'It was a tiny step forwards' - Cook on 0-0 draw at Charlton

Paul Cook at Charlton Athletic

Paul Cook at Charlton Athletic - Credit: Pagepix Ltd

Ipswich Town manager Paul Cook said this afternoon's 0-0 draw at Charlton was a 'tiny step forwards' for his players.

The Blues may have played out their fourth goalless stalemate in six matches, but this was a much brighter display from the team following Tuesday night's 3-0 loss at AFC Wimbledon.

Cook had not minced his words in the build-up to this clash and promised to perform 'major surgery' on the squad this summer.

"Of course it was!" said Cook, when it was put to him that tis was a better performance.

"I've been so frustrated since I've been at the club at not being able to play a system I've wanted to play everywhere and trusted.

"The stats on our team this year in terms of energy and running have not been great. 

"Certainly after Tuesday it was a case of, listen, what will be will be now.

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"There will be no more protecting players in terms of positional play or anything else. We played with a style today.

"I thought for the first 15 minutes, 18 minutes of the game we were excellent.

"We really started the game well against a team that's in strong form. We put it up to everyone. We had long spells of control today. Going forwards that's how we'll be as a team. We'll have energy and quality in wide areas, plenty of crosses in the box and scoring goals. We want to to be an exciting team and, at the minute, we've been anything but exciting.

"Today I thought was a really nice small step, just a tiny step, for our supporters. They saw a glimpse that we can travel home and away and we can control games, albeit we didn't control the whole game today.

"It's just a small indicator of what we could be about."

He continued: "I just told the players in there that everyone will have their own career now. I will have my own managerial career and the players will have theirs. I just said 'let's not have regrets'.

"Today, at 72/73 minutes, we were wavering. We have to make substitutions at the minute because people are physically tired. That's not football clubs lads. You make changes for tactical reasons, not because of athleticism.

"I've got no problems with any of our lads. All our lads have had different reasons why they've not been playing. But we've got to get fitter, we have to be stronger, we have to be better in every area of the pitch.

"Going forward, I aspire for us to be the best team on the pitch every week.

"But today I'm delighted with us, honestly I am. 

"As an Ipswich fan I stood there and enjoyed watching us today. I haven't enjoyed watching us at all lately. 

"I said to the players that even when we've won at home we've won hanging on. You don't win like that. You win by scoring more goals and being aggressive.

"Our players have had so many knocks. Imagine how these lads actually feel? Forget how bad we've done - and we have, there's no hiding place from that - but we're asking these lads to be rave and show confidence when they are probably in their worst moments of the season.

"We are a good club, a strong club and we have to support our players for as long as they are here."

With Portsmouth losing at MK Dons, Town close the gap to the play-off places to four points heading into their final five matches.

"I'm excited, I've got to tell you," said Cook. "I told the players yesterday that while I've got something burning in my stomach myself, a little light flickering, until it goes out then we won't lie down for no-one.

"We've got to win at Northampton (away) on Tuesday night. I think we'll take confidence into the game now.

"Now it will be a big test for us, because when we've done okay on a Saturday we haven't travelled on a Tuesday. So it's a 'watch this space'."

With striker James Norwood again limping off in the first half, Cook said: "It's a hamstring injury, yeah.

"I'll tell you what James' struggles have been this season in my opinion.

"I went to the Peterborough-Northampton game last night and I saw Jonson Clarke-Harris.... James Norwood has been starved of service this year. He's been starved of quality crosses in the box. He plays in a team that doesn't create enough chances.

"I believe that we've got a really good striker at the club. Unfortunately, James has probably got frustrated at times with how we are playing and that's resulted in both parties probably not being happy with each other.

"Unfortunately his hamstring will be what it will be.

"We just want people to concentrate on being as good as they can be themselves. Let the manager worry about the rest of your team."

So Norwood, who has another year on his deal, is still part of his plans going forwards?

"Listen, until something changes everyone is," said Cook.

"For players I'm an honest manager. I don't tell people lies. 

"James Norwood, we spoke yesterday. If we can't create chances then James Norwood may as well not be here today because he's playing against Inniss and Pearce, two absolute man mountains. 

"We have to be better with the ball. It's an accumulation of getting every slot right that will see us become a good team.

"Everyone is playing for their futures at the minute.

"James is like me. I'm a manager and I'm fighting for my future. If I don't get it right then the reality is someone else will be here. But I'll fight hard that's for sure."

With Kane Vincent-Young completing 90 minutes on his latest injury comeback, Cook said: "I was delighted. He tired, but he's galloped so well today. He looks so energetic. Hopefully going forward we can get combinations going where we see that pace and energy all over the pitch, we see flair players who can create and score goals, we see full-backs going forwards. It's modern day football and it's something we've got to join quickly."

He added: "At every club I've been at I love my players. I've had players at my previous clubs who would run through brick walls for me. The reason that is because I'd run through brick walls for them.

"We've got to get that relationship at the club.

"Sometimes it won't always be happy, where I can promise everyone that it will be a good future. But I certainly treat everyone with respect and look after them the best I can until our paths go a different way.

"That's what we've got to do. We've got to challenge each other every day. Because this is too big a club to be in the position that we're in."

Asked if consistency of performance is now what he's after, Cook replied: “That’s what good teams do isn’t it?  

“You guys travel and probably sometimes think ‘I wonder what formation they’ll play today?’  

“That’s not how good teams travel! 

“You guys should follow Ipswich knowing we’ll play off our front front, what our system will be and how our number 10 can be adaptable. 

“We’ll be 4-2-3-1 and we’ll be strong and we’ll be aggressive. We’ll have loads of penetration in the final third. 

“At the minute everything about our stats isn’t good enough. 

“But we can’t keep debating it after every game. We’re not going to get everyone super fit after a week. 

“What we’ve got to do now is look for signs of people that can take us forward. 

“I thought Andre Dozzell was excellent today by the way. Again, he’s another player who has probably had a bit of criticism. Even off myself. 

“I thought he was absolutely superb today."

He added: "Teddy Bishop was outstanding too. Isn’t it nice that we’ve come off and we’re speaking well about our players? We should be doing that every week! 

“Going forward the questions will hopefully change to ‘who do you think was ma of the match today Paul?’ That’s where we’ve got to go rather than." 

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