‘I can’t get any more out of my players,’ insists Wigan Athletic boss

Paul Cook
Paul Cook

Paul Cook isn’t viewing Wigan Athletic’s point against Reading at the weekend as a significant line in the sand.

Following four damaging defeats on the spin that saw Latics drop to within four points of the relegation zone, Cook saw his side pick up a point that could and perhaps should have been all three.

But he refuses to buy into the notion that the rot has been stopped...because there was never a rot to stop in the first place!

Cook took particular umbrage to being asked about his side’s recent ‘adverse form’ during his media duties ahead of tonight’s visit of Blackburn.

“If you look at the games, and the teams we’ve actually lost to...I don’t see where this ‘adverse form’ is coming from,” he replied.

“It’s football – and if people are expecting us to beat Leeds, beat Middlesbrough, beat Sheffield United, then I suppose it is adverse form.

“But I don’t see that as adverse form, even though we lost four games in a row.

“If we score the penalty at Millwall to go 2-0 up, the likelihood is we go on and win the game, instead of losing.

“We’d be sitting here on 24 points, looking to beat Blackburn tonight to move into the top 10.

“But the swing goes against you, and it’s suddenly ‘adverse form’.

“And that plays a major part in the psyche of a player.

“We can end up making players feel like they’re doing something wrong.

“I’ve looked at my team from the sidelines in recent weeks and wondered if I could get any more out of any of the players...and I don’t think I can.

“Of course we’re making mistakes in games, but we’ve got probably the youngest back five in the Championship.

“And we wonder why some of them are making the odd mistake?

“For me it’s about keeping focused, trying to get the next result, in the knowledge that confidence comes from winning games and scoring goals.”

There was an overwhelming feeling of frustration in the stands at the weekend as Latics were unable to convert their dominance over a limited Reading side into a much-needed win.

Cook, though, was keen to accentuate the positives.

“It was a game we worked hard at and did everything we wanted to do in the game,” he said.

“Sometimes if you don’t take your chances then games can end up like that.

“I was impressed with our solidity with and without the ball, and there were no individual errors which have been hampering us recently.

“It’s small steps, and on we go.”

Latics have been doing it tough this season, with a number of injury setbacks to deal with.

The latest has seen on-loan Everton left-back Antonee Robinson sidelined until mid-February after undergoing knee surgery.

He joins Gavin Massey, Michael Jacobs and Chey Dunkley on the crocked list, which may also soon be welcoming Nick Powell depending on the results of a hamstring scan.

But Cook is not content to merely count the days until the January transfer window opens.

“Most managers will be looking to January, which is quite natural,” he said.

“But it’s also important to remember there’s an awful of of football to be played between now and then.

“I’m more focused on looking at what’s in front is us in there here and now, and how that will affect our targets for what we want to achieve this season.

“This league is so tough, and every point is so very hard to get.

“Having picked up one point on Saturday, the next step is to push on and start winning games again.

“We’ve come through the change in ownership, and we’re now trying to put things in place that will see us through to January.

“Ideally we will strengthen, but if we don’t get the players in then we won’t.

“It’s not about telling everyone you’re going to be bringing in players in January, and everything’s going to be great.

“That’s not football. We’ve got a very good squad of players here as it is.

“We’re looking to get through to January, and then hopefully add a few to make us even better.

“That’s the key to football.”