Cook the man with the plan - A or B!
Paul Cook has revealed Wigan Athletic have a '˜Plan B' ready and waiting to get the job done - if ever their '˜Plan A' isn't working.
Latics have already shown their adaptability this term, with free-flowing wins over Bury and Charlton being complimented by hard-fought victories over Northampton and Plymouth.
In midweek against the Pilgrims, Latics only made the breakthrough when Ivan Toney replaced Will Grigg up top, leading a slightly more direct game-plan, which helped pave the way for Nick Powell’s late penalty winner.
And Cook says the side has to be open to change if and when the situation arises.
“I agree with a ‘Plan B’, but let’s not forget ‘Plan B’ is 90 per cent of the time radically away from ‘Plan A’,” the Latics boss acknowledged.
“And therein lies the problem! Going from ‘Plan A’ to ‘Plan B’ sometimes results in you losing games you are trying to win from a drawing position.
“So you must be careful for what you wish for.
“The most important thing to do in those situations is not to lose your discipline, or your shape.
“You certainly have a ‘Plan B’ – crosses in the box, more penetration, more physicality – and the ability in the squad of being able to go to that is huge.
“But it’s something that needs to be built into the squad as we’re going along – and it’s not as easy as some people think.”
Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp has been one boss accused of not having a ‘Plan B’ this term, in what has become a fashionable criticism.
“I think it’s in vogue at the moment, very much so,” recognised Cook.
“Managers are quickly accused of not having a ‘Plan B’ to go to.
“But if ‘Plan A’ isn’t working, what guarantee is there that ‘Plan B’ will work?
“Of course you have to be as adaptable as you can be.
“The hardest thing is to play against deep-lying teams, who sit off and want to counter-attack.
“You give the ball away at your peril, because they attack the gaps you are leaving, and hurt you with pace.
“The most important thing is to remain patient and well-drilled in what we’re doing.
“Ivan came on for Will the other night, and for the first time we won an aggressive header off Nathan Byrne’s cross.
“So we have been working on ‘Plan B’ – and Ivan gives us a different option to Griggy.
“For me, we could play two up front, but we’d also lose our strength in dominating the ball.
“Maybe we could go to ‘Plan B’ a bit more - but ‘Plan A’ is doing all right so far!”
Cook has also revealed there is one part of his lay-out that is non-nogotiable.
“The way I like to play the game, I like four defenders – the two centre-halves and the two holding midfielders,” he added.
“Around that, the rest of the team are trying to get us a goal, and those four are keeping the solidity of the team.
“There’s loads of ways of playing the game, but that leaves enough attackers out there to score and goal and win you the game.”