I'd take FA Cup glory over promotion - Wigan Athletic boss!
Winning the FA Cup or winning promotion from League One?
It’s a question Latics fans have been asking among themselves since the shock victory over Premier League champions-elect Manchester City in the fifth round.
Now, on the eve of the quarter-final showdown against Southampton, Latics boss Paul Cook has revealed his preference – and it may surprise a few people.
“Somebody asked me before whether I could take winning promotion or winning the FA Cup...what would I choose,” remarked Cook.
“And I think I would take winning the FA Cup!
“If it was getting to the semi-final at Wembley or promotion, yes I’d take promotion.
“But if we’re talking about winning the thing...”
Winning the thing is exactly what Latics did five seasons ago, the same week they fell out of the Premier League after eight years among the elite.
But would Latics repeating the trick this time – as a third-tier side – blow that win out of the water?
“I think that would be for other people to say,” assessed Cook, who was a Latics player the first time the club reached the last eight of this competition, back in 1986/87.
“As a manager I don’t overly want to talk about how well we’re doing and what a great achievement it is.
“I think we have to go and win the game and, if we manage to do that, then people could speak about the sense of achievement.
“If we do manage to get through, I do believe there will be a sense of achievement.
“I don’t feel there’s a sense of achievement to date.
“Albeit, we have done smashing, we have won some games, but that’s the FA Cup.
“I think if we could manage to get to the semi-finals, as a League One team, I do think that would be a sense of achievement.
“I’m not trying to play down what we’ve done, I’m not trying to be clever.
“But there have always been cup shocks over the years. That’s the history of football. But for a League One side to get to the semi-final, that would be a very, very good achievement.”
If they are to beat Southampton, Latics will have to do it without Nick Powell, who has been ruled out with a hamstring strain suffered in the midweek win at Bradford that sent Latics back up to second in League One.
However, just as suspended skipper Sam Morsy was invited into the dressing room before the City win in the last round, Powell will also have a non-playing part to play this weekend.
“Nick’s Nick,” added Cook. “He’s a very competitive lad, who wants to win desperately.
“To not be involved in a big game like this, he’ll obviously be down. But he’ll be with us on the day...without a shadow of a doubt. You want all of your big players involved in whatever role possible, and he fits into that category.
“Nick’s probably played more games this year than he ever has, and we’re very appreciative of how he’s been managed by our medical staff.
“As everyone knows, he’s an outstanding talent, and we’re very pleased to have had him available for so many games this year.”