You can’t help but love Paul Cook after such a great opening to his tenure as Wigan Athletic manager. Cook has won five, drawn one and lost one of his opening seven games and the style of football has been an absolute pleasure to watch.
Gone are the dour defensive days of Warren Joyce’s time in charge. Cook has quickly eliminated the despondency of last season and created an upbeat feeling around the club.
Last Saturday the performance against Portsmouth was a case in point as they set about their opponents right from the kick off.
Portsmouth had to contend with wave after wave of attacks and looked shellshocked as Cook’s team provided a feast of attacking football.
Latics created chance after chance in the opening half and went ahead through Ivan Toney after only eight minutes.
Toney could easily have had a hat trick and Nick Powell hit the crossbar and forced Luke McGee into a reflex save as Latics were in total control.
How Latics weren’t five or six goals ahead at half time was a complete mystery to everyone inside the DW Stadium.
After Chey Dunkley was red carded Portsmouth got an unlikely equaliser but Latics still had plenty more chances.
Will Grigg should’ve sealed the three points when he had a golden chance but headed straight at McGee. But surely it is only a matter of time before Cook’s attack minded team gives someone a serious hiding.
On paper, Cook’s formation of 4-2-3-1 might appear negative to some, with two holding players in front of the back four, but the shield of Morsy and Evans gives the four offensive players the freedom to get forward at every opportunity.
Cook’s style of football has been exhilarating and the way that the team constantly push forward is providing great viewing for the fans.
Comparisons with another scouser and former Latics’ manager Paul Jewell are inevitable.
Jewell’s team won the Division Two championship in 2002–03 with a points total of 100 and with a run of 10 consecutive wins along the way. The club lost only four times all season as they secured promotion.
Although it’s still early in the season Cook’s team look capable of emulating Jewell’s success. But like Jewell’s game-at-a-time philosophy, Cook won’t be getting carried away and will want to keep expectations contained at this stage in the campaign.
It’s a pity that we’ve no game this weekend due to the International call ups, but it’s important recognition of the hard work done by Sam Morsy (Eqypt) and Lee Evans (Wales) who have been key to Latics’ excellent start to the season.
This article was first published in the Wigan Evening Post on Friday 1st September 2017.