What can Paul Cook serve up in first season at Wigan?by Mike Holden / 21 July 2017, 14:10Tweet
Mike Holden (@Ratings_Mike) previews Paul Cook and Wigan ahead of the upcoming 2017/18 League One season.
Wigan simply weren’t good enough for the Championship last season but a large chunk of the squad that lifted the League One title two seasons ago remains. Paul Cook was appointed in June and swiftly set about reinvigorating a diluted dressing room by cancelling a scheduled pre-season trip Austria, then taking the players on a jolly-up to Spain instead. The Liverpudlian was a title winner himself at Portsmouth last season, coming good with a surging late run having underwhelmed for nearly two years.
The perma-hoarse Liverpudlian is a prickly idealist with a fixed set of values on how the game should be played and he doesn’t kindly to any line of questioning that probes areas with little relevance to his norms and standards. He plays 4-2-3-1 almost religiously and looks to dominate possession, playing out from the back. He’s also ultra-sensitive to pressure and does everything he possibly can to control how his players think and feel, working tirelessly against outside influences.
"When you’ve been relegated there’s always going to be a little bit of a cloud, a bit of sadness around the club, but that’s got to disappear quick. We have to look forward. Everyone must come together. Happy clubs are successful clubs and my job is to guide that ship forward. I’m not envisaging ripping it up and starting again but we do have to reduce the numbers if possible. I do think we have too many players - and it’s hard to keep too many players happy."
This will be Cook’s sixth full season as an EFL manager and the previous five have all resulted in a top-eight finish. However, there’s structural work to be done at the DW Stadium and it’s worth noting he came up short of expectations in his maiden campaign at both Chesterfield and Portsmouth, before winning the title next time around. The appointment of Warren Joyce last season was a disaster, not least because his January splurge diluted the spirit of a title-winning team.
Prediction: top half