Ipswich Town boss Paul Cook admits he is facing the biggest test of his managerial career following winless start continuing with home defeat to West Ham United Under-21s
Paul Cook has said he is experiencing the biggest test of character in his long managerial career following Ipswich Town's 2-1 home defeat to West Ham United Under-21s in their opening Papa John's (EFL) Trophy tie last night.
Armstrong Okoflex's last minute penalty – after goalkeeper Tomas Holy clattered into Jamal Baptiste – secured the visitors the three points in Southern Group A. It came after Keenan Appiah-Forson's low 12th minute shot had provided a quick reply to James Norwood's close-range third-minute opener.
Cook, who had promised supporters a strong side, made 10 changes to the team that started Saturday's embarassing 5-2 home League One defeat to Bolton Wanderers on Saturday, with only full-back Kane Vincent-Young retaining his place.
Transfer deadline day signing Sam Morsy, who joined from Middlesborough, captained the side on his debut while 17-year-old Albie Armin also made his Blues bow in the centre of the defence.
West Ham ended the game with 10 men after Pierre Ekwah's stoppage-time challenge on Zanda Siziba while Holy looked to have got away with spilling the ball over his goalline before conceding the late penalty.
It makes it eight games in all competitions without a victory to start the 2021/22 campaign, with three draws from six League One matches leaving Town third from bottom of the table and out of the Carabao (League) Cup at the first hurdle.
The full transcript of Cook's post-match interview with iFollow Ipswich is available below, as well as the video.
Q: Paul that must have been a tough one to take?
A: "It's the same story but another night.
"We're giving soft goals away and defensively, whether Saturday or tonight, we're not at it. We made 10 changes to give some of the lads a chance to say 'I should be playing' but once again it hasn't been a good night for us.
"The supporters' frustration at the end is fully justified. At the moment we're a team searching for our soul. That's what we're searching for, and we're not finding it, but we need to quickly that's for sure."
Q: How concerning is the familiar nature of the game? Once again we take the lead and again we take nothing from the match...
A "We score and what we've done before we'll do again. Until we break the cycle, then it'll just stay the same. We never created enough chances in the game, without a shadow of doubt. West Ham came and had a lot of men behind the ball and made it difficult for us to break them down and then all of a sudden at the end they nick a penalty. That's where we're at right now.
"We have to go away and the mindset must be stronger. We must have a mentality that we're going to get better and we must get better quickly that's for sure."
Q: In games at the moment, despite being level, are we almost expecting things to go wrong?
A "Given the results we've had, especially at home, even one like Newport, I felt we had a good number of attempts on goal and created chances. Tonight I didn't feel that. For our possession we had no penetration and didn't create clear-cut chances. When that's the case, you're always liable for things to go the way they did. We have to work hard on the training ground.
"We had a debut for Sam Morsy tonight which is pleasing, and there were debutants on Saturday. We are new, but that mantra can only last so long. We keep making the same mistakes. Unfortunately, if you keep making the same mistakes, then something has to happen. Something has to happen and for us the results have to change."
Q: Can you put it down to anything in particular?
A: "I'm not going to criticise the players.
"We give soft goals away and right now we're a soft team. It has to change."
Q: How big a test of character is this?
A: "It's the biggest test of character in my managerial career. I've just told the players that and I don't mind telling you that.
"I watch the game as a fan. Do I leave happy? No. I leave unhappy and frustrated. I'm in a fortunate position, though, where I can do something about it. The frustration is there for everyone, all of the staff included, we have to pick ourselves up and change the cycle."
Q: That's a big statement, Paul, given the managerial career you've already had?
A: "To players and fans a lot of tough words will be said. I wanted the lads tonight to show us who should be playing Saturday. That was the big challenge for the team - to show us who should be playing Saturday."
The Blues return to League One action at a Lincoln City side on Saturday (3pm) who are 15th in the table following last night's 1-1 draw at home to Rotherham United.