Ipswich boss Paul Cook makes big Portsmouth play-off admission

Paul Cook has pinpointed Pompey as Ipswich’s biggest League One play-off competitors.

Monday, 8th March 2021, 3:55 pm

The Blues' 2017 League Two title-winning boss made a losing start in the Portman Road hot seat on Saturday.

The Tractor Boys suffered a 3-1 defeat to Gillingham to remain outside the play-offs.

With 15 games remaining, Cook recognises finishing sixth will be Ipswich s main aim after succeeding Paul Lambert as manager.

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Paul Cook. Picture: Martin Rickett

That berth is currently filled by Pompey, although they're now worringly looking over their shoulder after an abject 4-1 loss to lowly Northampton.

Both seventh-placed Accrington and eighth-placed Ipswich are just two points behind and have a game in hand respectively.

Cook reckons the trio are fighting it out for the final play-off spot, although he hasn't discounted Gillingham.

He told the East Anglian Daily Times: 'For us football managers, pressure is something that you have to deal with. One of the things I’ve learnt is that managers are as good as their players, without a shadow of a doubt.

‘I’ve been really fortunate to have been involved with some really good footballers at previous clubs.

‘I think at Ipswich Town, as we’d all agree, there are some very good footballers here. What we have to do is get them on the same page in terms of tactics, formations and what we’re trying to do.

‘The quicker we can do that, the quicker we can see the team flourish.

‘I think with 15 games to go, Portsmouth and Accrington are probably our biggest competitors, with Gillingham hot on us.

‘We must be deemed to have a realistic chance. I’ve never been one to ever fear pressure. I feel you should embrace it.

‘I don’t feel you should fear failure. I feel you should embrace it. That’s been my message today and it’ll be my message tomorrow and going forward.

‘We have an opportunity, so why not take it?’

Ipswich travel to Pompey on Saturday, March 20.