Wigan Athletic old-boy hails 'absolute rock' Leam Richardson ahead of return
Paul Cook has hailed long-time management partner Leam Richardson as being 'an absolute rock' during their years together in the technical area.
But that won't stop Cook aiming to get one over his close pal when he returns to the DW with Ipswich this weekend, for the first time since leaving Wigan Athletic last summer.
"Leam's a great character, he's a strong-minded person with a very strong background," enthused Cook, who ended more than seven months out of the game when he took the Town job at the beginning of March.
"He's been a footballer himself, and he's been an absolute rock for me over the time we've been together.
"When you've been successful as a manager, and people look back on what you've done, they don't think about the bad days you've had.
"We've had loads of them, me and Leam...absolutely on-the-floor days when you need to be there for each other, and you find out so much about each other during those times.
"Me and Leam would be as solid as they come, and he's been absolutely pivotal to my - our - success in the past.
"But it's all in the post now, and the most important day is always tomorrow."
Cook says he's 'delighted' to see Latics closing in on a happy ending to their takeover trauma, after almost nine months in administration.
"My only message to Wigan fans would be how pleased I am for them, and how they conducted themselves in and around what went on," he added.
"It's absolutely fantastic, I'm so pleased, I'm so delighted...and especially for Leam.
"I know how tough he's had it this year.
"He's seen 22, 23 players leave the club, his manager, his first-team coach, his goalkeeping coach, his medical staff.
"They've worked with nothing this year, and they've conducted themselves so well.
"It'll be a really difficult day for me, to be truthful.
"I think the Wigan Athletic fans know how close to my heart they are, and the club as a whole.
"As for Saturday, I know Leam will want to beat me and Ipswich desperately, and we will want to beat him.
"That's how we're built as people, and certainly the respect will be there from both dug-outs I'm sure."
Also returning to the DW for the first time since leaving is Gary Roberts.
The 37-year-old started the season with Latics before moving on to another of his former clubs, Accrington, but decided to hang up his boots after joining Cook’s backroom staff at Portman Road.
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