Paul Cook admitted a ‘massively disappointing’ yellow card for Sam Morsy - which rules him out of next Monday’s FA Cup fifth-round tie against Manchester City - summed up a thoroughly miserable night for Wigan Athletic that saw them lose top spot in League One thanks to a 2-0 home defeat to Blackpool.
Hoping to bounce back from Saturday’s 3-1 setback at Southend, Latics recorded back-to-back defeats for the first time under Cook without so much as landing a punch on the struggling Seasiders.
Armand Gnanduillet gave Blackpool the perfect start inside three minutes, with Kelvin Mellor making it two towards the end of the first half.
And Wigan’s misery was compounded two minutes from time when skipper Morsy was yellow-carded for an innocuous-looking challenge in midfield that will have far-reaching consequences.
“It’s massively disappointing for Sam,” acknowledged Cook.
“I don’t really want to comment on the booking, because I genuinely don’t feel it was a booking.
“I think the player involved, the opposition player, went down and rolled around on the floor when there was no contact.
“It was the player’s reaction that got Sam booked, but that’s football.
“If their player thinks he’s done well in getting Sam booked, and missing the Manchester City game, and that’s professionalism...that’s all well and good.”
True to form, Cook refused to sugar-coat the defeat, which allows Shrewsbury to take a one-point lead at the summit, albeit having played a game more.
“We just didn’t play well, did we?” the Latics boss mused.
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen us give the ball away as much.
“From there we can go on and on, and the anxiety reaches out into the crowd - and that’s football.
“We’ve seen it time and again over the years, and one thing I’ve learned over the years is that those players need massive support.
“The biggest thing I can do as a manager is to keep supporting them, because they’ve set the bar so high.
“Unfortunately, when they fall just below it, everyone is disappointed.
“I’m as disappointed as the next man, and the players are just as disappointed.
“But great credit to Blackpool, who have deserved to win the game.”
Cook’s decision to make only one change - Reece James for Callum Elder - was designed to show faith with the players who’d got the side into such a good position.
But the manager admitted he may not do the same thing again given similar circumstances.
“The thing with hindsight is it’s a wonderful thing,” he added.
“The team got put on its pants on Saturday, and this was a great chance to get back up and stay on top of the league.
“I’ve been loyal to the players, but in hindsight I maybe should have made changes.”