Ipswich boss Paul Cook sensationally ends silence over reasons for controversial Portsmouth exit to Wigan

Paul Cook has sensationally given his side of the story over his controversial Pompey exit.

Friday, 19th March 2021, 12:19 pm
Updated Friday, 19th March 2021, 1:21 pm

In an explosive interview with The News, the former Blues boss has told his tale surrounding the controversial departure for Wigan, as he opened up over the issue after nearly four years.

Cook outlined his disappointment at the sequence of events which culminated in the Scouser leaving, less than four weeks after dramatically winning the League Two title.

The 54-year is adamant he never was looking to depart Fratton Park, and the manner in which events were portrayed didn’t represent the reality of what unfolded.

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And Cook stunningly intimated he believes Kenny Jackett was lined up to replace him as boss before he departed, ahead of the Eisners takeover being completed that summer.

When asked if he felt Jackett’s appointment was a done deal before his exit, Cook told The News: ‘What they always say is if you ask the question, you know the answer! I’ll leave that one with you!

‘What sticks in my mind is the disappointment I didn’t stay to take the club forward.

‘I should have stayed, that’s the brutal truth. There should never have been an opportunity for me to leave.

Former Pompey boss Paul Cook. Picture: Ian Walton/Getty Images

‘We were going forward and the team was going forward.

‘I had my reasons for why I left and it was due to other stuff, but other people will have a bearing on that.

‘Four years on, we’ve all moved on. Portsmouth has moved on and I’ve moved on.

‘I did at the time really love my time at Portsmouth, it was never the case where I courted to go to Wigan. Never the case.

Paul Cook celebrating the League Two title in May 2017 - but Robbie Blake is convinced if the manager had stayed there would have been other Pompey promotions. Picture: Joe Pepler/Digital South.

‘It was the disappointment of one or two things which happened at the end of that season.

‘I felt they were totally wrong, but it’s gone. I hold no grudge, but I’m so disappointed.

‘It’s unfair on myself (the way things were portrayed). Totally unfair on me, but that’s life.

Iain McInnes, right, celebrates Pompey's promotion with then manager Paul Cook in 2017

‘If Pompey fans knew the facts they would be nowhere near as tough on me, but I’m not trying to change that.

‘The facts will probably never come out. There’s no need for it to come out, especially at a time when Portsmouth have just appointed a new manager.

‘But I hold the greatest memories of Portsmouth, I really do.’

Many Pompey fans clamoured for Cook’s return this season before his Ipswich appointment, as they turned against Jackett.

He ruled out the prospect of that ever happening again after all that has taken place, and told of a breakdown in relations with chief executive Mark Catlin and chief operating officer Tony Brown.

But the man who delivered the League Two title on the final day of the 2016-17 season in exultant scenes, spoke warmly of the pair along with his special bond with former chairman Iain McInnes and the Blues board under community ownership.

Cook added: ‘I had an amazing relationship with Iain McInnes, Mark Catlin and Tony Brown.

‘With all relations there will be a little breakdown but within the breakdown with Mark and Tony, I’d never offer up anything to them other than the best for Portsmouth Football Club and them being really good people.

‘The reality is because I didn’t get my own way it doesn’t make them bad people.

‘The Americans were coming and the Eisners, but I had a very special relationship with Iain McInnes that managers crave for. Hopefully I’ve got the same now with (Ipswich owner) Marcus Evans.

‘In this day and age those relationships are very few and far between.

‘Once you’ve made your bed to leave, though, there’s no way I’d ever go back.

‘There’s no way I’d ever return to Portsmouth. I’ve done that trip.

‘I wish Portsmouth every success in the future, I really do.

‘When you have fans as strong as them, they deserve every success they can get.

‘I certainly won’t be returning to Portsmouth at any given time - but I certainly wish the club well.’

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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