Cook happy with form... but disappointed with discipline

Paul Cook faces a hectic schedule
Paul Cook faces a hectic schedule

Paul Cook has told his players to clean up their acts ahead of today’s DW Stadium showdown with Bristol Rovers.

Cook revealed he has spoken to his players about their discipline after seeing three of his players sent off in their opening six games.

Chey Dunkley was the most recent of their players to see red, in the last home game against Cook’s former club Portsmouth.

“Three sendings off is a big disappointment, we pride ourselves on discipline and respecting officials,” he said.

“We’ve spoken to the team at length, we don’t want to be a team with discipline issues.

“It’s something we want to rectify going forward.”

This afternoon’s game is the first of four home matches within Latics’ next five fixtures – and they are coming thick and fast.

The 3-0 win at Charlton was the first of three successive mid-week matches, limiting the time Cook has on the training pitch with his squad.

“It’s about rest and recovery, and making sure we’re fresh for the next game,” he added.

They headed to the Valley having not won in their previous two matches, but Cook said fans - and the media - should not confuse poor results with poor form.

“You have to be careful after you’ve lost a game, because in football you’re going to get beat, and you can end up looking for stuff which isn’t there,” he explained in his press conference at Latics’ Euxton training base.

“Some of the stats from Shrewsbury are absolutely amazing - the reason you lose sometimes is because that’s football. Sometimes the harder you try the worse you get.

“The way the question’s directed, ‘back to winning ways’... like we were on a bad run with you media guys.

“In football, you’re going to lose games. We will have dips in performances, it’s bound to happen, but you just keep going.

“The only league table which matters is on the final day.

“Along the way you’ll have games like we did against Portsmouth when you should take all three points and you don’t, and you’ll have games you’re quite fortuitous to win.

“We’ll lose more games you wouldn’t expect us to, but football has a way of working itself out.”

He clarified Will Grigg’s return to the side ahead of Ivan Toney in midweek was not in response to the defeat. “Ivan missed Sunday and Monday training, Will was ready to play,” he said, admitting he would have preferred to have stuck with the same line-up.

Grigg was replaced in the 78th minute by Max Power, who made his first league appearance of the season.

The 24-year-old was put on the transfer list earlier in the summer after expressing a desire to leave if he surfaced on the radar of a Championship club.

But the transfer window closed with Power still at Latics, and Cook said he wanted to draw a line under the saga - which his selection in midweek suggested they have done.

“People know now there’s no story there,” added Cook yesterday.

“He’s an integral member of our squad, he’s contracted here for two years I think, he’s a good lad, a bright lad around the place, a good player, and there’s no problems putting him in the team.”

Darrell Clarke has guided Rovers to successive promotions to earn widespread acclaim, and Cook expects fans at the DW Stadium are in for an exciting game.

“They can be a free-scoring team, and Darrell doesn’t set up too many times to be hard to beat, it has the makings of a good game,” added Cook.

“Darrell has done a great job there.”