I ‘absolutely loved’ rivalry with Blackburn Rovers, admits Wigan Athletic chief

Paul Cook
Paul Cook

It was one of the entertaining sub-plots of last season with fans, players and managers of Wigan Athletic and Blackburn Rovers exchanging almost weekly pleasantries as the two sides battled for the League One title.

Latics of course emerged triumphant back in May, but it’s Rovers who are on top at the moment, having made a better start to life in the Championship this current season.

Paul Cook’s men can close to within two points of Rovers with a win on Wednesday night at the DW Stadium.

But the Latics boss is taking nothing for granted, even with Blackburn having been hammered 4-1 at Preston last weekend.

“Blackburn are having an excellent season, and I’m sure Tony Mowbray will be delighted with the way it’s going,” enthused Cook.

“I read his comments after the Preston game and I thought he was bang on – that there would be no knee-jerk reaction.

“We had people at the game, and the report back was they didn’t do a lot wrong in the game.

“It’s not the end of the world for them, and they’ve had a very solid start to the campaign.

“Like ourselves, the key for them is retaining their status in the Championship and moving forwards.”

Cook’s face breaks into a smile when reminded about the friendly fire being exchanged between the two sides last term.

“I loved it – absolutely loved it!” he acknowledged.

“With the best will in the world, to Bradley Dack and lads who are up for a bit of banter, it’s great.

“And it’s also great to see Bradley Dack and others, having the careers they’re having.

“That little bit of rivalry is all good, all healthy, and I think it’s a nice rivalry.

“Sometimes you can build up a rivalry and all of a sudden you’re at a place where you don’t want to go.

“Last year we were both challenging for the league, and there was never anything in it until the last game.

“Great credit to our lads, they stayed with it and fully deserved to pick up the trophy at Doncaster.

“This year they’re above us at the moment, and they’ll be happy with the way they’re progressing.”