Talking football: Cook following in pretty decent footsteps

Paul Cook
Paul Cook

Well it’s so far so good for Latics and Paul Cook.

Played two, won two.

In doing so Cook has become the first Latics boss this century to win his first two matches in charge.

The last was John Benson in 1999 for those anoraks, like me, out there.

It’s fair to say the manner of the performance at MK Dons on Saturday was far more convincing, more emphatic, than in midweek against Blackpool.

But with Cook starting 22 different players in both games, he can be forgiven for a lack of fluidity.

Credit Cook for wanting to give as many players in the squad chance to stake their claim for a first-team spot.

To be fair, there weren’t many of them who could argue about having to prove themselves all over again after what happened last season.

But the arrival of the new boss has meant a clean slate for everyone, with no hangover or ill-feeling remaining from last term.

It hasn’t been the easiest of starts for Cook, who’s offloaded seven players and brought in nine new-boys – without expending a penny in the process.

With the loss of parachute payments this summer, the financial landscape has changed greatly at the club.

But the quality in the squad remains, and I would certainly argue it’s as good as there is in League One.

The challenge now is to get to the end of the transfer window with that squad intact – or as intact as can be. If that can be achieved, I can see Cook keeping his successful start going.

And who knows, maybe even going some way to following in the footsteps of another tough-talking no-nonsense scouser called Paul...who didn’t half do a bad job in the Latics hotseat...

When Lee Nicholls was named on the MK Dons team sheet last week, it was inevitable he was going to have a ‘worldie’.

And the only reason Latics didn’t return north with an even greater winning margin was an inspired display by their former custodian.

It’s not just the benefit of hindsight, but I always felt Latics offloaded Nicholls far too prematurely this time last year.

Okay, his final appearance in Wigan colours – the 4-1 home defeat to Barnsley – wasn’t a glorious way to bid farewell.

But the rest of the team also failed to cover itself in glory that day, possibly having been out on the pop all week to celebrate winning promotion.

The problem was Nicholls was in goal and, unlike most of the guys in front of him, didn’t have as much ‘insurance’ in the bank in terms of quality displays throughout the year.

We’re always told goalkeepers mature far later than players in every other position.

At just 24, Nicholls has 10-15 years ahead of him to reach his prime.

I wouldn’t bet against him coming back to bite Latics on the backside at least one more time during that time.

It’s been another summer of movement at Wigan, with nine players coming in and Kaiyne Woolery this week becoming the seventh player to depart.

The £350,000 transfer fee that League Two Swindon Town paid for Woolery will certainly have raised eyebrows.

Remember, Latics only paid Bolton around £100,000 for his services last summer, since when he only made one substitute appearance in a blue and a white shirt.

It’s all swings and roundabouts of course – you win some, you lose some.

Martyn Waghorn’s £1million move from Rangers to Ipswich this week is another that caught the attention.

Especially since the Gers paid only peanuts to take the forward from Wigan two years ago.

After top-level discussions behind the scenes, Wigan Athletic’s visit of Portsmouth on August 26 will not be moved to accommodate the Challenge Cup final.

I understand why some Latics fans were angered at even the thought of a switch.

And logistically, with Portsmouth fans coming so far, it was a complete non-starter.

But I commend the club for at least looking into the issue, on behalf of the fans – and stadium staff – who take pride in both of our town’s teams.

While following the rest of the Football League campaign on Twitter last Saturday, came news of an interesting incident before the Fleetwood-Rotherham game.

“Fleetwood boss Uwe Rosler has refused to shake hands with Rotherham goalkeeping coach Mike Pollitt,” came the word.

Rosler attempted to laugh it off after the game but truth – as if we needed it – that all certainly was not well in the Latics camp during that tortuous campaign three years ago.

One of my favourite stories of the week was news Fulham striker Aboubakar Kamara has chosen the shirt No.47, just so he can be known as AK-47.

Brilliant.

But I won’t rest until Tottenham have handed Harry Winks the No.40 shirt...

Meanwhile, Brighton this week signed Davy Propper from PSV Eindhoven for £10m.

All we need now is them to sign former Chelsea academy star Nortei Nortei...

“You dirty northern b*****d”, shouted the MK Dons fans in direction of Callum Elder, following the new-boy’s sending-off at the weekend.

A common terrace chant over the years, of course.

However, one I fear may have been lost on young Callum, who hails from Manly, just north of Sydney, Australia.