Ipswich Town boss Paul Cook says side need to be 'so much better' following goalless draw at Wigan Athletic
Paul Cook admitted his Ipswich Town side fell well short of what was expected in their 0-0 draw at Wigan Athletic this afternoon.
With chances few and far between for both sides in the Sky Bet League One encounter in Lancashire he suggested players need to start taking the initiative and believing in themselves to get their play-off push back on track.
With back-to-back defeats having preceded the match, the Blues remain in 11th place and still two points off the play-off places with their opponents remaining third from bottom.
In his post-match interview with BBC Radio Suffolk's Brenner Wooley he said: "It was an ok point for us in the end, if we be truthful.
"The game lacked quality from both teams. The pitch was difficult, I suppose, but you make excuses don't you?
"We need to be so much better as a team and we take a point and we move on to the next game.
"There are 10 games left in our season and the inbalances of home and away games have been quite strong loaded away. A big positive for us is that we drew with Lincoln and beat Plymouth at home and we go into Bristol Rovers at home now.
"But we need a win quickly, we're got to get a win on the board quickly just to give ourselves the belief that we can make those play-offs."
Asked how disappointed he was that his side did not grab the game by the scruff of the neck he replied: "I'm not so sure we've got that in us at the minute, have we?
"You guys have probably watched us a lot longer than me. By the time we huff and puff and do what sort of revert to where we look at times defensively quite ok but we finished the game very nervy and I don't understand that. We should be controlling games and opening teams up; putting quality balls into the box and that is just something we're not doing at the minute.
"We just keep going away and you get on that training ground and you work harder and harder and you remind the players and myself that when you are managing and playing for a big club there is expectancy, and that's a really good expectancy as it's something that you've got to step up to. And at the minute, I'd suggest myself included, we've got a little bit of a way to get to that mark."
Asked if he was still unwavering in his belief that the Blues can finish the season in the play-off positions, Cook said: "Yeah, come on, I remember someone once told me if you don't believe how can anyone else?
"I look at it and I go to myself we need a big rub of the green.
"Like I just said to them in the dressing room after the game, everyone looks like they are waiting for someone else to do something and I've never seen a team like that.
"We've got to have go-to players that step up to the plate that go I'll cross that onto Norwood's head.
At the minute we are just stuttering away. We are like an engine that has gone a bit wrong and we keep stuttering in the hope that we can find a gear that can take us forward - Paul Cook
"I'm desperate to give Kayden Jackson a run down the middle of the pitch with James Norwood but it's something that I've never played. You've got to be a very direct team to do it and you've got to have wingers putting balls into the box, you've got to have second strikers and it's just something that I don't really see us being really good at.
"But what I can guarantee our supporters is that I won't stick with anything rigid with a 10-game campaign that could see us be successful, that's for sure."
Asked if the players really believed in being able to make the top six and if he saw it in them, Cook replied: "I'd suggest no, if I'm being brutally honest with you.
"I'd suggest they just look at each other and hope that someone steps up.
"That's not how I've managed in my career and that's not how my teams play. Home and away we take the game to people, we go off on the front foot, we're aggressive.
"I think the Kane Vincent-Young substitution at half-time was disappointing because I think there was one just before half-time where we have seen the qualities that he can bring to the game with a really good over-lapping (run) and penetration into the box. And that's what we want to be and that's a glimpse of it.
"Listen, our supporters watching their iFollows in their thousands they will be as disappointed as anyone tonight but all I can tell them is there won't be a stone unturned; we want to go up this year. We are desperate to get into those play-offs.
"Tonight it doesn't look good but tomorrow is a different day."
Put to him that time is running out and it is now or never, he replied: "I will shoulder all that pressure for those players. It is my job. Those players have only got to put a run together and in this league if you win two or three games you will be exactly where you want to be.
"If you try starting a marathon you've got to do the first mile. At the minute we're at the starting blocks.
"We all know the marathon is going to be tough but we can do it."
Cook also revealed full-back Vincent-Young, who was starting his first competitive game for 17 months, having returned from a run of injuries, was withdrawn due to a hamstring problem.
"He pulled his hamstring and had to come off," he said.
"I'm so disappointed for the lad as he's worked so hard to get back in but it is what it is and we have to accept it."
As well as going on to say the players have "struggled with the expectancy on them", he added of the performance: "The brute reality today (was) we didn't have the quality to open them up to score a goal and that is heartbreaking isn't it? But there you go."
Looking ahead to their Easter programme, he said: "With our lads they've got to feel and taste that we're so close. If we beat Bristol Rovers (away on Friday) and go up to Rochdale, the reality is we're in the play-offs.
"Is that asking too much of our players? I don't think it is. I think I am demanding it now, to be truthful."
Asked if he expected more from his first half a dozen matches, having won one, drew two and lost three, scoring four and conceding eight, he replied: "Listen, of course I did. You can come in and say what you want. The biggest concern I had when I walked into the building was the lack of goals in the team.
"As I speak to you guys now I haven't solved that problem.
"I love teams that put loads of crosses in and get in great areas of the pitch that can do everything.
"At the minute we are just stuttering away. We are like an engine that has gone a bit wrong and we keep stuttering in the hope that we can find a gear that can take us forward.
"But I tell you what, we'll keep working at it, that's for sure."
He ended by saying the under-23s' game at Charlton on Monday would see a strong side put out and with his staff and himself watching it will be "an opportunity to impress".
He added: "The club will be off Tuesday and we'll come in Wednesday, Thursday and we'll fly into Bristol Rovers in the biggest game of our season on Friday."
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