“Got the man we wanted” so said David Sharpe as he unveiled Paul Cook on Wednesday afternoon, it’s open to debate whether Cook actually was the man we wanted. If rumours are to be believed there were some above Cook on that list, but if Cook wasn’t necessarily our first choice increasingly he looks like the right choice.
An ex-Wigan player revered by those who saw him play in the eighties, a manager who has an excellent track record in the lower leagues, someone with a clear philosophy and a clear idea of how his teams should play. A successful manager with a habit of winning and developing players. Cook is probably the kind of manager that we should have targeted to replace Gary Caldwell.
He certainly would have been a better option than Warren Joyce, even if Cook wasn’t our first choice his appointment makes a lot of sense and for the first time in a long while he should have the full support of all of the Wigan Athletic fanbase – well until August at least.
The amount of anger coming from the South Coast and the Pompey fans who have lost their manager tells you all you need to know, despite what those Portsmouth fans would have you believe they’re clearly disappointed to lose a manager who had got them promoted back to League One this season. It’s probably a surprise as well considering he said he would only leave Portsmouth if he was forced out, there’s two ways of looking that. Obviously Wigan Athletic offered him an attractive package and he clearly sees his future better served back in the North West than on the South Coast.
What can we expect from Cook and his team next season? Both Cook and Sharpe spoke confidently on Wednesday about keeping the bulk of the squad together, that’s important. There’ll naturally be movement and changes in the squad but for the first time for a few seasons the squad shouldn’t need a major overhaul. Crucially the squad should be able to fit in to Cook’s style of play and philosophy, that wasn’t the case under Warren Joyce.
It’s very early days, but for the first time in a long while it feels like we’ve given a bit of thought to our managerial approach. As one club legend arrives one departs, I was disappointed to see Graham Barrow leave the club earlier this week and thought there may have been a space for him alongside his old team mate in a new managerial structure. Although it’s probably the right time for Graham to move on, we should remember what he has contributed to Latics in three separate spells. He’s been a constant presence at the club since Roberto took over and has served the club fantastically well ever since he arrived as a player in 1981.
Things will no doubt quieten down now until pre-season training begins in a few weeks’ time, I said last season that League One shouldn’t hold any fears for Latics. We’ve been there before and been successful and we can do so again, hopefully Paul Cook can help us to be as successful as we were the last time we were in this division.
First published in the Wigan Post, Friday 2nd June 2017