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Ipswich Town manager Paul Cook admits US takeover of the club took him by 'total surprise' but is sure 'very, very exciting times' lie ahead




After being absent from the first two press conferences since the US-led takeover of Ipswich Town manager Paul Cook has insisted all is well and dispelled rumours that he might not be happy at how events have unfolded, despite admitting it came as a 'total surprise'.

The Liverpudlian, who was only appointed to replace Paul Lambert by previous owner Marchs Evans on March 2, was keen to stress his focus is very much on the Blues' next seven games as he looks to achieve a top six play-off place in Sky Bet League One.

But he did give his thoughts on the big shift off the pitch, with Gamechanger 20 Ltd assuming control of the club on Wednesday, as well as revealing what he knew of it all.

Ipswich Town manager Paul Cook has been discussing the takeover news with the media for the first time Picture: Barry Goodwin
Ipswich Town manager Paul Cook has been discussing the takeover news with the media for the first time Picture: Barry Goodwin

"First of all I would like to wish Marcus every success in his future with whatever he decides to go into," he said.

"I only spent a short time knowing Marcus and I believe he done a great job. I think he had so much commitment to Ipswich Town Football Club.

"It's something I know a lot of our fans probably didn't agree but I've seen sides of him and the money that he has invested in the club previously.

New Ipswich Town chairman Mike O'Leary (right) attended his first game at Portman Road since assuming the role on Saturday and next alongside Lee O'Neil, general manager of football operations and academy manager Picture: Barry Goodwin
New Ipswich Town chairman Mike O'Leary (right) attended his first game at Portman Road since assuming the role on Saturday and next alongside Lee O'Neil, general manager of football operations and academy manager Picture: Barry Goodwin

"I've seen what poor owners do to football clubs so Marcus leaves with my best wishes and I wish him every success in the future, if he does go into football again or whatever he does.

"I have spoke to Mike O'Leary (new chairman) on numerous occasions now, he is a really good guy and a good football person who is leading a lot of stuff with the new ownership.

"I think it is very, very exciting times for Ipswich but as a person and a manager I am very much into the present and now.

"I've taken 11 points out of the fixtures that we've played. Is it 10 points in nine games and we're only won two out of nine; we don't score goals.

Like everyone else the takeover took me by total surprise...I got told like everyone else and I can only re-iterate my initial meetings with Michael O'Leary have been absolutely 100 per cent positive - Paul Cook, Ipswich Town manager

"I've got lists as height of my door on my desk at the minute of problems we've got on the pitch and we want to be promoted this year so I think the new owners are bringing so much optimisim to the club and a freshness and we want to compete at high levels in this football pyramid so over a period of time I think we will get to see the new owners a lot more and to hear from them a lot more.

"It is exciting times around the corner which is great but we have got some here and now issues which we want to address and as a football staff and football people we are in a push for promotion and we have got to stay with it."

Asked if he knew it was happening and whether that was part of his discussions with Evans on agreeing to take the job in Suffolk, he said: "I was aware that Marcus was looking for investment into the football club and a deal was struck in the end where Marcus couldn't have the majority control of the club. I think the new American investors wanted that.

Aaron Drinan shields the ball during Saturday's 0-0 home draw with MK Dons – a result which did not please manager Paul Cook Picture: Barry Goodwin
Aaron Drinan shields the ball during Saturday's 0-0 home draw with MK Dons – a result which did not please manager Paul Cook Picture: Barry Goodwin

"A deal was struck like I was informed, probably like you lot, very late on in the proceedings but I wish Marcus well and there is absolutely no issues between Paul Cook, Marcus Evans, the new owners or anything going forward other than total commitment to trying to drive Ipswich Town Football Club back to where we belong."

Asked if he was happy, with fans having been a bit concerned over the weekend, having not heard from him since the takeover with first-team coach Matt Gill having been sent to do post-match press following the 0-0 home draw with MK Dons on Saturday, he said:

"I am not happy because I watch a team that can't score that doesn't win enough!

Goalkeeper Tomas Holy kept his side from falling behind with this save on Saturday Picture: Barry Goodwin
Goalkeeper Tomas Holy kept his side from falling behind with this save on Saturday Picture: Barry Goodwin

"I am very, very much far from happy but apart from being unhappy with that I am quite happy."

But Cook admitted he is not getting carried away with the new ownership group going public on him being their number one choice as manager, as well as Evans'.

"When you are a manager today you know criticism comes very, very quickly," he said. "And as a manager I can tell the players the team reflects the manager.

"At the minute our team does not reflect me and it does not reflect our football club. Going forward that will change."

When asked what his first thoughts were when he heard the news and how quickly any fears about his future eased when speaking to the new chairman he replied: "The first think I thought was thank god for that as I'm in trouble if it wasn't, wasn't I?

"Like everyone else the takeover took me by total surprise.

"I was turning up at Portman Road like everyone else with Lee O'Niel for a meeting with Marcus which he spoke about how we had big plans for the off-season; the implement of the changes Marcus was about to take on at Ipswich Town Football Club.

"I got told like everyone else and I can only re-iterate my initial meetings with Michael O'Leary have been absolutely 100 per cent positive.

"Michael is a gentleman, he's a good guy. Going forward I've been in and around football long enough to know the rules lads. I am not a stupid person and I know exactly what goes on in football.

"If the new ownership are happy with me and that's the way we are going to go forward I only want to be here and I've got to tell everyone that.

"I joined a plan that I knew would be difficult and I knew there would be a lot of change in the club and I know going forward the ambitions that we all had.

"I feel the new owners have come in and have probably added to them ambitions. If I can be part of that and help with that success then I'll be one of the happiest people around here."

But Cook admitted he is yet to speak to any of the Three Lions group of American businessmen Brett Johnson, Berke Bakay and Mark Detmer, who have spearheaded the takeover.

"No, very much (just) Mike. As you can imagine, a lot happened quickly last week.

"Over a period of time now I am sure we will get to hear and see a lot more from the new owners that have got a real strong pedigree in football and sport and I think when you look to that, with the greatest respect for ownerships today, it makes me quite excited. But I also know my job can be a perilous position in football in any other club, like it can be at Ipswich Town.

"But my big concern and I've got to highlight it is the future of this club looks to be in very, very good hands and thing for everyone connected."

Ipswich lie eighth in the table and three points off sixth-placed Lincoln City, who hold a game in hand, ahead of playing AFC Wimbledon at Plough Lane tomorrow night (6.30pm).

Read more: Matt Gill sees plenty of positives in another goalless draw