David Cameron Walker

Posts Tagged ‘Paul Cook’

A promising start

Wednesday, September 11th, 2013

pcookIt’s been the best start in over a century for a Chesterfield team that just two weeks after the end of last season didn’t have enough players in their first team to field a full 16-man squad. The departure of faces such as Danny Whittaker, Craig Westcarr and the retiring Jack Lester left Chesterfield fans with the little to look forward to as Paul Cook aimed to turn the squad into one of his own. However, with the bad comes the good and the likes of Gary Roberts, Ritchie Humphries and a returning Ian Evatt meant Chesterfield were out for promotion this year.

As pre-season favourites to go up, the Spireites have lived up to all the hype with just one defeat in all competitions so far this season and victories over the likes of Portsmouth and Bury, two teams considered very strong sides in League Two this year. Although there have only been six fixtures played Chesterfield are still seen as people’s favourites for promotion, even if it isn’t to be as champions once again.

The next three fixtures for Chesterfield are tough ones playing both third place, AFC Wimbledon at home before travelling to second place Oxford United. A defeat in either of these matches could see the tide of the table turned very early on in the season. News of Nathan Smith’s injury giving him an earlier return date than expected will be music to the ears of Paul Cook’s boys.

The season highlight so far in my eyes will be the unfortunate defeat at the hands of Leeds United. Travelling to a club who are hoping for a return to the top flight soon and taking them that extra mile is something Chesterfield can be very proud of with a performance that even Leeds United fans saw as exceptional. One United fan even claimed that if both sides played similar football for the remainder of the season they will be meeting up in League One next season on more than one occasion.

However, the early exit hasn’t seen Chesterfield disappointed and dropping just two points in the League so far this season sees them currently sat at the top of League Two. As some people say, it is only early days, but the performances shown by the Chesterfield team can only be described as promising.

Providing Chesterfield can avoid defeat to Oxford United, AFC Wimbledon and in the local derby against Mansfield Town the Spireites will see nothing stopping them and they may extend on the records they set themselves three years ago under John Sheridan, when the afore mentioned released players helped them take the League Two title. Another player involved in this feat was Deane Smalley, who rejected a contract renewal at the Proact to move down South.

For now, a confident start for Chesterfield and similar performances will see them create a promising lead ahead of their promotion rivals early on. Dave Allen’s five year plan for the Championship started three years ago and needs back-to-back promotions to make it happen. It is possible and has happened before with other clubs and with Paul Cook in charge, I can strongly say the next five years for Chesterfield may just be the most promising in their history.

Written by Adam Marsden, We Are Going Up’s Chesterfield blogger

Adam tweets at @AJMarsden

The Cook Report

Wednesday, November 7th, 2012

Alright I know the title is a little cheesy and there are probably many better ones I could have gone for, it is however finally nice to have a manager with a headline friendly name, after all where can you go with Sheridan?

Following a very good start to Captain Cook’s (sorry, that’s the last one) tenure as Chesterfield manager, a blog post of my first impressions of the new man was always high on my list. I know we are only two games into the new era, but as we all know first impressions are important, and I have to say I’ve been more than impressed.

So hand’s up who wasn’t a little disappointed when the rumours first broke of Paul Cook being the next manager? I’m guessing most Chesterfield fans, if they’re honest, were hoping for a bigger name to get the juices flowing. This name obviously didn’t following the likes of Sean Dyche, Paul Ince and Nick Barnby being bandied around the message board and Twitter, I suppose the guy had very little chance of his name creating a buzz.

Like I guess most fans did when the rumours were far too strong to be anything but nailed on, I did a bit of research and watched a few post and pre match interviews he had done in his soon to be departed role as manager of Accrington Stanley. First of all I didn’t know he was from Liverpool. It’s amazing how even where somebody is from has an impact on your expectations. Think Liverpool and football, think the 1980’s side that dominated domestically and in Europe with flowing, passing, attractive football. Combine that with the Accrington side that came to the Proact and passed us off the park, even though they somewhere managed to lose 4-3, and that buzz begins as you think what this guy could bring to our club.

Next up was the press conference. Flanked by owner Dave Allen and Chief Executive Chris Turner, Cook spoke really well about how he believes in “hard work on the training ground and preparing the best way possible for Saturday’s game.”

The revelation from Dave Allen regarding the 2 to 3 hour, 4 days a week training regime that had been employed in recent times, came as a shock to me. How could professional footballers be expected to perform to the best of their abilities with such little training? Surely this was not the ‘norm’ in football? Things were obviously about to change with the new man and rightly so, the recent performances had looked lack lustre and lethargic, was this lack of training the reason?

The terms ‘winning football’ and ‘played the right way’ are always good ones to hear from a new manager. Paul Cook’s performance was promising and it was finally nice to have a manager who looks at ease with the media, maybe the fans would start to get some refreshingly honest feedback before and after games.

With the appointment happening on the Friday before Saturday’s home game to bottom side Barnet, recent caretakers Tommy Wright and Mark Crossley were to pick the side and be in charge for the final time. They had done a sterling job trying to steady the ship while a decision was made regarding the manager. I think like most, a fresh approach was required to provide a lift at the club, fans and squad alike. They hadn’t done too much wrong in their roles, it was simply time for a change.

It was reported Paul Cook would take his seat in the stand during the Barnet game and take charge ‘proper’ on Monday morning. I more than anybody was very pleased to see him immediately take his seat in the dugout following his introduction to the fans on the pitch. What manager worth his salt would not join his new team in the dugout? Within 5 minutes of the game he was stood at the side of the pitch, arms folded and shouting out instructions. The obvious enthusiasm of the man was there for all to see.

The resulting performance leading to a 1 nil defeat would have left him with a good idea of what he was up against. The team has shown promise in flashes but an incredible inconsistency so far this season. His comments after the game again were impressive, stating “Performances like that won’t be accepted. It’s important the lads cop onto the fact that we’re a big club in this division.”

With a full weeks training to get the side ready for the visit of Hartlepool in the first round of the FA Cup, I was hopeful he could have some effect and see us through to round two, not something we’re used too as Chesterfield fans. Managerless Hartlepool were bottom of League Oneso we had a chance. This was to be Paul Cook’s first team selection, what formation would he play? Would any regulars be dropped to warm the bench? Changes were inevitable with the suspension of captain Sam Hird and Huddersfield Town loanees Liam Ridehalge and Chris Atkinson not granted permission to play from their parent club.

The biggest surprise in the team news was Scott Boden leading the line in what looked like a 4-5-1 formation. Craig Clay was given a start alongside Togwell in centre midfield, with Randall, Whitaker and Darwikwa, A new loanee in centre back Liam Cooper from Hull City had been drafted in during the week; he was also given a start.

In what has to be the biggest change in a side I have ever witnessed from a previous performance, we went on to totally dominate the game and go thorough to the second round with a 6-1 victory. The energy, possession and creativity was a pleasure to watch. How Cook had got this performance out of the squad in only a week was incredible.

A good post match interview again impressed and the message was of moving on and looking forward to the league tie away at Bradford on Tuesday night. A tough fixture against a side having a very good season would provide a test. It was great to see him pick the same side that had played so well at the weekend, with the only enforced change being Sam Hird replacing the injured Liam Cooper.

I couldn’t make the game so a night in front of the PC and Spireites Player it was. In what sounded like a fairly solid performance ending in a 0-0 draw, another reason to be optimistic that the board have appointed the right man.

It’s obviously still early days in Paul Cook’s reign but the signs are promising. He talks a good game and has definitely had an impact in the short period of time he’s had to work with the squad. All we can hope for now is to see continued improvement and a climb up the league table to give us a chance of promotion. From what I’ve seen and heard, Captain Cook can sail the good ship Spireites towards League One, let’s hope there’s no icebergs lying in our way!

Written by Dean Mansell, We Are Going Up’s Chesterfield Blogger & editor of the Away End website.

Dean tweets at @awayend

You can purchase Dean’s book, “The Away End” from Amazon right here.