Paul Cook is a local reporter’s dream.
Never shirks a question, happy to chew the fat about every topic, on and off the record, as long as he’s got a cup of tea in his hand.
One of his regular gripes during his 17 months in charge of Wigan Athletic has been the ridiculous, unnecessary stick given by opposition fans to players and managers.
“It’s sick the way the game’s going,” he once opined, after hearing a respected colleague hauled over the coals by presenters, pundits and callers on a well-known national radio station on his drive-in to the training ground.
Cook, of course, escaped all of that during a dream first season in charge at the DW Stadium, when he delivered the League One title and an immediate return to the Championship.
However, after a fine start to this term, Latics – and Cook – have found it much harder going in recent weeks.
Leading, for perhaps the first time, to some Latics ‘supporters’ to grumble about the job Cook is doing, and his ability – or lack of – to steer the club out of it.
Which even in this, the most results-driven industry of them all, is completely and utterly ludicrous.
Cook would be the first to admit four defeats in five matches since the last international break wasn’t the best return.
But there’s also a massive asterix against that run of results.
Firstly, in juries to the likes of Michael Jacobs, Gavin Massey, Will Grigg, Nick Powell and Chey Dunkley has robbed him of the spine that brought about much of the success last term.
Secondly, let’s have a look at the recent losses.
Josh Windass missed a penalty at Millwall which would have made it 2-0 to Latics before the hosts came back to win the game.
Sheffield United boss Chris Wilder admitted his side’s 4-2 win at Bramall Lane flattered the hosts hugely, while Leeds were gifted a winning goal and individual errors were also to blame for the 2-0 loss at Middlesbrough.
The international break came at the perfect time for Cook, with crunch clashes against Reading, Blackburn and Bolton up next.
Now’s not the time to throw tha baby out with the bath water – it’s time to get behind the manager and the players and, as Cook says, show them the difference between a fan and a supporter.
Tonight, Wayne Rooney will pick up his 120th and final England cap against the USA.
And instead of this being cause for universal celebration, some are attempting to discredit the idea.
“It is an honour to play for England – England should not have to honour you,” reckons Alan Shearer.
The same Shearer who was so ‘honoured’ to play for England that he quit international football SIX YEARS before finishing with his beloved Newcastle.
Peter Shilton, England’s all-time record appearance-holder with 125, says caps shouldn’t be ‘given out like gifts’. Personally I wouldn’t be against Rooney being ‘gifted’ another six caps, if only to eclipse the record of a man who only pops up every now and then to blame Diego Maradona for something.
Rooney is THE greatest goalscorer in England history.
He may not be playing at the highest level any more, but he’s shown over the last few months in the MLS that he’s still got it.
Gareth Southgate is right to want to look to the future, but he’s also right to believe Rooney deserves to say goodbye properly in front of a full house at Wembley.
Something other counties like Germany and Spain do as a matter of course to their retiring legends .
And I wouldn’t back against him finishing with a 54th England goal to extend his record even further.
Away from football, it was great to see the England rugby league side winning the recent series against New Zealand, despite losing the third Test at Elland Road last Sunday.
And it was very interesting to see skipper Sean O’Loughlin, who was injured in the first Test, refusing to go up and receive the Albert Baskerville Shield, presumably because he hadn’t felt he’d earned the honour.
Contrast that to John Terry who, after missing Chelsea’s Champions League win in 2012 through his own fault (banned), got changed after the game to pick up the trophy in full kit.
Chalk and cheese.
Fair play to Harry Redknapp for going into the jungle, which starts this weekend on ITV1.
Can’t wait to see him try to do a deal with Kiosk Keith for Niko Kranjcar using dingo dollars...
November 7: Shrewsbury Town chief executive Brian Caldwell hits out at a ‘horrible...malicious’ report by a journalist claiming manager John Askey was on his way, calling it a ‘total fabrication’ and a ‘pack of lies’.
November 12: John Askey sacked by Shrewsbury Town.