Wigan Athletic boss not scared of making tough calls
Paul Cook has pledged to keep on making difficult decisions he believes are ‘right’ for Wigan Athletic – regardless of how popularly they are received.
The Latics boss has adopted a softly-softly approach so far with Joe Gelhardt, largely keeping the England Under-18 forward in reserve this term before finally handing him his first start against Sheffield Wednesday in midweek.
But his decision to withdraw the 17-year-old just after the hour mark was booed by a section of the home support.
Gelhardt’s replacement, Michael Jacobs – and Joe Williams, who also entered the field in a double substitution – both made favourable contributions as Latics pushed on for a vital victory.
And Cook says the end will always justify the means.
“I’m not going to start discussing the crowd’s reaction and stuff like that, that’s just how it is, that’s football today,” he said.
“It was quite loud booing, but it doesn’t really bother me...we’ve won 2-1!
“I make decisions because I think they’re right, not because a 17-year-old lad who’s making his full debut goes into a game like that.
“And when you’re bringing on players like Michael Jacobs and Joe Williams...you have to make decisions as a manager, it’s part and parcel of the game.
“But I think fans should also respect the players who are coming on, as well as off, because it is a team game.
“You will never win anything with just individual players, and this was a terrific team effort - including Joe, who had an excellent debut.”
Wigan’s win reduced the gap to safety to four points with 17 matches remaining.
Cook, though, is refusing to look too far down the line.
“You have to win a certain amount of games to stay up, I keep telling people that,” he said. “Look at Stoke, who last week were involved in a relegation fight.
“They put six points on the board in the space of four days, and all of a sudden it seems like they’re out of it.
“If you don’t win football matches, you will stay in trouble. If you do win football matches, you can pull yourselves out of it quite quickly.
“You can feel the energy in the dressing room, you can feel the energy from the players, you can feel the energy from the majority of the fans.
“And that’s what we’re going to need if we’re going to get any kind of success this season.”