Paul Cook has revealed he ‘started to question my own sanity’ ahead of the demolition derby against Bolton that has breathed new life into Wigan Athletic’s campaign.
Latics had headed into the game on the back of three away defeats in a week that saw them slip to fourth-bottom of the Championship, out of the drop zone only on goal difference.
But goals from Joe Garner, Gavin Massey, Nick Powell, Michael Jacobs and Leon Clarke gave them a long-awaited first victory over the old enemy since December 2013.
And it swept away most of the ‘negative energy around the place’ Cook had slammed in his pre-match media.
“Managers come under pressure so quickly these days,” he acknowledged.
“Even this week some of the stuff you see, you start to question your own sanity.
“You give your life to this job, and we’ve had such a tough winter with personnel being missing.
“You see what Massey, Jacobs and Powell have done today - we haven’t had them players for so long.
“But the criticism has been free-flowing from some quarters...and that’s life.
“That’s what we’re supposed to be getting paid for.
“But the challenge for us has only ever been to stay in the division.
“Nowadays people want you to have stayed up by March - and we’re not capable of that.
“The last couple of times this club has been in this division, we’ve been relegated - with parachute money.
“We haven’t got parachute money any more, and this is a tough challenge in a tough division.
“The players, the staff, everyone stood up and gave a very solid performance.
“We’re not over the line yet. We haven’t got to where we want to be,
“But we’ve given an indication of what we’re capable of and, if we keep doing that at home, we’ll be okay.”
When asked whether the win - and especially the performance - gave him any vindication, Cook remained on the front foot.
“Managers will always get criticised, and I’m not someone who craves vindication or whatever,” he added.
“But what you’d like to think from supporters is a fair and understanding criticism.
“You expect more understanding from some quarters, especially quarters from within your structure that know your players.
“Outside of that, I understand there will be criticism, that’s football, it’s the job we’re in.
“To lose at Reading the way we did...I’m not being disrespectful, but to hear we capitulated, it isn’t fair.
“We had the flattest week you can imagine in football, but credit to the boys for responding in the best possible way.
“I’ve always had great faith in this group, that we can stay up.
“This is a massive step towards doing that, but there’s still a long way to go.”