Paul Cook has revealed the secret behind Wigan Athletic’s storming end to the season – absolutely nothing!
Latics were sweating on their Championship status in the middle of March, having gone seven games without a win.
But the 5-2 derby demolition over Bolton kicked off a run that saw them lose only one of the next eight – and that being a last-minute setback at Hull.
The kick down the home straight not only secured safety with two games to spare.
It also saw Cook nominated for April’s ‘manager of the month’ award, which was eventually won by Sheffield United’s Chris Wilder.
But the Latics boss says any adulation for anything he’s done different is wide of the mark.
“People think we’ve changed something in the last few weeks to ensure our safety – we haven’t,” he told the Wigan Post.
“People think we’ve changed the approach to the games – we haven’t.
“We remained very positive in our approach to the games, and we knew the most important league table was the one after 46 games.
“People can look at various stages of the season and say ‘we were here’, ‘we were there’ all they like.
“But come Sunday night, hopefully everyone will be more than happy with where we are.”
Cook admits the watershed moment in the campaign came with the beating of Bolton on March 16, coming on the back of a midweek defeat at Blackburn he says was the rock-bottom moment.
“I think it’s fair to say we had to beat Bolton...it was must-win,” he acknowledged.
“We’d just lost at Reading and Blackburn...if we’d lost against Bolton...we all know the perils of football.
“Would I have kept my job? None of us know the answer. I don’t know...but I like to think I would.
“The support I’ve been shown since the new owners came in has been fantastic.
“And I have never felt that pressure – other than to keep the team up.
“Did the Bolton win help? Of course it did.
“We all needed that, it was the little morale-booster we needed and we haven’t looked back.”
Sunday’s season-ending clash against Millwall will be followed by a lap of honour from the players and their families.
And the party atmosphere will continue into Bank Holiday Monday, when the club will repeat last year’s successful ‘Party in the Park’ in Mesnes Park (12noon start).
While last season’s event was to commemorate winning the League One title, Cook says this year’s repeat is no less significant in the big picture.
“I know some people might think it’s a bit weird celebrating ‘non-success’,” the Latics boss added.
“But how do you gauge success? That’s what you have to grasp.
“And I really feel we have achieved a level of success this year.
“We’d love to beat Millwall on Sunday and finish even higher in the division.
“Then it’s about moving on to the summer, and looking at how we can progress.
“But that’s all for the future...let’s just enjoy this for now.”