Wigan Athletic boss: We must break this destructive ‘pattern’

Bakary Sako scores the only goal to knock Latics out of the FA Cup
Bakary Sako scores the only goal to knock Latics out of the FA Cup

Paul Cook acknowledged the FA Cup third-round defeat at West Brom was an all-too-familiar tale of woe for Wigan Athletic.

Latics crashed out of the competition they won in 2013 at the first hurdle, thanks to a Bakary Sako goal just after the half-hour.

The visitors had already created and squandered several decent openings before the Baggies took control of the game.

And Cook is well aware of the worrying ‘pattern’ that’s been killing the side in recent weeks.

“It was a tough game, a tough day for us in general,” the Latics boss recognised.

“I thought it followed a similar pattern to what’s been happening to us too often of late - we started well, we miss a chance or two, and then we concede after about half an hour.

“That’s the pattern we’re trying to get out of, but within that I have to say the players are doing everything they can to win games.

“For us it’s about learning curves and trying to keep progressing as much as we can.

“It is what it is, and we’ve now got clear water in relation to our only focus - which is clearly to stay in this league.

“And together with our supporters, the players and the staff, we must show that unity that will see us achieve our goal.”

Latics are now without a win in their last eight matches, and have failed to score in six of their last seven games.

“You can talk about runs, but we’ve just been unfortunate to run into Swansea, Sheffield United, West Brom,” retorted Cook.

“If we were to have played Barnet, Wrexham, Colchester, it might have been different.

“Unfortunately, we’re not playing those teams.

“Runs are what they are, and pressure is there every day for players and managers.

“We just keep going...as a manager at this football club I’ve been fortunate to have enjoyed a lot of very good days.

“But bad days are never too far away, and the manager must lead from the front through those times as well.

“If the manager doesn’t lead well, the players won’t react well.

“We’ll do whatever we can to allow our players to go out on to the field with confidence and bravery, because that’s the only way we’ll get results.”

Having been starved of any kind luck in recent weeks, Cook was dealt a cruel hand before the game when - with skipper Sam Morsy already ruled out with a hamstring problem - replacement Darron Gibson pulled up lame in the warm-up, meaning an 11th-hour call for Lee Evans.

“Sammy felt his hamstring in the week, Darron then pulls a muscle in his thigh...and we are stretched at the moment,” added Cook.

“But that’s no excuse, West Brom are a good side, and they deserved to win the game.

“We wish them well in the next round, but for us it’s about our target of retaining our Championship status.

“As a manager, you can only ask whether your players are giving you enough, and I feel my group is doing more than enough.

“They’re working as hard as they can for me and the club.”