Talking football: What next for Paul Cook, Wigan Athletic...and Will Grigg?
It’s no understatement to suggest this next week could be the biggest of the season for Paul Cook and Wigan Athletic.
The transfer window ‘slams shut’ next Thursday evening – it’s not contractually allowed to merely ‘close’ – and that will be that, squad-wise.
Cook has stated repeatedly he is looking to add quality and depth to all areas of his squad.
Frustratingly, he is only been able to bring in free transfer Anthony Pilkington so far.
Most of the activity was always going to come at the end of the month – with clubs higher up the food chain finalising their squads before deciding who can or can’t leave.
But given Latics have been without a recognised left-back for almost two months – since Antonee Robinson got injured – it’s fair to assume there isn’t a lot of money to play with.
Even with the takeover by IEC having gone through, which some fans were hoping was going to lead to spending on a Manchester City or Chelsea scale.
Clearly that was never going to be the case – IEC said as much in their opening statements, with Darren Royle repeating the line in his only media interview so far.
But Cook must be disappointed at the lack of movement, especially with results having taken a downturn in recent months, and his being the name above the door.
If the manager has been told he must sell before he can buy, it would explain why Sunderland are refusing to go away in their pursuit of Will Grigg.
But the sale of a man most fans would view as the best striker at the club – who was at the heart of many of the club’s greatest memories in recent years – would be a major gamble.
Especially if those brought in with the money didn’t hit the ground running.
And especially if the worst happened, and Latics found themselves relegated back to League One - a division from which Grigg’s goals virtually guarantee promotion.
Yes, he’s found it tougher in the Championship - six goals from open play in 50 appearances across a season-and-a-half with Latics.
But there are mitigating circumstances, with injury and a lack of adequate supply hampering him in both campaigns.
Whe he’s been fully fit at the start of this season and 2016/17, and the supply line was there, he’s scored goals.
And it’s very easy to see why Sunderland want him.
It’s not quite so clear to see why Latics would risk so much by allowing him to leave - especially at the figures being quoted.
Unless there was literally no other way - and no money - to allow Cook to bring in new blood.
Yes, Latics have struggled badly with injuries this term.
Indeed, Cook says the only reason Grigg hasn’t been playing of late is because his supply line – Nick Powell, Michael Jacobs and Gavin Massey – have been injured.
That trio could be back on the field together in a matter of weeks.
Let’s hope Grigg is still around to take full advantage - as Cook hoped would the case when asked last week.
Owing to an ankle injury picked up at Sheffield Wednesday on Saturday, he won’t be there at Nottingham Forest this weekend.
A match that has taken on even greater importance given the wretched away record.
Cook reiterated his belief last week that he isn’t concerned at having won only once on the road all season, because the home form has been so impressive.
While you can see where he’s coming from, the fans who follow Latics around week in, week out – and at such high cost – weren’t quite so understanding.
All the more reason for Latics to come up with a performance, and a result, to restore some much-needed joy.
Before transfer deadline day any way.
Yes, it could be a long week ahead...
Congrats to Ashton Town for pulling off the transfer swoop of the season in the form of Pascal Chimbonda.
The Latics legend – he remains the only player to be named in the Premier League team of the year while a Wigan man – will make his debut this weekend against Bacup Borough.
With Latics on the road at Nottingham Forest, I’m sure the gate at Edge Green Street will be boosted quite a bit to witness his debut.
And with snow in the air this week, I think we can pretty much guarantee the gloves will be out in force!
I’m not saying Fulham are up against it at the moment.
But with manager Claudio Ranieri revealing Alfie Mawson recently injured himself while putting on his boots, you’ve got to think someone up there has it in for the Cottagers.