Latics’ manager Paul Cook is deservedly getting plenty of media attention after a superb start to his career at the DW Stadium. The popular Scouser has steered Latics to second in the table and they are gradually closing the gap on leaders Shrewsbury Town.
Cook was awarded Manager of the Month for October after leading his side through an unbeaten month, collecting 11 points from a possible 15. Latics attacking play secured important away wins at Scunthorpe and Blackpool and they remain unbeaten in the league at home.
Since taking over the hot seat in May, Cook and his coaching team have created a positive atmosphere around the club. Cook’s banter and plain speaking has endeared him to the fans and the players have responded with improved performances on the pitch.
He recently commented in an interview with Sky Sports,
“… I don’t think there’s enough emphasis on team spirit and good lads, work ethic and a desire to do well together.”
Allied to a consistent formation of 4-2-3-1, he has introduced an attractive passing style of play, which has delivered results.
He certainly has the potential to be successful, like another Liverpudlian Paul Jewell who led the club from the third tier to the Premier League between 2001 and 2005.
Cook knows the lower divisions very well having got Chesterfield and Portsmouth promoted, but he has also played at the top level in the Premier League with Coventry City.
Cook aspires to manage in the Premier League one day even though opportunities for home-grown managers are now few and far between as managers from around the world dominate.
Of the few English managers at the top level, Eddie Howe at Bournemouth and Sean Dyche at Burnley both understand the importance of team spirit and work ethic. Both their teams demonstrate willingness to battle and Latics under Cook have a similar vibe.
Cook has brought his coaching team with him from Portsmouth and ‘old hands’ Gary Roberts and Noel Hunt, and this has certainly helped the team spirit and the upbeat feeling has been transferred to the pitch.
Latics do have plenty of talented players and with the addition of some intelligent free transfers and loan signings the squad now looks very strong at this level.
Cook’s team will have one of their sternest tests of the season tomorrow as they come up against fourth placed Bradford City at the DW Stadium.
The Bantams just missed out on promotion last season when they lost 1-0 to Millwall in the Play-off final at Wembley. They are likely to be in the promotion mix at the end of this season, so Latics will have to be at their best if they are to maintain their unbeaten home league record.
This article was first published in the Wigan Evening Post on Friday 17th November 2017.