John Coleman knows his friendship for Ipswich manager Paul Cook will be put to one side for 90 minutes on Saturday as Accrington Stanley look to get back to winning ways.
Former Reds boss Cook returns with the Tractorboys – and ex-Stanley defender Cameron Burgess – but is going through a devastating time following the death of his dad Chris recently.
Coleman, friends with Cook since they were young, knew Chris well and knows the struggle his mate is going through.
However, the Reds boss also knows football can be a distraction as they two teams come together on Saturday at the Wham Stadium.
Ipswich, in 19th placed, have picked up form of late after struggling at the start, unbeaten in three and they celebrated a 6-0 victory over Doncaster on Tuesday night.
Stanley, currently in 12th place, haven’t won in four league games and have conceded 12 goals in the last three encounters, including a 5-1 loss at Oxford on Tuesday night.
Coleman said: “It’s difficult for Paul. Chris was a lovely fellow, a gentleman, a great football person in Kirkby where we all grew up and people like that will be sorely missed.
“One of the beauties of our game is football can be a distraction and can take your mind off things for a bit.
“Paul will find out, as I found out when my dad died, that time can be a healer. His dad will want him to carry on and do well.”
As well as Cook being a former Accrington Stanley player and manager, his coaching staff consist of ex-Reds Gary Roberts, Franny Jeffers and Ian Craney.
“Paul knows all our staff, we know all his staff - probably most of his staff have played for Accrington!” said Coleman.
“It’s not a grudge match, so to speak. Historically when we play each other we don’t speak that week although we did do an EFL podcast on Thursday morning.
“What I know is that we won’t play Ipswich, who scored six mid-week, and park the bus. I would never do that, I would never do it to our fans, it’s not in my nature.
“I told Cooky six weeks ago he will get it right for when they play us! They have a good side, probably early on was a good time to play them when they were trying to gel but you play everyone at some point and bring it on.
“I know when we get it right we are a good side. We have let ourselves down the last couple of weeks. We have had no luck, we have had two goals on the bounce disallowed Saturday-Tuesday, which everyone can see they are good goals, but you have to keep working hard to make your luck change.
“We will be trying to win the game on Saturday, we will address the defending but you need to score goals to win games and it’s something Oxford did better than us on Tuesday.”
Coleman admits the defence is a worry with the Reds now on -7 goal difference – one of the worst in the league.
“You have to keep working hard, it sounds simple, it’s not an easy fix. Lots of things could have changed on Tuesday night that could have made that game totally different.
“It didn’t but we have to try and address the things we are doing wrong and try and put them right. We can only do that by watching the video and then going onto the training pitch and trying to practice and put ourselves into areas where we get into the right position, quicker and more often.
“It’s a concern when you concede goals. If you think from the start of the season we have had two of our main defenders out in Cameron Burgess and Harvey Rodgers so it’s not ideal but we weren’t getting carried away when we were second in the league and we won’t get carried away as we have lost a couple. We are desperate to win again, everything that has conspired against us has at the moment but what’s the alternative? Give up. We won’t do that.
“We have good coaching staff here and that’s what our jobs will be this week. We have a buoyant Ipswich coming here on Saturday but we love playing at home, we have a good home record, and we love playing the big teams at home.
“We look back at the 12 goals we have conceded in the last three games and out of them there has been nine individual mistakes by different people.
“You can’t cut that out as you can’t drop nine players. You have to keep trying to reinforce basics of defending and get back to trying to make your focus different.
“We don’t want to lose games, we hurt when we lose games, we hurt when we concede goals but we have got to put things into perspective sometimes, there is a life outside of football.”
Ross Sykes is suspended for Saturday after five yellow cards while Joe Pritchard and Joel Mumbongo are still out injured. Midfielder David Morgan is battling to be fit.
The full pre-match interview video with John Coleman is available to watch on the club's official YouTube channel, CLICK HERE to find out more!