Talking Football: FA Cup drama? No thanks!
All eyes will be on the FA Cup this weekend, the BBC cameras will be there, and all the neutrals will be hoping for a cup upset.
However, rather than writing another page in their glorious history, this time Latics will be simply trying to avoid a banana skin at AFC Fylde.
It’s the classic ‘no-win’ scenario for Paul Cook and his men.
Win...and everyone says ‘so they should’ against a side two divisions below them on the football ladder.
Lose...and we’ll never hear the end of it.
It’ll be Canvey Island (shudder) all over again.
Even a draw would be something of a blow for Cook, who can certainly do without the hassle of an extra game to be fitted in over an already-hectic festive period.
So I can understand why he’ll be fielding a side that won’t be far away from full strength for the big game.
Unlike many of his managerial counterparts, Cook afforded the competition maximum respect in the first round with his team selection against Crawley.
They got the job done – just about – but it was a clear statement of intent.
The Latics boss made no bones about the fact the Checkatrade Trophy and even League Cup featured pretty low on his list of priorities.
But in this post-parachute payments era, the importance of the FA Cup cannot be underestimated.
Last season, there were one and a half million reasons why Latics were delighted to secure a televised trip to Manchester United in round four.
Not so long ago, Latics rubbed shoulders at the top table with United. But for now, a return trip there could provide a chunk of the budget for a promotion push.
A dual aim that, so far, Cook has successfully juggled.
And at the risk of letting down the BBC audience, fingers crossed it continues.
Paul Cook was on great form last week, while describing the incident during the Doncaster game when referee Sebastian Stockbridge came over to the technical area following a bit of ‘constructive criticism’ from the Latics bench.
“He asked me how I was,” revealed the Latics boss.
“He said he hadn’t seen me for a few months.
“He said I hadn’t changed. I said: ‘Neither have you!’”
Don’t ever change, Paul, whatever you do!
Great to hear Will Grigg’s not lost any of the belief and confidence of a man who’s hit 20 goals and won promotion from League One on THREE previous occasions.
Despite only scoring four goals in the last year, largely due to injury problems, the Northern Ireland ace has promised Paul Cook he’ll still reach his usual target this term.
Grigg has proved time and time again that if the supply line is good, he knows where the back of the net is.
And as he gradually gets back to full match sharpness, that spells bad news for League One defences.
There was a depressing inevitability about the way the managerial vacancies at Everton and West Brom respectively were filled.
No offence (well, maybe a bit – and deservedly so – in the case of Pardew), but it does show the lack of options out there, and the lack of imagination of some clubs.
And further proof that it’s not the ‘pesky foreigners’ coming over and taking the jobs of talented young Britlish coaches.
It’s the tried-and-tested old guard – and you can throw Pulis, Moyes and Hodgson in there too – who have won precisely nothing between them.
It’s worth pointing out the bottom eight managers in Premier League are now British. Only Chris Hughton (Brighton) and Sean Dyche (Burnley) are in the top 12.
Sticking with Allardyce and Everton, my favourite analysis of the situation came from @MundialMag on Twitter (above): “He just slammed his pint of wine down and said ‘you’ll be back in touch sooner rather than later’... and he was right, Rita.”