A game of fine margins for Wigan Athletic boss Paul Cook
Earlier this month Paul Cook’s players endured a tough journey home from Hull.
They had been leading at half time and eventually lost thanks to a last-minute Jordy De Wijs goal.
Kamil Grosicki’s equaliser had come from a mistake from keeper Christian Walton. Fine margins.
And last weekend, though the performance encouraging, the result could have been different again.
League leaders Norwich were pinned by a gritty Latics for most of the contest. Whether you think the penalty Reece James’ goal came from should have given or not doesn’t take away from the fact the home side had some fire in their bellies.
Then after Teemu Pukki’s equaliser, Leon Clarke thought he’d found the winner only to be flagged for an offside which has divided opinion again. Those pesky margins again.
For Paul Cook it can mean the difference between a pat on the back and fans picking apart everything from his set-up to selections.
But however today’s game goes, he has promised more of that fire.
“I always feel as a manager the next game is the most important one,” Cook said.
“We will be full-tilt in looking for a result that will help us along the way.
“When we looked at the Norwich and Leeds games I don’t think people gave us much hope of getting anything out of the games. For ourselves, what does a win at Leeds do for our season?”
Depending on how Rotherham get on at Swansea it could do quite a lot.
A five-point cushion with three games to go would be a nice thought for fans to have in the back of the mind while eating Easter eggs for breakfast before Monday’s clash with Preston.
“Within a season, when you’re not doing so well everyone gets challenging because the modern day game has become a game to game environment where if you don’t win the game, everything the manager’s done has been done wrong,” Cook explained.
“Norwich had a chance in the eighth minute of stoppage time where if that goes in...
“We have a chance with Clarke at the other end and if that goes in…
“And those can be the margins.
“The points are important for everyone. Every game in the division probably carries something in relation to the outcome for the season.
“For our lads who performed so well on Sunday against a very strong Norwich side, disappointment to not win the game again is big.
“Those games are massive. Win and what it can do for you...”
One thing Cook acknowledges he has in abundance is effort from his players.
With the end of the season speeding towards
the sides jostling for position at both ends of the table, Cooks is confident the late disappointments won’t knock his players off course where work rate is concerned.
“I’m pleased as a manager with the level of work and effort our lads have put in, none more so than last week,” he said.
“Our lads continually give me everything they’ve got.
“As a manager, while you get that I don’t have any problems at all.”
And as for the match, Cook is happy to believe his players can deliver a result.
“Those who know us know we don’t travel in fear,” he said.
“Our record isn’t great on the road but certainly our respect for the opposition is good and certainly our hopes and pursuits on winning the game is very strong.”