Cook Off

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A Paul Cook fan writes…

There’s managers who get it, and there’s managers who don’t and I’m fairly sure Paul Cook does. There’s managers who come in and win stuff and managers who just talk a good game, and I’m always prepared to give the former more chance than the latter.

Losing two home games by three clear goals is not good for morale, and whereas there has been a ridiculous over-reaction in some quarters, well, it’s clear that something isn’t right at the moment. There is plenty time to fix it, and I hope that Cookie is the man tasked with doing that job. We also have little to no idea what is going on behind the scenes – we can only look at the activity during the January transfer window for indicators as to where the new owners ambitions lie.

But first let us look where we are: in a perilous state perhaps? Or maybe exactly where we expected to be. A million and one Latics fans trotted out the line about finishing 21st being a success back in August, especially given our two previous relegations. We are currently on track to achieve that, so maybe expectations have changed, partly due to the impressive start we made and secondly because nobody likes losing football matches – and we’ve lost quite a lot recently. All rationality goes out of the window and dummies get spat out.

Yet, before I go all happy clapper on you, I feel like I should also repeat what I said earlier: something isn’t right at the minute, we have lost that spark that Cook ignited into the team. The spark and energy that won League One last season, fighting off some pretty stern competition and put several Premier League teams to the sword in the FA Cup. We carried that on in the early part of this season, the much fabled momentum of promotion carrying us through many games as we fearlessly took it many of the slumbering giants that wallow in the Championship.

You may recall that our early season results were littered with 3-2’s, 2-2 and a barnstorming 3-0 trouncing of Stoke on their own patch. I’d have taken 3-2’s all season, wins or losses – they aren’t very good for the heart but they show that we are having a go. Now, it looks like we have stopped having a go and the 3-2’s are unsurprisingly turning into 0-3’s. Let us not forget, we ARE one of the smallest clubs in this division with low crowds and wage bills so we might not be in a false position in the table. The game against Derby was a game where we lost, but we fought hard and I think the majority of fans walked off appreciative, despite the result.

If we’re accepting 21st place as a reasonable outcome, then we are going to have to accept losing more games than we win, but it is the manner in which we are losing them, which is grating the most. We seem to be losing without a fight, and once that initial team that started the season got broken up due to injuries, we simply haven’t got our mojo back (did I really use that phrase? Sorry, but it sums it up nicely). Without mentioning individuals, the back up has been somewhat below par or lacking in heart and application but then in some games like Blackburn and Swansea (first half) they have shown exactly the sort of desire required to haul us up the table.

The other worrying factor is that this downturn in form seems to have coincided with the new owners taking over, and one must wonder whether Paul Cook has concerns about his own future, in much the same way he did at Pompey. I’m sure given some of the comments aimed at him on social media in the last few days, some fans would be delighted, but I would be devastated. We are too quick to turn on a manager when they go through a rough patch, even when that manager has earned the right to a bit of faith and support, having taken the team up to a higher division.

I can’t see anyone out there who I would rather have manage our club than Paul Cook right now, and we know from painful experience that replacing managers midway through the Championship season doesn’t always work. Let us hope that IEC give him the funds to strengthen the team to get us playing without fear again and a period where we can all calm down rather than encounter more upheaval.

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