“If any Wigan fan throws a cabbage at me, there’ll be trouble!”
That’s the message from Wigan Athletic manager Paul Cook, leaping to the defence of Steve Bruce, who was sacked this week by Aston Villa.
Bruce’s final game in charge was Tuesday night’s 3-3 draw against Preston, whom Latics face this weekend.
The ex-Latics boss had been subjected to increasingly hostile abuse in recent weeks, which came to a head in midweek when one Villa ‘fan’ launched a cabbage in his direction.
And Cook says enough is enough.
“As a manager, I can only canvas for fellow managers,” Cook told the Wigan Post.
“If Aston Villa score that stoppage-time penalty against Preston (instead of it being saved), they are fifth in the table. Would the fans be happy? Yes.
“So that missed penalty has effectively cost Steve Bruce his job. And that’s not good for the game is it?
“The next manager who goes into Villa will be dealing with that pressure.
“That’s what football has created, and for us managers...we’re not fighting it, but we must challenge it, because that’s the way it is these days.
“Is it something like six promotions Steve Bruce has on his cv?
“And now Aston Villa are looking for someone to get them promoted?
“Good luck with that one!
“If Aston Villa fans want change, they will get change, and you have to respect that.
“But at the same time, in the pursuit of change, you have to be careful where you’re taking the club – and that’s the truth.
“Look, I’m not a Villa season-ticket holder, I’m only sat here with my views.
“But when you have a manager like Steve Bruce...dealing with the difficulties they’ve had off the field...surely giving him support and strength would be better than what they’ve done.
“That’s up to Aston Villa though. I’ve got enough problems here to worry about!”
Cook feels the level of personal abuse that managers – and players – are getting these days has well and truly crossed the line.
“If any Wigan fan throws a cabbage at me, there’ll be trouble!” he laughed.
“But that’s football today it seems.
“What is the definition of a supporter? And I think that’s a fair question for a manager to ask.
“Over the last 10 years, I think that definition has changed.
“And I think sometimes fans have to got to police fellow fans – why not?
“What is a Wigan supporter going to the game this weekend for?
“In my opinion, it’s to get behind their team, support their team, and hopefully have a great day out and win.
“When do you need that support the most? When you’re not doing well!
“I’m talking generally here, not about Wigan supporters, but too many players and managers are getting abused.
“And people think that’s going to make us successful? Come on.
“Supporting your club is an honour, and you’ve got to take pride in that.
“It’s not about turning on your players and you manager every week.
“That’s for the powers-that-be to decide how to run the club.
“Nowadays it seems we’ve created an environment – with social media, Talksport, all that stuff – where anarchy rules.
“Where we’re going with all this, God only knows.”
Players receiving ‘feedback’ from fans is nothing new of course, going back to when Cook was a youngster with Latics in the 1980s.
“Ha it was like that at Springfield Park...and you could hear them...without a doubt!” he laughed.
“They were only three yards away, leaning over the barriers!”