I know I have mentioned this before, but I cannot help but lowlight it again. Paul Jewell and Paul Cook have far too much in common for my liking.
Not only do they share the same Christian name, and played in the same Wigan side from 1984 to 1988, but they both went on to manage Ipswich Town! More to the point, their football philosophy seems to be strikingly similar, and that is to attack at the expense of our defence.
Now you might argue that this is not entirely correct because Cook normally plays a 4-2-3-1 formation – or conversely 4-1-4-1 as he did on Saturday when we trailed Bolton by three goals. That is true, but although we only play with one out and out striker in Macauley Bonne these days, we have wing-backs pushing forward, and he is also supported by Wes Burns and Sone Aluko and sometimes Conor Chaplin too, so the emphasis is still on attack. Our midfield seems often to be in two minds.
Just like the Paul Jewell sides of old, we know how to attack but we don’t seem to know how to defend. It is a reoccurring theme and is so reminiscent of the days of the other Liverpool Paul, who provided us with entertaining football often, but without the good results to go with it. They both seem to fall into the ‘tactically inept’ category, and this new project feels more like a work in regress, more than progress, as we take one step forward and two steps back.
Ironically, Jewell ended his time at Ipswich with a 34.9% win ratio compared to Cook 18.2% as things stand. Jewell managed Town for 86 games and managed 30 wins. Cook has recorded just four victories in 23 games so far, so he still has a long way to go before we can accurately assess his success rate, but these stats are very concerning and he knows it!
Speaking after that 2-5 defeat at Portman Road, when the players left the field to a chorus of boos, Cook told Radio Suffolk that he sympathised with their frustration. “We have to offer our fans more and I shoulder all that. It is what I have been brought in to do and what I have done at other clubs. It is probably the lowest point of my career. I will take that like a man. My job is to solve problems and that is something we will work hard to do.”
And it begs the question, what in God’s name do they do on the training field? Do they practice archery or something – because it certainly is not defending! Bryan Klug is still the head of coaching and player development and that is why so many young players are reaching the first-team squad. But what of the rest? Are they worthy of their positions? Gary Roberts and Francis Jeffers are relative rookies and Ian Craney worked alongside Cook as a kitman at Wigan Athletic, so does he have the wherewithal to do the business at first-team level? He is probably better in his old job.
In my view, Cooks needs another Leam Richardson as his right-hand man. He did not want to join him here and has gone on to better things with The Latics, who are second in the League One table.