'Two-year feud' after Paul Cook's move to Wigan Athletic

Paul CookPaul Cook
Paul Cook | jpimedia
Paul Cook would have guided Portsmouth to the League One title in 2017-18 – rather than Wigan Athletic – had he remained at Fratton Park.

That’s the view of Robbie Blake, part of Cook’s backroom staff who rejected the chance to also make the move to Wigan three years ago.

“I fully believe that, had Cookie received the backing that year, it would have been Pompey celebrating the League One title instead of Wigan,” said Blake, the ex-Burnley and Bolton man.

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“With a new takeover coming in, Cookie wanted to take that club back to the Championship. But I genuinely believe he couldn’t get the backing.

“I know Wigan was close to Cookie’s home. He’s an intelligent man and probably felt it was right to leave – he had taken the club as far as he could at that time.

“I was surprised how it ended for him at Pompey, but wasn’t shocked. The club could have done more to keep him.

“I’m not saying he’s Pep Guardiola, but he is a fantastic manager who, I know for a fact, would have got Pompey into the Championship. I fully believe that, 100 per cent.

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“Even though he now has a different budget at Wigan in terms of resources, he went there and got them up as champions straightaway.”

Blake, who left Portsmouth for Bognor Regis Town in 2018, also says his refusal to follow Cook – and Leam Richardson, Nick Meace and Andy Procter – to Wigan led to a big fall-out.

“While it was very difficult to let Paul down and not go with him, I couldn’t leave Pompey,” Blake told ‘The News’. “Cookie was very annoyed and didn’t speak to me for almost two years.

“We’ve got through that now and are back on full speaking terms.

‘It’s back to normal, he still gives me stick! He probably felt he had lost his left arm – as I did.”