Chesterfield manager Paul Cook has heated exchange with BBC reporter over 'negative' questions - full transcript

Chesterfield manager Paul Cook was involved in a heated exchange with a BBC reporter at Friday morning’s pre-match press conference ahead of the Woking match.

By Liam Norcliffe
Friday, 13th May 2022, 5:49 pm

The local media joined a Zoom call to ask Cook questions about Sunday’s fixture which could see the Spireites qualify for the play-offs if they avoid defeat.

Town were beaten 2-0 at Torquay United last Saturday and Cook decided not to speak to the media afterwards.

The loss was the Blues’ third on the bounce and they have only won two of their last nine.

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Chesterfield manager Paul Cook.

BBC Radio Sheffield’s Rob Staton was first up but Cook did not like Staton’s ‘negative’ line of questioning and the interview was eventually ended after five minutes.

Here is the full transcript...

Rob Staton: “Paul, why did the team put out what many see as an unacceptable performance against Torquay?

Paul Cook: “Sometimes as a manager you have to say things to appease everyone and keep everyone happy. I am quite sure our fans did not mean to go out and do that to our 850 travelling supporters. Probably in our best spell in the game, 70-odd minutes when it was 0-0, we were just looking like we might create a chance or two. We end up conceding and conceding again quick, very similar to Halifax away. There are a couple of really worry patterns there. Debating the negative side, guys, after this question I won’t do – there is just no point. The reality is we go into the final game of the season on Sunday with a chance to make our supporters smile and that is the biggest thing we must stay on at the minute.”

Staton: “Some fans have questioned the fight and desire of this group. As the manager, how do you explain that perceived lack of fight and desire to fans?

Cook: “Again, I just answered your first question which was a very negative one. Your second question is more negative than the first one. And your third one will probably be more negative than your second one. The truth is we put in a really, really low performance. It is now Friday, five days after that, so we need to let that go. So that will be the last question on Torquay, lack of fight, lack of anything, and we will speak about Woking on Sunday where we can win to go in the play-offs.”

Staton: “Fans have asked why you didn’t speak after the Torquay game, why there wasn’t any reaction after that performance, do you regret not doing any press after that game?

Cook: No, no. Why would I regret? I would have said a lot of things that would have made a lot of people on the pitch unhappy. And then the players would not have wanted to play the next week. So the reality for our supporters is they have got a period now which is tough, not just for the players, but for the manager as well. I am the leader of this group of players so we are all in together. There are no issues or problems with that. We have got 16 lads out of contract, you would think they are playing for their futures but, unfortunately for us, sometimes for us it looks like they probably aren’t playing for the future. But we have got to stay with it now. We go into this game on Sunday, as I say, with a chance to be in the play-offs. We can then go into a knockout sequence of events which can see you promoted. So, at the minute, no one knows how this story or this book ends. At the minute the story is not going very well for us at all but it can change a lot by Sunday and leading into next week.”

Staton: “Have you got a blood and guts type performance in this team and, if you have, will we see it this weekend?

Cook: “With the greatest respect, I can’t keep answering your negative questions, I physically can’t. I’ll tell you what we will do, we won’t turn up Sunday, we will give Woking the points and we might still be in the play-offs. Come on, can you put it away? I understand our supporters’ anger, I understand the frustrations. So either move on to the questions about Woking and the game or end the conversation.”

Staton: “I think fans expect some questions to be asked though don’t they, Paul?

Cook: “You have just asked five negative ones, how many more do you want to ask? You can’t physically keep asking negative questions. So if you want to speak about Woking and Sunday, which is what we haven’t spoken about yet, then great. If not, I have tried to answer some questions for you. I am not going to answer any more.”

Staton: “This is about your team, surely I am well within my rights to ask these questions because these are some of the questions that fans want asking?

Cook: “Yep. And you’ve asked four. I have told you I am not answering any more so either ask about Woking or end the conversation. It is up to you.”

Staton: “If you don’t want to answer the questions that is your choice but I have to ask them.

Cook: “I have just told you. You might as well end the conversation. I would rather speak about Woking on Sunday, and some optimism, and some positivity, rather than the negativity than you continue to ask me.”

Staton: “It is not your choice what questions I ask though, is it?

Cook: “It is my choice whether I sit and listen and carry on listening.”

Staton: “That is correct. Have you got 100 per cent buy-in from these players you inherited Paul and, if you we are being honest, have you been convinced by them either?

Cook: “No, that is nothing to do with the Woking game on Sunday so either ask about Woking or I will be ending the interview, it is up to yourself.”

Staton: Are the players not capable of playing the way that you want them to play?

Cook to Nick Johnson (Chesterfield FC press officer): “Nick, can you just end the interview for us please? I have answered him enough. He is not changing his direction of questions. He is happy going in his direction. Unfortunately you don’t want to speak about Woking, do you?”

Staton: “I am going to ask the questions that I think need to be asked.

Cook: “No problem. There is no need for me to carry on with the interview. Thank you for your time on that one.”

Nick: Rob, do you want to ask about Woking?

Staton: “I want to ask the questions that I want to ask, Nick. It’s a press conference for us to ask questions.

Cook: “Rob, we have got no problem with your questions. We will be ending this interview now and moving on to the next one. Thank you very much for your help, Rob.”