Cook hammers home ‘repetition’ message

Paul Cook
Paul Cook

Paul Cook admits he’s trying to maintain an even keel during Wigan Athletic’s eventful start to the season.

Latics enjoyed a storming first few weeks to the campaign, with a succession of opposition bosses tipping them for automatic promotion.

Then came their first defeat at Shrewsbury on September 9, which saw Cook and his men come in for their first real criticism.

Back-to-back wins over Charlton and Bristol Rovers have lifted Latics back into the play-off places, and another three points on Tuesday night in their game in hand against Northampton would see them climb to second.

Not that Cook is in any danger of getting carried away.

“As a manager, I always try to remain as steady as I possibly can,” he recognised.

“When you come in on a Monday, whether you’ve drawn against Portsmouth, lost at Shrewsbury, or beaten Bristol Rovers, the message 98 per cent of the time remains the same.

“It’s repetition in what you do, it’s repetition in what you believe in, it’s repetition of how the game should be played.

“If you can play like you want to play, the results usually take care of themselves.”

Successive 3-0 wins in the space of four days have underlined Wigan’s quality at both ends of the park, but Cook says they are far from the finished article just yet.

“I think in patches of every game we’ve shown how we’d like the game to be played,” he revealed.

“We want it to be an enjoyable watch for the fans, where players are breaking forward and creating plenty of chances.

“On the flip side of that, defensively we have to be sound.

“Sometimes that’s been my little gripe - where we have been attacking and certain lads have to stay responsible for their defensive duties.

“Those are the little things we look at on a regular basis, to keep the players on the toes, to keep reminding them of what might happen if something doesn’t go our way.

“Certainly at Shrewsbury that was the thing that bothered me the most - not the defeat, but the manner of the defeat.

“And when we’d watched the footage, heading into the Charlton game, we felt as a team we functioned a lot better.

“Obviously people will look at the result and think it’s easy to say that.

“But as a team we had a lot more solidity about us.”

Tuesday night’s game was scheduled to be played on September 2, with Latics electing to call off the game as they had three players away on international duty.

Since then, Northampton have picked up markedly under new boss Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, but Cook does not feel Latics could be made to pay for not playing the game on the original date.

“That argument doesn’t bother me to be fair,” added Cook.

“We’ll play anyone on any given night, I’m not that type of person.

“Obviously momentum is good - if we’d have beaten Northampton a fortnight ago we’d have been second now.

“We didn’t play, we dropped to whatever place it was in the table, and psychologically that would have had an effect.

“But by Tuesday night we’ll have played the same number of games we would have, and it’s still been a decent start whatever happens.

“Come the end of the season, everyone will have played everyone twice, and teams will finish where they deserve to.”