“I’ll never turn on my team, I’m not a manager who does that, I don’t think it’s right.”
The words of Wigan Athletic boss Paul Cook, after his side crashed 4-2 at Sheffield United to slip further down the Championship table.
Despite boasting the best home record in the division, Latics have now lost seven of their eight matches on the road this term.
It was never going to be easy at Bramall Lane, against a Blades side looking to go back to the top of the league.
But a nightmare defensive display put paid to any hopes the visitors had of leaving with anything.
“Sheffield United are, in my opinion, the outstanding team in the division,” opined Cook.
“Other teams may have better individual players, but they are the best team out there for me.
“They work so hard for each other, they mix it up so well, as well as play football with the best of them.
“I firmly believe if any team finishes above Sheffield United they will be getting promoted.
“We knew how difficult it would be coming here - but unfortunately they didn’t have to do too much to win the game.
“You come to places like this, you have great opportunities in the game, you get into good areas, you do all the things an away team has to do, but at the minute...
“I’ll never turn on my team, I’m not a manager who does that, I don’t think it’s right.
“This is a very unforgiving league, but at the minute teams are scoring goals against us without having to work too hard for them.
“And that’s the most disappointing thing at the moment.”
Cook was asked again about the alarming disparity between the home and away record, but pointed the finger of blame instead at avoidable mistakes at the back.
“If we want to improve our away form, we’ll have to defend a lot better than we have today,” he assessed.
“To pick up results at this level, you have to play well at both ends of the pitch.
“There was certainly one end today we didn’t play well.”
Latics lost Gary Roberts in the first half with a hamstring problem, only for his replacement, Kal Naismith, to net within two minutes of coming on.
The away end had been chanting for Callum McManaman to be the early change, but Cook explained his decision to go with Naismith, who’d started the midweek game at Millwall.
“One of the big things in football, for good teams, successful teams, is continuity, picking the same team,” he said.
“Look at Sheffield United today - built around the (Billy) Sharp - (Leon) Clarke partnership up front.
“Partnerships in teams are really huge, and if you’re a manager who’s constantly chopping and changing your team, the likelihood is those partnerships won’t grow and develop.
“I’m a big believer in picking the same team, whether you’ve won or lost, to allow lads to learn from their mistakes and come back stronger.”