Paul Cook could not disguise his ‘surprise’ after Wigan Athletic’s ‘poorest performance of the season’ saw them crash 3-1 at Southend.
Latics were behind inside three minutes thanks to Michael Turner’s close-range header, and ex-Wigan striker Marc-Antoine Fortune doubled the Southend lead just before half-time.
Substitute James Vaughan pulled one back for Latics midway through the second half - his first goal for the club - but Michael Kightly killed off any hopes of a comeback seven minutes from the end.
“I am surprised at the manner of the defeat,” Cook acknowledged.
“In the first half, especially, we were second best all over the pitch.
“What I will say is these lads have been terrific for me all season.
“But it’s no use me saying this, that or the other.
“We were second best for once this season, and Southend deserved to win the game.
“We move on to the next game, that’s the nature of football.”
The Latics boss was struggling to find any positives after surrendering a 16-game unbeaten run.
“There were no positives not one...actually Vaughan scoring a goal, that was the only one,” Cook mused.
“The fans were also fantastic, they gave us great support once again.
“But that’s as poor as we’ve been all season.
“I know that, and the lads know that.
“They’ve been an absolute credit to themselves, to me and to the club all season.
“Hopefully we can pick ourselves up and bounce back on Tuesday night against Blackpool.
“You don’t have time to get disappointed about defeats like this, because there’s always another game around the corner.”
Wigan’s afternoon was summed up in the seven added minutes at the end, when striker Vaughan was manhandled in the air for a stonewall penalty as he tried to get to Nathan Byrne’s cross, only for referee Andy Woolmer to inexplicably wave play on.
“Referees have got to get in control of games, and the officials were never in control of this one,” added Cook.
“You could see that with all the time-wasting as well.
“But that’s not why we lost the game.
“I told the referee at half-time they were the problem, but I quickly realised they weren’t.
“It was my team that was the problem, not the officials, and that’s why we lost the game.”