'˜Manage this disappointment' - Wigan Athletic players told
Paul Cook has called on his Wigan Athletic players to '˜manage the disappointment' of failing to get the win they needed against AFC Wimbledon to secure the League One title.
With second-placed Blackburn losing at Charlton, three points for Latics at the DW Stadium would have wrapped up the title with a game to spare.
However, Cook’s side were in the end indebted to Michael Jacobs for a second-half equaliser, after Joe Pigott had opened the scoring midway through the first half.
It means Latics need a point at Doncaster next weekend to ensure they finish top - even if Blackburn win their final game - and Cook is not throwing the baby out with the bath water.
“The players deserve a pat on the back for digging in and responding to going a goal behind,” the Latics boss acknowledged.
“We didn’t want to lose the last game at home, and go out with a whimper.
“Great credit to the lads for keeping the nice little run we’ve got going on, and sometimes you have to respect your point and move on.
“The stage was set for us today, there was a real feeling of we were going to do it - and unfortunately we couldn’t quite get it done.
“The lads worked very hard, especially in that second half, and it’s so important we manage our disappointment, and keep it in a good place.”
There was a rather flat atmosphere inside the stadium as the players did their lap of appreciation following the final home game.
Cook, though, insists there’s nothing to feel downbeat about.
“I don’t feel huge disappointment, I really don’t,” he insisted.
“It’s obviously disappointing for the fans, and the players’ families and kids who are all here.
“But from my point of view, and the players, we’re not disappointed.
“You look back to last weekend and Fleetwood, and what a day we had.
“But without some bad days, you can’t fully enjoy the good days.
“And if this is a bad day...well it’s not really too bad, is it?
“Of course there’s an inevitable tinge of disappointment we haven’t managed to deliver the title in front of our own fans.
“But there’s also a tinge of excitement in me that we’re going to take over 4,000 fans to Doncaster next weekend, and what a day that could be.”
Cook hailed his side for coming back into the game in the second half, but felt Latics didn’t do themselves any favours with their first-half display.
“I’m not going to over-analyse the game, because they were two contrasting halves,” he added.
“It was a very lacklustre performance from us in the first half, and we’ve been giving too many goals to teams in the last few weeks.
“We’ve not just been at it like we should be, and in the majority of the games this season we’ve been able to dominate the game.
“You can’t be doing that when you’re 1-0 down, though - you have to do it at 0-0.
“After what they’ve given me this season, I can’t criticise this group of players - I wouldn’t dream of it.
“When you’re sitting on 95 points, it is a lot of points.
“It’s more points than I’ve ever taken as a manager, and if we could get to 98 next week, that would cap some season.”