Chesterfield: Spireites boss sticking by his principles

Manager Paul Smith gives his team directions during the second half
Manager Paul Smith gives his team directions during the second half

Chesterfield boss Paul Cook insists he will not abandon his principles as he prepares his players for life in League One.

The Spireites received widespread acclaim last season for the way Cook and his coaching staff set up the team to approach games.

A slick passing-style became synonymous with the blue shirts from north Derbyshire as they took League Two by storm.

After promotion was secured at Burton Albion, Cook revealed he was once told that ‘you can’t pass your way out of this league’.

But, having reached a Wembley final and marched to the title, he has no intentions of fixing something he feels isn’t broken.

Cook said: “You have got to have belief in what you do. It’s a safety thing not to pass, when you want to get the ball forward quickly it’s because you’re not confident in what you’re doing.

“We want to win football games and we want to play the right way. How you get out of leagues is irrelevant. I look back on that piece of advice and think it wasn’t a very good piece of advice.”

Chesterfield faced higher league opposition last season in the form of Leeds United in the League Cup, Oldham Athletic in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy followed by Peterborough United in the final of the same competition.

He added: “We’re going to play next season.”

The Spireites players and management arrived back from their pre-season training camp in Portugal on Monday and had Tuesday off.

The club arranged the same trip last year in what proved to be the first steps in preparation for a title winning season.

A rigorous pre-season programme had been drawn up for when the players returned, which began yesterday (Wednesday).

Having experienced more highs than lows last season, Cook is acutely aware it will be a hard act to follow.

“You keep trying to get better every day, it’s what I’ve been doing every day since I’ve come into the club,” he said.

“Every day is a working day and the sign of progression of the club is signing players, but it’s also about your staff.

“Your staff and what they’re doing to try and better the players you have at your club. I’m very happy at the club.”

Cook, who joined the Spireites in October 2012 from Accrington Stanley, said the stability will benefit the club.

“I’ve been here for the last 18 months or so, my initial period is over, I’m firmly embedded as the manager of the club.

“Initially people may question the decisions you make and what formations you play but I think we’re over that now.

“We can look forward to an exciting season with our fans right behind us against some good opposition.

“There were low points last season, especially when we were coming home from Accrington, Wycombe and Morecambe.

“What I do know is that we will get beat and what supporters need to know is that no team wins every game.

“We’ll certainly try but no teams win every home game, the important thing is that over time your success can be judged.

“And last season, after 46 games, we were judged to be the best team in the league,” said the 47-year-old.

In preparing his squad for the step up in divisions, Cook has wasted no time in signing Danny Jones, Charlie Raglan and Charlie Dawes.

The club remain in the market for further additions to help strengthen their squad but have found it harder than last summer, when the large portion of their recruits were in place before pre-season.

But Cook remains patient. He said: “The right ones haven’t come to us yet, I’ll keep patient as I am. The season doesn’t even start for another seven weeks.

“Any manager can go and sign players, if we’d have made four or five signings by now everyone would be happy. If those four or five signings aren’t the correct ones, by Christmas they’d have me in trouble.”