Wigan Athletic fans have their say in our 12th Man column

Paul Cook
Paul Cook

It’s been an emotional end to the week for Latics but, written on the eve of the takeover getting the green light, our 12th Man experts call for Paul Cook and the side to be given a bit of slack despite a dip in fortunes.

PAUL MIDDLETON: Who knows what goes through a fan’s head when they see their team get beaten by what is probably the best team in the league (in Sheffield United)?

If Latics fans are any measure, it’s to scream for the head of the manager, and claim “we need someone like Neil Warnock”.

I’m really not quite sure what level our fans think we belong.

Well, I’ve got news for them – it isn’t the Premier League.

Yes, we had eight great years. Yes, it was great (some of the time). No, we don’t belong there.

The Premier League is not our level, the Championship is. And even then it’s not a certainty.

Any club can have a few years in the light.

Burnley and Bournemouth are two good examples today.

But it won’t last – it never does.

The number of clubs who genuinely belong, year in year out, in the Premier League is incredibly small.

The rest of us are fighting for the crumbs.

So stop moaning and start appreciating Paul Cook is probably one of the best managers we’ve ever had.

He’s working with no budget in a league packed with clubs who have much more to spend than us.

And yet we’re still remarkably competitive.

Speaking of managers who polarise our support, it seems our old pal Roberto Martinez is up for the Real Madrid manager’s job.

If that’s the case – apart from the fact it would be a little odd that a Catalan would take the job in the first place – I’ll be very pleased for him.

I couldn’t care less we got relegated when he was manager.

It was inevitable, as it will be for Burnley and Bournemouth.

The same people who wanted him out now claim the FA Cup win was in spite of Bob, not because of him.

We’re one of only 43 clubs ever to win the FA Cup, and some of our fans think it was down to blind luck.

In my lifetime, we’ve had some awful managers.

Three of the worst have been in the last 10 years.

But Roberto Martinez and Paul Cook are certainly not among them.

SEAN LIVESEY: Three away games played, three defeats, 10 goals conceded.

Saturday at Sheffield United was a disappointing day, and the atmosphere in the away end was like nothing I’ve ever experienced in Paul Cook’s time with Latics.

There was a lot of anger on the terraces, and seemingly a lot of that anger was aimed at the man who has done so much to change the fortunes of our club.

There’s no denying the away form this season is now a major cause for concern, and sadly that was shown on the terraces at Bramall Lane.

Apart from the emphatic victory at Stoke, Latics have been on the end of a defeat in every one of their away matches this season.

It clearly isn’t good enough – and I’m sure Cook, the management team and the players will be doing their utmost to change it.

Some context has to be given to that away form – against Aston Villa we were the better side and deserved to leave Birmingham with a win.

The fact we ended up leaving with a defeat isn’t a fair reflection on the match itself.

Against QPR, we lost out to a goal that shouldn’t have been allowed, and against Norwich to a penalty that shouldn’t have been given.

These may well be excuses but even a couple of defeats in to draws makes that away record look better.

If Josh Windass hadn’t aimed for Mars when he took his penalty against Millwall, we would have come away from the capital with an extra three points.

In that time we’ve also lost four major players to injury in Will Grigg, Gavin Massey, Michael Jacobs and now Gary Roberts.

Saturday’s defeat was another one that looked unlikely as the match progressed.

Latics were excellent in their build-up play against Sheffield United.

Nick Powell, Roberts and Windass all linked up well, and at times the Blades couldn’t cope with the attacking three.

A nailed-on penalty was ignored before Sheffield United’s first goal and, although Latics rallied briefly through Kal Naismith, there was only ever going to be one winner as Latics visibly crumbled in the second half.

There’s clearly work to do on the road and, with injuries piling up, Latics are due some good luck.

Sadly it’s Leeds up next for this fragile Wigan side.

But we are at home and it’s in the comforts of home that Wigan truly have shone this time around.

Against West Brom last time out, Latics looked like a side rejuvinated after the defeat to Preston.

We have to hope there’s a similar recovery this time around.

Marcelo Bielsa has crafted a Leeds side full of flair and danger.

Anyone who thought the Argentine legend wouldn’t be up to the rigours of Championship management have been found to be wrong as Leeds challenge at the top end of the division again.

That said Leeds – like West Brom before them – are not unbeatable.

Cook needs to get his patched-up Latics side to exploit Leeds’ weak spots.

And despite the odds being stacked against us again, I have every faith he will.