‘I feel Wigan Athletic fans’ pain over Will Grigg sale,’ says Paul Cook
But the Latics boss is adamant the £4million deadline-day offer from Sunderland - after SEVEN previous bids were rejected - was too much for the club to turn down.
And even though Cook’s task of keeping Latics in the Championship has undoubtedly become tougher - and he can’t spend any of the money until the summer - he has no issue with the decision to sell.
Cook said: “I’m disappointed obviously, for a lot of reasons - for Will’s relationship with the staff, the players and the supporters.
“But I’m also happy in a way for Will, because being a footballer is a small window of your lifetime.
“I also respect Sunderland as a club, and it’s something I’m not going to get involved in, the amount of bids etc.
“We wish Will well, and we certainly did our best to keep him.
“To say it’s left a bit of a cloud on the club is an understatement, but that’s football.
“Players and managers come and go, and that’s football.
“This football club will be here forever, and Will Grigg will forever be a part of its history.
“He’s an absolute diamond of a bloke and he’ll always be welcomed back here.”
The decision to sell Grigg predictably didn’t go down well with a fanbase that has taken the Northern Ireland to their hearts since he arrived in the summer of 2015.
Two successful promotions from League One, the goal that beat Manchester City, the goal that secured the League One title at Doncaster - and THAT song - means he’ll never be forgotten in Wigan.
And Cook, who started his playing career with Latics, says the fans are well within their rights to be upset.
“I totally understand and empathise with the emotions the supporters will be going through,” he acknowledged.
“As manager, I was hoping the window would come and go, we were happy with what we’d done business-wise.
“You’re sat in the office on deadline day, and the first instinct is to protect what you’ve got, as much as you can.
“But unfortunately in football - and I said this all along - everyone has a price, and contracts and stuff have to come into it.
“We did our best, we really did, but as a club, and as a manager, when offers of this magnitude come in, you have a decision to make and the boy has a decision to make.
“What we do with the money is in the future.
“What’s important right now is to respect Will, and understanding that sometimes football is a cruel world.
“To have turned down the size of bids we did showed we weren’t looking to sell players.
“But sometimes you have to make decisions, and the people who made that decision did so with the best interests of the club at heart - and that should never be forgotten.”