Ipswich Town manager Paul Cook criticised his team’s mentality and said there’s still a ‘long way’ for his squad to go after their 2-1 win against Shrewsbury Town yesterday afternoon, speaking to the East Anglian Daily Times.
With no side badly affected by call-ups during the international break, the tie between the two sides was an opportunity for either side to steal a march on some of the teams around them.
In the end, it proved to be the Tractor Boys who would take all three points, with Macauley Bonne’s 54th-minute header breaking the deadlock after Conor Chaplin and Shaun Whalley grabbed one each to make it 1-1 at half-time.
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This win lifted the Suffolk-based side to 14th in the League One table and could now have the top six in their sights, with Cook’s men just six points off the play-offs as things stand with a whopping 35 games left to play this season.
Yesterday afternoon’s victory atoned for a disappointing defeat at the Wham Stadium against Accrington Stanley last weekend – and may have gone a long way in putting the past behind them after suffering a miserable spell of form in the early stages of the season.
But even after recovering from this, after failing to win any of their opening six games of the campaign, manager Cook is still demanding more from his players and had a few criticisms to make of his side after the narrow victory against Steve Cotterill’s men.
He said: “I’m trying my best to not sound like an idiot, but I’m not happy.
“You can’t play as well as we did for 23 minutes, score, and then play the next 23 minutes like that.
“That’s not football. That’s a team that thinks it’s done enough in the game and comes completely off the gas. That can’t be tolerated.
“You can see at the end of the game what it means to our fans. You can see how hungry they are for this club to be successful.
“We’ve put together a really talented group of players, without a doubt, but we’ve got a long, long way to go.”
This is great management from Paul Cook.
Although what he says to his players will sometimes be different from what he says to the media, the players will notice the media interviews Cook gives, so this demand to push their standards even higher now they’re in a better position sets them up well for the rest of the campaign.
Complacency could be their worst enemy between now and the end of the season.
You wouldn’t have blamed Ipswich fans for getting carried away at the beginning of 2021/22 because of the players they had brought in, but the players and management need to keep their eye on the ball and after suffering an early-season scare with their poor form, this will be a warning of what the rest of the campaign could be like in such a competitive division.
In fairness, those poor results at the start of the year were largely due to the fact the new-look squad hadn’t jelled together yet – and that’s totally understandable considering the amount of movement that occurred both in and out of the club in the space of just a few months.
Now is the time for them to push on and improve further, so Cook has struck the right tone here. Some people would view his comments as harsh after a win, but only the very best performances will do if they want to return to the Championship.