0,” Cook reflected. “I think when you’ve got two teams intent on taking the game to each other and scoring goals, you get the spectacle that everyone watched today, which in my opinion was a fantastic game of football.
“Obviously from our point of view, having taken the lead twice, you’ll always be disappointed, especially with the manner of the goals we’re giving away. You don’t need me to go into it to say we’re giving away soft goals.
“We really, really are at the minute and it’s hurting us. It’s affecting us getting results and it’s something that we’ve got to rectify quickly.”
He added: “I enjoyed the game, I’ve got to say that first and foremost. I’m so disappointed not to get a result. You feel the ‘wanting’ of the crowd and the stadium for us to win games.
“We score an amazingly good first goal, it’s a fantastically good first goal. I’ll never criticise players, it’s not my style, I’ll always speak honestly in dressing rooms, we have to score really good goals at the minute and unfortunately we’re giving teams soft goals.
“As the four games have transpired now, the goals against columns too much, you can’t win games when you concede like we do and we’ve got to stop that quickly.
“A lot of the goals are individual mistakes, they’re a little bit of sloppiness, the tiredness in our tackling, giving away stupid free-kicks, and certainly in the latter case giving possession away in an area of the pitch where we just can’t give possession away.
“And that’s something that you’ve got to learn and we all know at these clubs you’ve got to learn quickly.”
What can he do about stopping the soft goals? “It’s great as a manager sometimes because you stand there and when Macauley puts it in you’re great and when Lee [Evans] gives the ball away you haven’t got a clue. It’s football and I’ve been in it long enough to know the rules.
“We’re very much a work-in-progress, as you can see. We show some really good signs, we’re really good with some of the intent in our attacking play and our quality’s good, but defensively and that aggression in that side of the game is where we need to improve, and that’s something we’ll try and do.”
Cook says it’s unrealistic to expect the players who came in over the summer to gel into a team immediately.
“You know me, I’ve been here for five or six months, I don’t get in the clamour of the football world where everything’s got to happen overnight, I just don’t,” he said.
“I said to one of our supporters coming off the pitch who was giving us a little bit of stick, give these lads time. They’re making mistakes, they are making mistakes, there’s no getting away from that, they’re making mistakes at crucial times.
“But they’re a brand new team, they’re a brand spanking new team with lads making their debut again today. And while we’re not appealing for time meaning [a] ridiculous [amount], we know we have to improve, we know we have to win football games, we know we have to stop giving stupid goals away that will allow us to win the games.”
But he felt his team did enough to claim all three points today: “I think we created enough chances to win the game, didn’t we? I think whether you like it or not MK Dons will be pleasing on the eye at times, 100 per cent, they can test you, they move the ball really well, they’re a very well-drilled and coached team.
“But we had big chances in the game and when you get those big chances, you have to take them, you can put the game to bed and we didn’t do that today.
“Macauley’s done great. I think after the win this week where apart from one of the mad radio stations in outer Scotland, I think every man and his dog has reported on it.
“For a lad like Macauley to be as passionate as he is about the club, his hometown and score the two goals today, which were absolutely fantastic finishes, that he should be going home as a winner and unfortunately through our naivety and everything else, we’re going home licking our wounds again.”
He added: “I’ve been around football for a period of time, I’ve managed other clubs, I understand what goes on in punditry, in your line of work, your headlines you make, and I understand my line of work.
“I’m always a manager who just works hard on the training ground. I genuinely believe that fitness has to be very, very strong, that your desire to win games has to be strong and then your aggression in your play has to be strong.
“I felt we were in the ascendency after MK Dons had had a good spell. I thought the introduction of Tom Carroll calmed us down completely, it brought a bit more balance to the midfield area where we were getting a little bit overrun and we scored a fantastic goal and unfortunately from there we should go on and see the game out.
“But our inexperience/decision-making/lack of that knowledge has seen us draw a game that, fair play to MK Dons, they probably should have won with the last kick of the game.
“The balance of football swings like a pendulum. At the minute I’m much more focused on getting the transfer window over, the squad finished off and getting on the training ground and working really hard so that we can give the supporters the results that they desperately crave.”
Winger Kyle Edwards, who was making his home debut, was among those who impressed the Portman Road faithful.
“Fantastic, very talented, but I also thought Macauley Bonne was excellent today. In other areas of the pitch we know we’ve got to tighten up,” he continued.
“While I’m not a manager who speaks about positives and stuff like that, I’m so disappointed we haven’t won the game because we’re four games in now and we want to win. We all want to be promoted but you can’t do that in August and September.
“The biggest thing for us now is getting these lads together as a group, getting our fitness levels up, which is massively important and getting the lads on the pitch together and getting consistency in team selections and in my opinion we’ll see consistency in results.”
Cook revealed Hayden Coulson was replaced with a niggle in the second half and says he needs to get all his injured players fit.
“You can see Hayden had a little knee problem which he was feeling and he was going to tire,” he said. “We knew he was going to tire.
“His relationship with Kyle Edwards, Matt Penney on this side, we need Sone Aluko back fit, we need Conor Chaplin fit, we need Edmundson fit, we need Norwood, we need Nsiala, we need all our players back fit.
“And that’s something we’ll just keep working away on. As I say, we’re four games in, I thought it was a great game. I thought for the fans, if you take the result away, I thought it was a really good spectacle, I thought two good teams had a good go at each other.
“Was a draw a fair result? I don’t think so on the level of chances we had but I’m sure MK Dons will be happy with the point.”
Cook is looking forward to a free week in which he can work with his players on the training ground.
“Fantastic for us,” he said. “You know yourself, no one’s going to give us a leg up, we’ve got to work ever so hard, we’ve got to spend those hours on the training ground with repetition, decision-making.
“Where do you want to play the game when you’re winning? We seem to want to play it on the edge of our box. I know where I’d much rather play it and it’s something we can all look at and work on.
“It’s important because in most jobs if you make mistakes you look, you learn and you improve.
“Throughout my football career, that’s the way I work and I’ll always work like that. I’m not a manager who throws players under the bus, I’m not a manager who lambasts his team to the press, I believe in dressing rooms where you can have honest conversations and in training grounds where you work hard to improve. We’ve got a lot of work to do.
“Did we look a bit leggy? I thought our energy levels dropped late on. Have we worked hard? I’m sure the data will say that. The travelling away, I thought MK Dons looked fresh for a bit, then they looked tired for a bit. So you can debate it.
“We’ve drawn 2-2, we take a point. I’m a manager who enjoys drawing because it just stops rots and when you draw you can only go on and get stronger. I think if you watch us, we are going to go on and get stronger.”
He added: “No one makes mistakes deliberately, I said that to one of our supporters. Sometimes supporting your team can be tough. We’ve obviously invested in the squad, we’ve got a really strong team and people expect you to win overnight. Unfortunately football’s just not like that.”
Asked whether fans could expect any more signings this week, he said: “I don’t know, I think my bosses are around there so we’ll go and have a chat with them and see what they say.”
MK Dons boss LIam Manning was pleased with his side's display and felt he might have claimed more than a point on his return to Portman Road.
“I’m really pleased with the lads and very proud of them in terms of their attitude, application and ultimately how we played,” he said
“I thought there were some really good moments where we controlled the game, caused them some real problems and created some good chances.
“It’s now got to be about being more ruthless in both boxes, not giving away the goals and making sure at the other end that we finish teams off.
“Overall a point away from home is not a bad thing but there’s a slight frustration that it could have been more.
“We’ve progressed in the three games since I came into the club last week. We’ve not had a huge amount of time with the players on the grass but they have been very receptive to the information they are receiving.
“It’s really exciting but we mustn’t get carried away. We must make sure we turn good performances into results.
“I’ll be totally honest – coming from behind twice is not something we want to make a habit.
“It’s not good for me on the touchline. We’ve got to start controlling games and not give away so many opportunities, and while we’re dominating we need to get ahead.”
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