By Tony Leighton
Chesterfield manager Paul Cook took a swipe at his team's critics as he celebrated clinching automatic promotion and in the process reclaiming the Sky Bet League 2 top spot with a 2-0 win at Burton Albion on Sunday.
"I remember someone saying to me that we shouldn't try to pass our way out of this league," said Cook, who in his playing days was a classy midfielder, "but they're looking a bit silly now because we've done our best to do it the right way.
"We know we've done things wrong and we'd love to have more points and to win the league by a distance, but it's not that easy. What people don't realise is how hard it can be when teams set up to make it hard for us to pass and play.
"We've had a few bumps and bruises along the way and we've had to take a bit of criticism, but I've never had any diminishing faith in the players. I've always felt that this squad was good enough to be promoted and today it's all justified."
Cook has led the Spireites to League 1 promotion and to a Johnstone's Paint Trophy Final which they lost to Peterborough United in his first full season with the club after leaving Accrington Stanley to take over at the Proact Stadium in October 2012.
They have not been as consistent as Cook would have liked after a flying start to the season, but he pointed out after two goals by Jay O'Shea had brought victory at Burton: "We've only been out of the top three for one weekend all season.
"We're now seven league games unbeaten around the Johnstone's Paint Trophy final and I think it's about time my players got a massive pat on the back. They are a credit to themselves and the club and I'm so pleased for them."
Cook will be even more pleased if his players can go out and beat Fleetwood Town in their last match of the season, at the Proact Stadium next Saturday, and so end the campaign on a high as the Sky Bet 2 champions.
"We go into the last game of the season sitting on top of the league and I'm so proud to be managing this club," he said. "We're going into a bigger league now and we'll have to start as a club stepping up to that.
"I can make out tonight that I'm Jose Mourinho, but I'm just a normal football manager who'll make mistakes. But when you've got the honesty we've got and you try to show a bit of class, I think we're entitled to hold our heads up high."
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