Paul Cook is looking for Wigan Athletic to producing a rip-roaring performance first up at MK Dons this weekend – to exorcise the demons of relegation once and for all.
Latics get their League One campaign up and running at stadium:mk, aiming to bounce back from their second relegation from the Championship in the space of three seasons.
Of course, Latics managed to respond in the perfect manner two seasons ago when they lifted the League One title.
But Cook says in order to repeat that success, Latics have to eradicate any kind of negative feelings from last term as quickly as possible.
“I think when a team’s been relegated, there’ll always be a hangover from that – not just among the players but also among the supporters in general,” he said.
“Only time can heal certain stuff – regardless what football managers sit here and say.
“The reality is no-one knows what’s going to happen.
“All we can do is try to build a really positive working environment for the players, and hope the lads take the lead. I’m very happy with the way pre-season’s gone in general.
“The club is what I thought it was going be – the squad is too large, which can bring its own issues, but as a football club I think we’re in a great place.
“It’s time to build again. We’re in a position now where realistically we think we could be higher.
“But it’s important now we do the right things to bring success back to this club.”
It’s already been a busy week for Latics with the arrival of loan stars Lee Evans, Callum Elder and Ivan Toney, before free agent Noel Hunt put pen to paper on Thursday.
“Obviously there’s a few lads who have come and joined us this week,” Cook acknowledged.
“It’s always difficult when you’re trying to bring players in to a club, it’s all about timing – especially when you’re talking about loans from a higher division.
“That’s just the way football is now, but it can make things a little bit disruptive – especially when you’ve had lads playing in the team who might expect to be playing when the season starts, only for lads to come in and possibly take their place.
“The most important thing now is we get this club back on a footing where we’re all in it together. As a football club you’re always actively looking to make yourselves stronger.
“In football today everybody is looking for short-term success – that’s just the way the game is.
“At the two clubs I’ve previously been with (Chesterfield and Portsmouth), both for two seasons, we were in a similar situation.
“There’s no quick fix. It’s about hard work, getting out there on that training ground, about players being fit and strong and getting out there and doing their job properly.”
Cook also revealed there ws ‘no update’ regarding Max Power, Omar Bogle and Jack Byrne, who were placed on the transfer list last week.