The 12th Man Column: Nothing for us to fear in League One as we have the right man in boss Cook

I'm pleased to say that Paul Cook was my first choice for the Latics manager's job.

Friday, 2nd June 2017, 10:00 am
Updated Sunday, 4th June 2017, 9:15 pm
Paul Cook in his Latics playing days

Of the candidates available I believe he has the right profile for a club which is trying to rebuild itself after relegation from the Championship.

Cook fits the bill in several key areas.

Firstly he wants to be based in the North West and has strong Wigan connections having played nearly 100 games for the club and featured in the squad which reached the FA Cup quarter-final in 1987.

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Secondly, as Portsmouth and Chesterfield manager he has a strong track record of success leading both teams to the League Two title. He knows the lower divisions very well but he has also played at the top level in the Premier League with Coventry City.

Thirdly, he plays football in the right way. He coaches possession based football and says that exciting the supporters is of paramount importance. Cook says he wants to attack, pass the ball well, go forwards quickly and excite the fans. If he can achieve that, he will certainly be a great improvement on the likes of Warren Joyce, Malky Mackay and Owen Coyle.

Cook certainly has the potential to be successful, like another Liverpudlian Paul Jewell who led the club from the third tier to the Premier League between 2001 and 2005, but only time will tell if he can reach those heady heights.

Ian Aspinall

Boxes ticked

So Paul Cook is finally the new Wigan Athletic manager despite the vicious backlash from many Portsmouth fans on Twitter.

We had to get this appointment right and I believe we have done that with Cook because he ticks all the boxes.

First and foremost, he’s an ex-Latics player, but add to that the fact he’s just won League Two with Pompey and he previously took Chesterfield to the League One play-offs with a tight budget – something we have to deal with this season.

It’s also been noted that Cook likes to play possession-based attacking football, which suits the style that chairman David Sharpe wants his managers to play a-la Roberto Martinez and, more recently, Gary Caldwell.

Finally, and this is something we’ve needed for a long time, Cook will be allowed to bring in his own backroom staff.

That isn’t a discredit to Graham Barrow who left earlier this week.

I’d just like to finish by saying what a great servant Barrow has been for the club. Loyalty is scare in football these days he’s done en excellent job as a player, coach and manager over the years.

Kieran Makin

Sharpe appointment

“Got the man we wanted,” so said David Sharpe as he unveiled Paul Cook on Wednesday afternoon, it’s open to debate whether Cook actually was the man we wanted. If rumours are to be believed there were some above Cook on that list, but if Cook wasn’t necessarily our first choice increasingly he looks like the right choice.

An ex-Wigan player revered by those who saw him play in the 80s, a manager who has an excellent track record in the lower leagues, someone with a clear philosophy and a clear idea of how his teams should play. A successful manager with a habit of winning and developing players. Cook is probably the kind of manager that we should have targeted to replace Gary Caldwell.

He certainly would have been a better option than Warren Joyce, even if Cook wasn’t our first choice his appointment makes a lot of sense and for the first time in a long while he should have the full support of all of the Wigan Athletic fanbase – well until August at least.

The amount of anger coming from the South Coast and the Pompey fans who have lost their manager tells you all you need to know, despite what those Portsmouth fans would have you believe they’re clearly disappointed to lose a manager who had got them promoted back to League One this season. It’s probably a surprise as well considering he said he would only leave Portsmouth if he was forced out, there’s two ways of looking that. Obviously Wigan Athletic offered him an attractive package and he clearly sees his future better served back in the North West than on the South Coast.

What can we expect from Cook and his team next season? Both Cook and Sharpe spoke confidently on Wednesday about keeping the bulk of the squad together, that’s important. There’ll naturally be movement and changes in the squad but for the first time for a few seasons the squad shouldn’t need a major overhaul. Crucially the squad should be able to fit in to Cook’s style of play and philosophy, that wasn’t the case under Warren Joyce.

It’s very early days, but for the first time in a long while it feels like we’ve given a bit of thought to our managerial approach. As one club legend arrives one departs, I was disappointed to see Graham Barrow leave the club earlier this week and thought there may have been a space for him alongside his old team mate in a new managerial structure. Although it’s probably the right time for Graham to move on, we should remember what he has contributed to Latics in three separate spells. He’s been a constant presence at the club since Roberto took over and has served the club fantastically well ever since he arrived as a player in


Things will no doubt quieten down now until pre-season training begins in a few weeks’ time. I said last season that League One shouldn’t hold any fears for Latics. We’ve been there before and been successful and we can do so again. Hopefully Paul Cook can help us to be as successful as we were the last time we were in this division.

Sean Livesey

Cooks in

As Wigan Athletic’s quest to fill their entire staff room with Cooks [sic] continues, an old acquaintance examines potential summer signings.

Salutations, chums. They call me Nosey Barstool, part time private investigator and full time member of the Zoot Suit Fan Club since 1946. I don’t know why they call me that, since my actual name is Lum Bago and I’m a chiropractor at Higher Ince General Hospital.

Nonetheless, I was assigned the task of identifying possible transfer targets on behalf of Wigan’s ever-growing cabinet of Cooks. By whom I shall not say, for they are presently holding my contract over a paper shredder. It might be worth as little as £25, but I need that for my bus fare home.

Anyway, having conducted extensive research with my Encarta ’98 CD-ROM encyclopedia and the adult section at Beech Hill Book Cycle, I have narrowed down Paul Cook’s wish list to the following likely options:

Alastair Cook – the England cricketer was born on Christmas Day, so there’s no danger of him ‘throwing a sickie’ on his birthday. According to my calculations, this will save the club £108.40 per year. But it will also cost them £100,000 in wages for a glorified ball shiner.

Robin Cook. [This entry has been deleted in the interests of political neutrality. Additionally, I vow to poke with a sharp stick the next person that makes a ‘left wing man’ joke. – Ed.]

Dane Cook & Peter Cook – not because they’re undoubtedly hilarious individuals, but because it’s funny to see an Englishman and an American fight over whether the ‘hometeam’ should be listed first or second.

Captain James Cook – won’t actually be able to play due to his commitments in Australia, Hawaii and Polynesia. And Kerguelen, Egypt and the West Indies. But at least he can watch every game via the EPL’s new overseas web streaming service.

Steve Cook – the Bournemouth defender has considerable experience at League One level and above.

Can play centre back or right back and chips in with the odd goal.

Hold on, chums – those scoundrels have just dipped my contract into the shredder. Next time I’ll think twice about including ‘wild cards’ such as that last entry. Needless to say, my involvement in this matter ends with immediate effect.

l Nosey Barstool, somewhere within a £25 travel radius of Wigan, 31 May 2017

PS. Err… can anyone give me a lift home?

Dan Farrimond

New menu will be satisfying

Redemption. That’s what I’m hoping is going to be on the menu at the DW next season, perhaps served the traditional way as a pie filling. If history is indeed repeating itself then after a disaster of a season in the Championship, the club have hopefully appointed the right man to get us back up there.

I think the most important thing of all is that we stick with Paul Cook, no matter what. We’ve sacked managers hastily, even managers who have delivered results just a few months earlier and replaced them with no better. I hope Cookie does get off to a flyer but if for whatever reason he doesn’t then we need to stick by him and not be overly critical. Everybody makes mistakes, even the uber critical online element of Wigan Athletic fans whom are usually the first to leap on anything the manager does (or fails to do).

I like the fact we have pushed the boat out with Paul Cook, it shows that we intend to have a real go at things next year, and he is a much stronger candidate than I thought we could land given some of the names bandied about. I hope he can go on to be our manager for a number of years and achieve great things.

As for how he will go about it, well he talks of setting his team up to attack but also believes in possession football and that is music to my ears at least. We seem to have had two camps over the past few years. Those fans who find possession football boring and error prone and prefer to see a more direct style implemented by a tracksuit (or shorts-wearing manager) and those who like to watch us play a good passing game, and sticking to defined principles, even if it doesn’t always work.

Hopefully the arrival of Cook will see a merging of the two conflicting camps, maybe we can even do a deal. Those who have been critical in the past of a passing game will accept that this style has given us all our success and big results over recent years (because it has!) and therefore this is the correct philosophy. And those of us who do like to see patient passing will perhaps promise not to be offended by the sight of Paul Cook’s knees. The perfect compromise!

Seriously, there is a happy medium to be found which will give us a style of play where we do dominate possession but also creates plenty of attacking chances.

Possession is worthless if it fails to create opportunities but aimlessly hoofing it long and sitting back and letting the opposition have the ball is also utterly pointless, as we saw for much of last season. We want to watch our team playing football surely not the other team!

The early signs from Paul’s initially interviews are that he fully gets this.

An interesting summer lies ahead in terms of recruitment, in and out but this is not a squad that needs a major overhaul. Cook will take a look at what he has, sell one or two at the right price maybe and use that to fund a few select players to strengthen in the right areas.

Whatever happens next year, the appointment of a new manager (at last) has certainly ignited a bit of excitement for the forthcoming season and I am looking forward immensely to seeing just what Paul Cook can do for us.

Martin Tarbuck