Cook: 'Oxford set up in a way we enjoy'
Paul Cook admitted Oxford United played right into the hands of Wigan Athletic by attempting to go toe-to-toe with the League One leaders.
Latics recorded their biggest-ever win as a Football League side, 7-0 at the Kassam Stadium, with a near-faultless performance from start to finish.
Will Grigg opened the scoring inside 11 minutes, with Nick Powell and Gavin Massey making it 3-0 by half-time.
Grigg completed his hat-trick - and completed a century of career goals - before being replaced by Ivan Toney, with fellow substitute Max Power adding the other two goals.
And Cook could not hide his delight at the way his side had made it an impressive 51 points from their 22 matches played.
“That’s a lovely stat, but on days like this you must always respect the opposition,” the Latics boss recognised.
“It was a great day for us, we looked a very good team, but everything’s gone our way.
“Oxford kept us dead honest in the game, and kept us working hard.
“We’ve all been on the opposite end of that as managers and players, and we have to be quite respectful to them.
“Our players deserve all the plaudits today, and you can’t let a scoreline like that go by without pouring out the praise.
“Everything we did out there was everything I like about the game...but there’s a long way to go.”
Oxford paid a high price for being one of the few sides to have tried to take on Latics in a footballing encounter.
“Oxford set up in a way that we enjoy,” Cook acknowledged.
“Football is all about formations and systems, and when you get a certain style against you, that can happen.
“We get frustrated at times with the opposite side of the game, and I think our fans sometimes have to realise that.
“There’s two teams on the pitch at all times, and if one team is intent in not playing - and that wasn’t Oxford today - it can be a lot harder.
“Fortunately it’s gone our way today, and you will get days like that.
“To play football the way Oxford did today takes a bit of bravery, and it didn’t work for them on the day.”
Although second-placed Shrewsbury - Wigan’s Boxing Day visitors - also won to stay four points adrift, third-placed Blackburn drew at Northampton to slip seven points off the pace.
Not that Cook is paying too much attention to that.
“I don’t work like that - if you have that in your head, you will go wrong,” he said.
“We just have to keep going with what we’re doing, because our habits will get us home.
“Next up is Shrewsbury, and it’s a great game to look forward to.
“It will be a very good game, two very different styles of football.
“Paul Hurst’s done a fantastic job done there, at the halfway point of the season, but he’ll know - like we do - that there’s a long way to go yet.”