Paul Cook wants his Wigan Athletic players to embrace any fear attached to this weekend’s massive six-pointer at relegation rivals Reading – and use it to their advantage.
Latics make the long trek down to Berkshire desperate for a positive result, or they risk dropping into the bottom three for the first this season.
With the campaign well into its final quarter, the pressure is being ramped up with every game.
But Cook says any strain he’s feeling is being taken as a plus!
“The good thing about the situation is the fact I’m agitated,” said the Latics boss.
“And when I’m agitated, it’s good – believe you me!
“It’s good, it’s enjoyable, it’s what you’re involved in the game for.
“The elation, the joy, the sense of achievement of staying in this league is what’s driving us forwards.”
When asked whether he would try to shield his players from such ‘agitation’, Cook’s response was incredibly revealing.
“I like the players to be agitated as well,” he insisted. “I like the fear!
“People go on about respecting the situation, but I think if you fear something, you do something about it.
“I remember a manager telling me years ago that you shouldn’t fear anything.
“But I enjoy it. I think it can be quite stimulating!
“That’s not to say I want the lads to fear Reading, or fear being relegated.
“I want them to feel the opposite side of fear...embrace it, and strive for the joy and the elation of what’s at the end.
“I know our fans will turn up on Saturday.
“We’ve got to make sure we turn up as well.
“We haven’t been in that bottom three all season.
“And we don’t intend on being in that bottom three any time soon.
“But I’m well aware that actions speak louder than words.”
Latics travel south looking to improve a quite dreadful away record that’s seen them win only once 19 matches on the road in all competitions, with 15 damaging defeats.
It’s something the manager is desperate to put an end to, to avoid the good work being done at the DW Stadium going to waste.
“Most teams’ form is there, it’s written down in black and white,” Cook acknowledged.
“Ours is alarmingly, glaringly in front of you.
“The home form is very good – the away form is not good enough.
“Can we put that right over the next few weeks? Hopefully we can.
“This time last year we were sitting on the cusp of promotion, and every game was massive.
“And it’s exactly the same this year, for totally different reasons.
“The crux of the matter is everything we want to achieve is there for us to achieve.
“A lot of it won’t come down to tactics or formations – it’ll come down to desire and spirit and how much we want it.
“How much do we want to deliver Championship football to this club and our fans?
“We’ll find out over the next few weeks.
“If we pick up points quickly, we will enjoy the last few games.
“If we don’t pick up points quickly, we won’t enjoy the last few games.
“I can’t put it any more simpler than that.”