'˜You are my sunshine?' - Not on my watch, says Wigan Athletic boss Paul Cook!
While some other football clubs have taken the opportunity to jet overseas for warm-weather training during the international break, it's been business as usual for Wigan Athletic at Euxton under the watchful eye of Paul Cook.
And with Latics hoping to arrest a run of four successive defeats this afternoon against Reading, Cook wouldn’t have had it any other way.
“It certainly wasn’t a trip to Dubai, which is where I know a lot of other clubs go,” he remarked, as down-to-earth and honest as ever.
“It was very much a working fortnight for all of the squad.
“As we’ve said before, the international breaks are what they are.
“A lot of the more senior managers will be well used to them by now.
“For me and my staff, we’re maybe not so used to them.
“And certainly on the back of losing at Middlesbrough, the thought of having a nice little break...it wouldn’t have sat well with me.
“I think the supporters will always be happy to hear the lads have been in and working hard, doing the best we can to get out of this little run we’ve found ourselves on.”
Cook insists Latics haven’t been doing much different to the start of the season, when they flew out of the traps and were in the dizzy heights of third spot in late September.
All that’s changed is a few injuries, and a worrying number of individual errors that is undermining the good work going on elsewhere.
“You’ve got to try and be fair to the players at all times,” Cook acknowledged.
“Whenever a team loses a game, there’s got to be a reason for that.
“And sometimes the reason can be you weren’t good enough on the day.
“But people don’t accept that as an excuse – it has to be something tactically, or something the manager’s either done or hasn’t done.
“The reality is, at the minute, we’re not doing things in games that you’d expect us to be doing – and that’s the best way I can describe it.
“We’re not being over-run in games, we’re not being outplayed, we’re not giving up, or missing, boatload of chances.
“We’re just making individual mistakes, and making decisions on the pitch that are letting in the opposition.
“That leads to a lack of confidence – and the quicker we can eradicate that, the better.”
And Cook steadfastly refuses to point to the injury situation as any kind of mitigation for Wigan’s recent woe.
“It can become an excuse for a manager, and that’s the danger,” he recognised. “Has the fact players have been out injured cost us results? That’s open for debate.
“Have individual mistakes within the team cost us results? I’d prefer to look at the latter.
“All I can try and do is eradicate the mistakes that are happening in the side, regardless of who we’ve got available.
“Every team misses good players when they are out. But too many managers make excuses about players who are out injured and suspended.
“Last season we hardly had any injuries during the whole year.
“This season, we’re in such a tough division, and it can take you by surprise if you’re not used to it.
“The sheer demands of the games, physically and mentally, and it has been hard to come to terms with.”
The Reading game is the first of three in the space of a busy week, with Blackburn at the DW on Wednesday and the small matter of a trip to Bolton next Saturday.
Not that Cook will be wasting even a glance at the upcoming fixtures.
“For us it’s very much all systems go for the Reading game,” he added.
“And we’ll worry about Blackburn when that one’s out of the way.
“Our sights are firmly fixed on Reading, and trying to get the week off with three points.”