Paul Cook: Emotion can carry Wigan Athletic to promotion aim
There's a familiar feeling to this afternoon's game at Highbury Stadium.
Wigan Athletic travel to Fleetwood with an army of fans expecting a carnival in tow.
If they win – and Shrewsbury fail to win against bottom club Bury – they will be raising their glasses to promotion tonight.
Almost two years ago
Latics did just that down the road from Fleetwood at Blackpool.
A 4-0 win in the spring sunshine sent them back up to the Championship and they went on to lift the title – a scenario which is very much on the cards this year.
Admittedly it seems unlikely Shrewsbury will fail to win at home to the team propping up the table, but even so, with four games to go Paul Cook’s Wigan need four points to confirm promotion. A win today would realistically do it then.
But even at this late stage, manager Cook is sticking to the hymn sheet he started the season with. This is a game worth three points, as equal in importance to the season’s other 45.
“When you play games they become defining games but the reality of football is you play 46. The reality of football is every game has an equal importance,” he said.
“It’s just that the games in April seem more important than the games in November but they are the same.
“For us, the lads have had an outstanding season. It’s coming to the final little stretch now and you’ve just got to stay with it and stay focused and do our best to get over that line.”
Even so, Cook acknowledges his side have enjoyed a great season.
With 90 points, they’ve already surpassed the 87 they won the title with in the 2015/16 season – a perfect example of how demanding the race has been this season.
And he admits knowing what is needed to secure promotion can act as a boost to his players.
“We’re going to finish with a points tally now in the 90s, possibly the 100s if everything goes extremely well,” he said.
“It’s an amazing amount of points so whatever the
last four games brings, it brings.
“For me adrenaline and emotion can carry you so far. We know if results
went out way we can be promoted.
“That will carry
them without a shadow of a doubt.”
But for now Cook is reiterating a message he has broadcast all season. Focus on what’s directly in front and don’t look too far ahead.
And even knowing what is needed to secure promotion, he isn’t changing his tune just yet.
“It’s funny now because for the last month or so no one’s known, all of a sudden now the finishing line is in sight and you know,” he
“If we were to achieve four points we would be promoted. For us to get three points wouldn’t half help so we just need to focus on Fleetwood and nothing else.
“At the minute we’re in the play-offs.
“There’s always a sense of achievement being in the playoffs, but the bigger picture is to be promoted.”