Paul Cook believes now could be an ideal time to be playing mighty Manchester City – despite Wigan Athletic reeling from back-to-back defeats.
Latics have had an extra couple of days to prepare for Monday’s televised FA Cup fifth-round tie against the Premier League leaders, and it could be needed after successive setbacks to Southend and Blackpool.
Rather than sit back and lick their wounds, however, Cook feels a glamour tie in front of the nation could act as the perfect pick-me-up.
“It’s just going to be a great night for everyone connected to the club,” the Latics boss admitted.
“Is it a distraction to the league? Yes, it possibly is.
“Does that make it a good or bad distraction? Only time will tell. The reality for us is that, by the time we next play in the league, we’ll have three games in hand over Shrewsbury and Blackburn.
“We have to make up those games, but for the moment all of our focus is on the FA Cup. That’s life.”
Latics have already knocked out Premier League Bournemouth and West Ham at the DW Stadium and, despite a dip in league form, Cook says the cup is not in danger of derailing their season.
“I can only say what I feel, but I genuinely don’t feel the cup run has affected our league campaign in any way, shape or form,” he insisted.
“We’ve got a fantastic set of players here, who’ve been a credit to themselves all year.
“We’ve had a little blip in relation to where we’d previous been, having been top of the table for three months.
“Naturally people will speculate as to why, but I don’t believe that’s had an effect.
“We went 16 games without defeat, and that’s a good run – but all good runs come to an end. It just so happens that’s come before Man City, but I don’t think there’s anything in that.”
Cook also insists he’s not keeping his fingers crossed Pep Guardiola decides to rest a few of his big guns with more important games coming up.
“We’d like City to come here full tilt,” the Latics boss added.
“I was at the Liverpool game the other week and, believe it or not, for two or three minutes when Liverpool were on top, Man City had gone.
“And that’s not being disrespectful, because within the minutes they came back to sanity they could have had three or four goals.
“But Liverpool – whether anyone likes it or not – managed to disrupt them.
“For us, you have to try and get among them and about them in order to do that.
“If we do that, we’re well aware that we’ll be leaving ourselves so open it’s untrue.
“But that’s the challenge in front of us, and we’ll be ready.”