North Stander: Talk of sacking Cook is absolutely ridiculous
- Credit: Steve Waller - www.stephenwaller
North Stander TERRY HUNT hears the rumblings and understands the concern. But he also remembers a time when Joe Royle had the last laugh after a woeful start.
I know it was shambolic, chaotic, and the worst performance of the season so far - but it’s still not time to press the panic button.
Yet again, our players looked like a bunch of strangers. Hardly surprising, because that’s exactly what they are. Our starting line-up featured only one player who was at the club last season. Too much change? Maybe.
The results and performances are certainly desperately disappointing, and increasingly worrying. We’re in the relegation zone, haven’t won yet, have conceded more goals than any league club apart from Reading, and have an awful habit of giving away goals within minutes of scoring.
The telltale signs of pressure building on the manager were plain to see in his tetchy responses at the post-match media conference. We’ve been here before!
But talk of sacking Paul Cook is absolutely and utterly ridiculous. We’ve played six league games, for goodness sake! There are 40 to go. I still maintain that October will be the crunch time. If we’re still playing this poorly at that stage, then maybe...
But what would that mean? A new manager would presumably want his own players, wouldn’t want some of Cook’s squad, and the merry go round would start again. Total and utter chaos.
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Teams can recover spectacularly after very poor starts. I remember the normally genial Joe Royle was less than impressed back in 2003 when this newspaper pointed out that, after gaining just two points from their first six league games, his team had made one of the worst starts in the club’s history.
Joe definitely had the last laugh, winning the next three games and kick-starting a campaign which saw the team finish third, just missing out on automatic promotion from the Championship. Let’s hope Royle’s fellow scouser Cook has the last laugh, too.
Our fans are nervous after pretty much 20 years when we have been starved of success and entertaining football.
There was a fantastic atmosphere at the start of the Bolton game, and even more so when we want ahead so early on through Macauley Bonne. But when the visitors levelled so quickly, everything changed.
You could feel - and hear - the negative reaction from fans. Of course that’s understandable. There is an inevitable collective feeling of “here we go again.” It’s like someone sucks the energy out of the stadium.
But I don’t think sarcastically cheering every pass when we managed a spell of possession really helped anybody. I know we’re disappointed, I know we’re impatient, I know it was a tough watch, but we need to stick together.
There is a growing body of opinion among our supporters that Cook is struggling because he doesn’t have his long-time right-hand man Leam Richardson alongside him. The chatter has become louder because of the impressive start Richardson’s Wigan have made.
Was it telling that Cook was rather spiky when the question of coaching was raised by the media after the Bolton game?
There’s no doubt that we lack an experienced number two. A very wise Town fan said to me last week: “if I was running Ipswich Town, I would head to Wigan and pay whatever it takes to prise Leam Richardson away.” Is he the missing piece of our jigsaw?
The truth is we are still very much a work in progress. We are still seeing players making their debuts, and there are still key performers - notably Bersant Celina and Sam Morsy - who haven’t set foot on the grass yet.
Cook seems to view Morsy as the leader who will transform the team. We certainly looked lost and leaderless when things started going wrong against Bolton. Hopefully he will also bring much-needed “bite” to our defensive midfield areas. We have a very soft centre at the moment.
There were some positives on Saturday. Aluko looked impressive throughout, and Edmundson was solid in the first half of his debut, before being caught up in the defensive shambles of the second half. Bonne will score 20 goals this season.
So, off we go to Lincoln next Saturday. That certainly won’t be easy, after they scored five at Cambridge. Any visit to Sincil Bank gives me the shivers, for obvious reasons...
It will come right. We have good players. We just need to build a team. There is still a very, very long way to go.