Mind the gap, warns Cook!
Paul Cook readily admits his Wigan Athletic side have yet to go through '˜a bad spell' that will test their promotion credentials '“ but is adamant they are strong enough to cope if and when it arises.
Latics lie a single point behind early leaders Shrewsbury with over a third of the campaign gone, and can boast both the best attack and defence in League One.
Indeed, despite flying under the radar for much of the season, due to Shrewsbury’s heroics, Wigan’s points-per-game ratio remains on course to bring up a century over the course of the campaign, which would surely secure the title next May.
Only the Shrews and Peterborough have lowered their colours so far – both on the road, and by the odd goal in games that could have gone either way.
Latics hit another minor speed-bump at the weekend, when they were held 0-0 at home by 10-man Blackburn, although it ensured Cook’s men stay unbeaten at the DW .
And the gaffer insists the six-point buffer that exists between his men and third-placed Bradford – and 12-point advantage over pre-season promotion favourites Blackburn – should not be under-estimated.
“If anyone had offered us – or any team – a six-point gap to third place, with such a good goal difference, at this stage, you’d have been delighted,” said Cook.
“But sadly there’s 30 games to go, not two.
“There’s a lot of football to be played – a lot of highs and lows – and we’ve not really had a bad spell yet.
“Our two defeats were relatively well spread out, so we’ve not really had disappointment yet. They’re never really far away, and it’s how you manage them that matters.”
Cook refused to be too downbeat in the aftermath of Saturday’s goalless draw with Blackburn, despite seeing two precious points slip through his fingers.
Latics couldn’t take advantage of enjoying most of the ball in good field position, with Gavin Massey’s second-half shot that hit the post the closest they came to breaking the deadlock.
Not even Michael Jacobs and Nick Powell – outstanding virtually every week so far – could unlock the door, but Cook is not a manager to throw out the baby with the bath water.
“One of two of our lads who have been excellent so far all of a sudden are not doing quite so well,” he added.
“That’s there for everyone to see but, as a manager, the most important thing is to wrap them up, and make them feel good and go again.”