Cook is out of luck and out of ideas – Wigan Athletic 1 Reading 3

Paul Cook

The time could be up for Paul Cook after another disappointing performance in the 3-1 home defeat to Reading.

Latics had led 1-0 at half time through Joe Garner’s first goal of the season but after a controversial penalty decision was given against Chey Dunkley the hosts brittle confidence was severely exposed.

Some dreadful defending allowed Reading’s George Puscas to complete a hat-trick in the space of only five minutes and put Cook’s job on the line.

Two points and no wins from the last seven games is just not good enough and there seems little indication that Cook can turn around the current form.

Latics are in the Championship relegation zone and look unlikely to escape the drop unless there is a change in manager.

Cook made two changes from the midweek 2-2 draw at Millwall with Michael Jacobs and Josh Windass coming into the  team.

Latics started brightly with Anthony Pilkington’s long range effort being tipped over the bar by Rafael.

But after an even first half hour Latics somewhat fortuitously went ahead on 35 minutes. Chey Dunkley’s header from a corner was spilled by Rafael and Garner was on hand to fire home at close range.

Latics might’ve added a second before the interval but Windass volleyed wide from a Garner cross.

Reading then had an opportunity on the stroke half-time but Puscas headed just wide from an Omar Richards free-kick.

Latics went into the interval 1-0 ahead but their second half performance left much to be desired.

Reading showed their intent early on when Garath McCleary was put through on goal but he failed to hit the target.

Windass and Pilkington then created a chance for Samy Morsy, but the captain’s shot was deflected wide from close range.

With 15 minutes remaining the game turned in Reading’s favour as Latics imploded.

Referee Jeremy Simpson awarded the visitors a penalty when Dunkley was harshly adjudged to have handled in the area and Puscas converted from the spot kick.

Latics’ players heads immediately went down and they conceded two more goals in quick succession.

Some of Latics’ fans had booed substitute Kal Naismith as he came on and this may have affected his confidence but unfortunately the player who had followed Cook from Portsmouth was partly at fault for the second and third goals.

Naismith gave the ball away in midfield and the visitors broke forward quickly and Puscas skipped past several defenders before finishing from the edge of the six yard box.

Naismith was again at fault four minutes later when he was dispossessed and Puscas grabbed his quickfire hat-trick by finishing with relative ease inside the box.

Joe Gelhardt made a rare appearance as a substitute but it was all too late by the time he had come off the bench.

Latics players left the pitch to a chorus of boos after another abject display.

Cook may bemoan the penalty decision but Latics had not been good enough. Reading had 21 shots to Latics 9 and the away team always looked more of a threat going forward.

Latics created very little in the second half and consistently lacked a cutting edge in the final third.

Cook’s style of football has deteriorated this season with long ball tactics predominant, team selection has been erratic and a lack of creativity in the line-ups.

Latics have a talented England U18 striker in Gelhardt but Cook has strangely limited his appearances despite his other strikers lack of goals.

The team are in a downward spiral and Cook seemingly lacks the tactical nouse to get them away from the drop zone.

Nigel Adkins would be a good choice as manager as he fits with Latics current profile in the Championship. A former goalkeeper with the club and a Scouser, who has considerable Championship experience and did well at Hull City in his last role.

The main priority now must be to ensure that Latics are not relegated. A change will give the new manager the opportunity to stop the downward spiral, assess the playing squad and make the necessary changes in the January transfer window.

Posted in Championship, George Puscas, Joe Garner, Paul Cook, Reading, Wigan Athletic | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Will rare away point be enough to save Cook? Millwall 2 Wigan Athletic 2

Anthony Pilkington Anthony Pilkington on target for Latics

It wasn’t pretty but Wigan Athletic managed to secure a rare away point in a 2-2 draw at Millwall.

In a scrappy encounter dominated by route one football from both sides, it was Latics who took an early lead when Anthony Pilkington produced a sublime finish from the edge of the box. Millwall were level on 24 minutes when Shaun Hutchinson powerfully headed home from a pinpoint corner.

The visitors restored their lead on 56 minutes from a well worked build up when full back Antonee Robinson finished from a tight angle, but the hosts were not to be denied and substitute Matt Smith rose high above Robinson to head the equaliser.

Under pressure manager Paul Cook will have been relieved to see his side manage a draw after gaining only one point from the previous five games.

But Cook’s team are now in a precarious position as they slipped to 21st place in the Championship table and could be in the relegation zone if Middlesbrough defeat Barnsley on Wednesday night.

Cook made three changes from the defeat against Stoke City, with Kieffer Moore, Dujon Sterling and Pilkington all coming into the starting eleven. Cook desperately needed a good result and adopted an unlikely 4-4-2 formation with Moore and Joe Garner filling the striker roles.

Latics started on the front foot and were ahead after only two minutes when Moore’s knock down found Pilkington on the edge of the area and the midfielder produced a sublime left foot finish past Bartosz Bialkowski.

Soon afterwards Pilkington had a great chance to double the lead from another Moore knock down but this time he fired wide of the target.

The hosts gradually gained a foothold and started to have more possession, they were level on 24 minutes when Hutchinson climbed high above Charlie Mulgrew to head home a corner from Jed Wallace.

Moore might have restored Latics’ lead on 38 minutes but his header was well saved by Bialkowski at close range from a Pilkington corner.

Despite some occasional passages of good football the match was predominantly about long high balls and physical battles.

Probably the best passage of football resulted in Latics second goal. Chey Dunkley sent a long diagonal pass to Garner who chested the ball down, swivelled and laid the ball into the path of Robinson who drove the ball low past Bialkowski from a tight angle.

But the hosts were soon level as Shaun Williams was allowed far too much room on the left and his cross found substitute Smith on the penalty spot and the big striker powered his header beyond Marshall.

Millwall continued their aerial bombardment of the Latics penalty area with Smith the centrepiece of their attacks.

In an attempt to nullify the threat Cook changed formation to a 3-5-2 on 64 minutes, with Cedric Kipre replacing Pilkington in a back three.

Latics responded well and had a series of dangerous attacks, first Pilkington saw a free-kick saved by Bialkowski then Garner and Macleod both fired straight at the Millwall keeper from good positions.

They went closest to scoring when Jamal Lowe chipped to the back post for Garner and the ball nearly crossed the line but was headed away by Hutchinson.

For once there was no late winner from the opposition and Latics secured only their third away point of the season.

The style of football was not great and Latics still lack creativity but at least the players produced a committed performance and Cook looks to have kept his job, at least in the short term.

Posted in Anthony Pilkington, Antonee Robinson, Shaun Hutchinson, Wigan Athletic | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Are Paul Cook’s days at Wigan Athletic numbered? Stoke City 2 Wigan Athletic 1

Under pressure manager Paul Cook

Wigan Athletic manager Paul Cook’s days must surely be numbered after another poor away performance and after conceding another late goal in the 2-1 defeat at struggling Stoke City.

Cook’s team have only won one of their last 30 away games and hover just above the Championship relegation zone. The away form is abysmal and the previously good home form has deteriorated in recent weeks. A change is surely in the offing?

Latics went in front at the Bet 365 Stadium when captain Samy Morsy capitalised on some poor defending by the hosts but in a one-sided second half they succumbed to Danny Batth’s set-piece equaliser and substitute Mame Biram Diouf’s 93rd minute winner.

Latics remain in 20th spot in the Championship table but are now only one point above the relegation drop zone and 22nd place Stoke.

Cook made four changes to the starting line-up from the 3-0 defeat at home to Brentford with Charlie Mulgrew, Joe Garner, Gavin Massey and Nathan Byrne coming into the team.

Latics were under pressure early on and were grateful to goalkeeper David Marshall for keeping them level.

Former Latic James McClean forced an excellent save from the Scotland number one before another ex Latic Nick Powell looked to have given Stoke the lead with a header but Marshall managed to tip the ball onto the cross bar.

Tom Ince blazed over for the hosts after seven minutes and it looked only a matter of time before they would take the lead but Latics somehow survived the initial onslaught.

The hosts inability to convert their chances gave Latics some hope and they had chances themselves when Jamal Lowe’s searching cross nearly found Gavin Massey at the back post and Chey Dunkley had a glorious opportunity to put them ahead from a corner but he headed narrowly wide of the target.

On 39 minutes a quick Latics counter-attack did give them the lead. Lowe broke out from defence and accelerated past several defenders and although he kicked the ball too far ahead Stoke keeper Jack Butland only kicked the ball against his own player and Morsy was able to capitalise on the keeper’s mistake for his first goal of the season.

Latics had rode their luck but were ahead at the interval and the prospects for at least a point looked promising.

But ten minutes after half time Stoke were level as Latics conceded a free-kick on the left hand side and they failed to defend the near post allowing defender Batth to score an easy equaliser.

Stoke were now exerting considerable pressure on the Latics goal and Cook went to a 4-4-2 formation, with Kieffer Moore replacing Lewis Macleod, in an attempt to change the direction of travel.

Michael Jacobs later replaced Massey and the statutory Cook substitution Kal Naismith came on for the last 10 minutes to replace Garner.

Marshall made another good save to deny Ince and Joe Allen volleyed narrowly wide on 92 minutes so it looked as though Latics might hold out for the draw, but their inability to manage out the game once again proved costly.

On 93 minutes Biram Diouf exploited some shambolic defending to gift Stoke all three points and condemn Cook’s team to yet another away defeat.

Cook’s fate is now in the balance after another defeat, the owners Next Leader Limited (NLL) and the Board of Directors may decide to give him more time with fixtures  against Millwall (A) and Reading (H) coming up, but they must decide very soon whether they want to persist with Cook and risk the prospect of relegation.

Posted in Danny Batth, Mame Biram Diouf', Samy Morsy, Wigan Athletic | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Review: Can we have our football back? How the Premier League is ruining football and what we can do about it… by John Nicholson

Can we

In ‘Can We Have Our Football Back?’ Football365 writer John Nicholson produces a coruscating attack on the excesses of the Premier League and provides an optimistic blueprint for a football revolution.

Nicholson wants to put an end to the Premier League, an end to the financial model upon which it is founded, an end to paywall TV, and an end to the astronomical wages, transfer fees and agents fees.

He wants to see a more sane, less abusive, more competitive, more fun and less venal competition, which puts fans at the centre of everything and works for the advantage of everyone, not just a tiny elite.

Sky TV is the main reason why the Premier League is awash with money but the perceived view that football on subscription TV is reaching a wide audience is misleading. Nicholson explains that football behind a paywall isn’t popular and really doesn’t get big audiences.

For example, in 2019 the Liverpool v Fulham game was shown on Sky and watched by 1.5m people. At the same time the BBC was showing Millwall versus Brighton in the FA Cup, which was watched by an audience of 4.4m people.

The vast majority of homes in the UK do not have Sky subscriptions. Sky gets 1-2m viewers per game for Premier League games and about 750,000 if the game is between two smaller clubs.

Currently only about 4% of the population have a Sky subscription. Nicholson’s stone cold truth is that the majority of the football public simply rejects the idea of paying to watch football. He states that if we want football to reach the general public it should be restored to terrestrial TV.

One of the main problems with the Premier League is that it is no longer competitive with the top six dominating. But before the Premier League existed, things were different.

The league was much more competitive and less predictable. You had no idea who was going to win the title, and in many ways, even better than that, you had no idea who would finish in the European places.

Sadly money is now the foremost factor in the Premier League and it taints the sport, making it hard to disagree with Nicholson’s analysis.

The style of writing can be a little disconcerting at times and may not be to everyone’s liking but it’s still an absorbing read. Nicholson interviews players, journalists and broadcasters about what is wrong with the Premier League and puts together some compelling arguments about the need for change.

Nicholson has a long list of commendable reforms which will transform football, but the initial catalyst will be the collective boycott of paywall TV when everyone cancels their direct debits.

Some may regard Nicholson as an idealist whose ideas will never come to fruition but there is an increasing mood for change as fans are becoming disenchanted with the predictability of the Premier League and the obscene amounts of money involved.

Can we have our football back? How the Premier League is ruining football and what we can do about it… by John Nicholson, Published by Head Publishing, Price £10.

This review first appeared in the November/December edition of Late Tackle magazine.

Posted in Book Reviews, John Nicholson, Late Tackle magazine, Premier League, Wigan Athletic | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Desperate day at the DW – Wigan Athletic 0 Brentford 3

Paul Cook

Paul Cook needs to address the poor form

Wigan Athletic turned in their worst performance of the season as they slumped to a 3-0 defeat against Brentford at the DW Stadium.

Latics were behind after only five minutes as some dreadful defending allowed Bryan Mbeumo to stab the ball home from close range.

Kamohelo Mokotjo increased the Bees advantage midway through the second half as he lashed the ball home from the edge of the box.

When Cedric Kipre was dismissed for a second bookable offence on 73 minutes matters went from bad to worse as first Josh Dasilva fired into the top corner of the net for the third before Joe Gelhardt was knocked unconscious and Latics ended the game with nine men.

Brentford had Julian Jeanvier sent off after the Gelhardt incident following a clash with Joe Williams but it was Latics who ended the game in complete disarray.

Paul Cook made one change to the team defeated 2-1 by Swansea last time out with Michael Jacobs replacing Gavin Massey.

Brentford started briskly and Latics were on the back foot almost immediately.

The Bees were ahead after only five minutes with the Latics defence all at sea.

Christian Norgaard was allowed to head towards goal unchallenged in the area, David Marshall spilled his header and Mbeumo scored from close range despite the best efforts of Kipre.

The expected response from Latics failed to materialise as they struggled to create any clear cut chances.

Kieffer Moore did fire wide of the target from 30 yards but it was a rare foray.

Brentford 1-0 ahead at the interval and Latics would have to improve significantly if they were to get back in the game.

Cook introduced Joe Gelhardt and Josh Windass soon after the interval as he attempted to get Latics back in the game but it was not long before Mokotjo doubled the lead for the visitors from the edge of the area.

Matters soon got worse as Kipre was sent off for a second bookable offence.

On 83 minutes an impressive Brentford sealed the three points with an emphatic finish from 25 yards by Dasilva.

To compound Latics misery young England starlet Gelhardt was knocked unconscious and had to be stretchered off in added time.

Following the initial incident, Joe Williams and Julian Jeanvier were involved in an altercation and the Latics midfielder was booked and the Brentford defender sent off.

But it was far too late to have any impact on the final outcome and Latics slipped to another defeat and closer to the relegation zone.

Despite some improved recent performances this was a sorry display by Cook’s men. Shambolic defending, poor decision-making in midfield and toothless in attack.

The players should take a good look at themselves after such a dispiriting display but the manager also needs to rethink his strategies.

After such an impressive appearance last week Gelhardt should’ve started against Brentford but Cook persisted with the out of form Michael Jacobs.

Moore is also struggling to make an impact and is low on confidence so it could be time to give him a break and try something new.

Without Charlie Mulgrew, the defence lacks organisation and his calming presence was sorely missed yesterday. Hopefully he will return after the international break.


Posted in Brentford, Bryan Mbeumo, Championship, Josh Dasilva, Kamohelo Mokotjo, Paul Cook, Wigan Athletic | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Late sucker punch sinks Latics – Wigan Athletic 1 Swansea City 2

Joe Gelhardt

England youth star Joe Gelhardt

Despite creating the better chances and looking the most likely winners Wigan Athletic suffered an injury time 2-1 defeat to Swansea City.

Swansea has taken an early lead through Nathan Dyer but Latics drew level from Kieffer Moore’s penalty after Chey Dunkley had been fouled in the box.

Latics wasted several good opportunities with Moore in particular failing to capitalise on a one-on-one with the Swans keeper Freddie Woodman and having his shot blocked by Mike van der Hoorn.

But with match heading towards a draw Connor Roberts crossed for Sam Surridge to head home in the 92nd minute and break Latics’ hearts.

Swansea go second in the Championship table while Latics slip down to 20th place.

Paul Cook named an unchanged line up from the recent 2-2 draw at Bristol City. England youth star Joe Gelhardt was once again named on the bench.

The visitors opened the scoring on 12 minutes when Nathan Dyer converted Bersant Celina’s cut back from the byeline.

Latics quickly responded and Moore couldn’t direct Jamal Lowe’s cross past Woodman. Soon afterwards Dunkley headed over from Joe Williams’ corner.

Moore then headed wide after Lowe’s cross found the striker at the back post.

But Latics were level though on 20 minutes when Moore scored his first goal for the club from the penalty spot.

Dunkley was pulled back inside the box by van der Hoorn and Moore stepped up to score his first Latics goal in 13 appearances since joining from Barnsley.

All level at the break but Latics upped their game in the second half and had the chances to put the game to bed.

Lowe turned away from Ben Wilmot on the left and saw his effort from the edge of the box clip the angle of bar and post.

With 20 minutes remaining Cook finally gave Gelhardt his chance from the bench and the young striker almost immediately made an impact.

Gelhardt produced a slide rule pass to play in Moore with a clear run on goal but as the striker shot, van der Hoorn got back to make the vital block.

Latics then had another great opportunity when captain Samy Morsy looked odds on to score from inside the box but his shot was agonisingly deflected just over the crossbar.

Swansea then delivered the sucker punch in added time with Surridge heading home Roberts’ cross.

As in the recent games against Derby County and Bristol City, Latics had been the better team but a failure to be clinical in the final third had once again proved costly.

It is fairly obvious that Latics’ current failings lie in the forward line and the introduction of a goal scorer is crucial.

Young England striker Gelhardt fits that bill and showed what he can do as a late substitute against the Swans and must now be given his chance with a start against Brentford.

Gelhardt is an instinctive finisher who can play through the centre or out on the left wing but his best position is probably in the number ten role just behind big striker Moore.

Cook has been reluctant to start the 17 -year-old in the Championship but his brief minutes of the pitch have already demonstrated his potential to help turn Latics’ season around.

Posted in Championship, Joe Gelhardt, Kieffer Moore, Nathan Dyer, Sam Surridge, Wigan Athletic | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Dunkley double not enough to see Latics over the line – Bristol City 2 Wigan Athletic 2

Chey Dunkley Dunkley brace not enough for Latics

Despite being the dominant team Latics failed to secure the away victory that they crave and had to settle for a 2-2 draw at Bristol City. Andreas Weimann had given City the lead but the visitors were ahead with two goals from centre-back Chey Dunkley and had the chances to seal the three points but were pegged back in the 85th minute through Pedro Pereira.

The hosts were vying to go second in the Championship table but it was the visitors who looked the more likely winners at Ashton Gate. Latics wasted several good goalscoring opportunities and had 19 shots to City’s nine.

Gavin Massey had the best chance with a one-on-one but shot tamely straight at keeper Daniel Bentley and Latics should have been awarded a penalty when a City defender handled the ball in the box.

Latics will feel this was a great opportunity for a first away win of the season but it had been thrown away.

Bristol City remain sixth in the Championship table while Latics move up one place to 18th.

Paul Cook made one change to the starting line up with Cedric Kipre replacing the injured Charlie Mulgrew.

Latics created two good opportunities in the opening 21 minutes with Kipre heading straight at Bentley and then Samy Morsy forcing another save from the Bristol City stopper.

Jamal Lowe was next to go close when his right footed effort from the inside the box was deflected just over the crossbar by a late Ashley Williams intervention. Dunkley then headed over the crossbar from the resulting corner.

Massey curled an effort wide of the far post on the half hour but on 38 minutes some calamitous Latics defending gifted Bristol City the lead.

Dunkley failed to head away in the area and Latics’ other defenders were all at sea as Andreas Weimann dispatched a low shot past Marshall for 1-0.

Latics quickly responded and a cross from Lowe was clearly handled in the area by a defender but referee John Brooks waved away the Latics’ players appeals.

But two minutes later Latics were level when from a Joe Williams corner Kieffer Moore flicked on and Dunkley redeemed his earlier mistake by smashing the ball home for the equaliser.

The visitors started the second half brightly and they went ahead on 53 minutes when Dunkley grabbed his second. The big centre-back rose to meet Williams’ corner and powered his header over the line despite the desperate attempts of Bentley.

Latics best opportunity to seal all three points came on 59 minutes as Moore sent Massey racing free on goal and with Morsy to his left and just the keeper to beat, the winger shot tamely straight at Bentley.

The visitors continued to threaten but they were unable to capitalise on their chances and it was to prove costly.

With five minutes of normal time remaining Latics allowed Pereira to rise unchallenged at the near post to make it 2-2.

Matters could have got worse two minutes later had it not been for David Marshall. The Latics keeper made a brilliant save to deny Weimann when he appeared odds-on to score.

This had been a great opportunity to break the away day hoodoo but Latics failure to be clinical in the final third proved costly.

Latics haven’t won away since August last year and Cook’s reluctance to utilise prolific youth striker Joe Gelhardt is a big mystery. Latics are crying out for a clinical finisher but the manager stubbornly refuses to give the young starlet any game time.

Posted in Andreas Weimann, Bristol City, Chey Dunkley, Paul Cook, Pedro Pereira, Wigan Athletic | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment