'We hoped we’d win... We didn’t believe' - Cook on Rochdale draw
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Ipswich Town manager Paul Cook admitted his team lacked belief and quality following this afternoon’s goalless draw at rock-bottom Rochdale.
Neither side produced a shot on target as the Blues saw the gap to the play-off places grow to three points with eight games to go.
“Obviously guys we all watched the same game,” said Cook.
“Managers now, we’re in a culture where you try and take the big positives and the positive is we’ve got a point.
“We kept a clean sheet and we haven’t folded away from home where we might have done previously.
“I felt it was a game we never looked like losing. We looked quite solid at the back. Did we ever look like scoring the goals to win us the game? Probably not.
“The flair players in football today are huge at every football club no matter who you are.
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“Our record this year shows we haven’t really scored enough goals. We’ve huffed and puffed in those areas and today we did the same thing.
“I’ll just keep working with the boys. I’ve just said to them in there that we have to have a little bit of humility about us as a group.
“We’re at a great club, everyone knows that, but we’ve heard all that before.
“The first thing we all do is look at ourselves. Are we working hard enough? Are we doing enough? So that going forwards we can have a plan.
“Today we hoped we’d win the game. We didn’t believe we were going to win it... We hoped.
“As a club like ours coming to Rochdale you’ve got to be better than that. We’ve got to believe we are going to win. It’s got to be ‘when’ we’re going to win and ‘what minute are we going to score?’.
“None of us felt that today and that’s the sadness. But, sadness can soon to joy can’t it?”
He added: “You don’t need many comments from me on that today. You guys travel and watch it. Sometimes our quality on the ball is alarming.
“Why is that? I can’t answer those questions. We travel here on the back of a good home win. We travelled to Fleetwood on the back of a good home win. Yet for some reason we just don’t seem to take games by the scruff of the neck and say ‘we’re Ipswich Town, we are now dominating this football match and we’re about to take control’.
“It’s always hope and you don’t play football with hope... Well, you have to play with hope, but you have to play with belief. And the belief comes from your players.
“As you know I will never criticise the players. Could they have ran more or worked harder today? No. Did we lack quality? Yes. One hundred per cent.”
Asked how he can change those problems, Cook said: “We are where we are. James Norwood is out injured. Today Oli Hawkins has come on. We’ve put combinations together which you guys know we haven’t really worked on.
“Let’s have it right, we’re at the stage of the season where getting on the training field is difficult because of fatigue and tiredness. We travelled up north yesterday.
“What we have at the club is a really honest group of players. They are honest. There’s no doubting about that.
“I’ve been in dressing rooms that have characters that aren’t honest. We don’t have that. We’ve got a really good group of young lads that are honest, but at times we’re lacking quality. And you’d expect us to have that quality at this club.
“But with eight games to go we still have a chance of doing something. I’ve said to them in there: ‘You’ve got to be the one to step up. It’s your time. Now is your time. Forget everything that’s gone on, let’s step up to the plate.”
He continued: “Let’s lick our wounds, travel back south. Disappointment is never far away in football and the biggest disappointment is we want to be so much better than we are.
“With eight games to go we’ve got to find a way haven’t we?
“Within the shape of the team we do look quite solid. I’ll give them that. But we don’t look like scoring.
“We made five positive subs I’d suggest. I might be wrong. Myles Kenlock, sorry, came on the left side, but that’s because Teddy Bishop was just shattered having worked ever so hard. And he’d carried an ankle problem from the game on Friday. So Myles came on just to block that side.
“But we tried our best to get players on. I thought Oli Hawkins looked a handful by the way, I’ve got to say that.
“It is what it is. You’ve watched it yourselves so you don’t need me to go over it much more.”
Cook added: “Going forwards I have beliefs in the game, but at the minute we don’t have the personnel to do that. One of things we do have is players coming back from injury.
“Flynn Downes is back with us, Kane Vincent-Young will be back this week, so we have options to get good players on the pitch.
“We’ve got the ingredients, haven’t we? What we’ve got to do is try and out them into the pot and make a nice meal. At the minute I’m not quite so sure what it will be next Saturday!
“So feel free to write in and give us some suggestions!
“Keep believing. That would be my message to our fans. I know it’s been a tough year for everyone.
“It’s easy to criticise us again. I watch the games as a fan. If I’m a travelling fan today would I have been happy? No, not a chance. But would I go home and still support my team? A hundred per cent.”
Asked if a failure to claim six points from games against the division’s bottom two sides over the Easter weekend could have ended his team’s promotion hopes, Cook said: “I genuinely thought it had to be four. I’ve got to be honest with that.
“I think to myself if you keep picking up four points out of each two games then you’ll be fine. The reality is each dropped point puts more pressure on the next game.
“It looks at the minute like our home form has been good yet away from home we need to be better. That’s for me and the staff to address.
“My biggest message to the players is: ‘Step up to the plate, come on, there’s eight games to go and so much to play for. Let’s step up to the plate’. That will be my continuous message.”