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Paul Cook: Wigan enjoying life in the Championship

| 21.09.2018

The Wigan boss talks exclusively to Coral News

After tearing up League One last season, Wigan Athletic have made an impressive start in the Championship this term.

They have an exciting young team and a manager who’s getting the best out of them in Paul Cook. The Latics currently sit eighth, although they’re only outside the play-off spots on goal difference.

They’re Evens to beat Bristol City at home on Friday night, and ahead of the game the Coral News Team spoke exclusively to the Wigan boss…

Coral News: Wigan had a great season last year to win promotion. How’s life in the Championship been so far?

Paul Cook: We’re enjoying it, the league is what everyone told us it would be like. It’s very competitive. It’s relentless in terms of the games that come thick and fast.

We’re going to our third game in six days against Bristol City on Friday, so while it’s very tough, it’s also very enjoyable.

CN: Bristol had won four in a row before their loss to West Bromwich Albion in midweek. How are you feeling ahead of the game?

PC: I’m looking forward to it. It’ll be a good game. We’re playing a very strong side under a manager who’s done well in this league over a period of time.

They’re a solid club who probably have aspirations to get into the play-offs, maybe even higher.

We know we’re in for a very difficult game, but it’s one we’re looking forward to.

Will Grigg

CN: Wigan’s attacking play really stood out in League One last year, have you had to tweak your approach in the Championship?

PC: We’re trying to keep our philosophy on how we want the game to be played into all of our matches.

At the minute, things are going quite well in relation to that, but we’re fully aware that can change quickly with the calibre of opposition we’re up against.

CN: You’ve also got a young squad at Wigan, do you see developing talent as one of the key parts of your job?

PC: Yeah, young lads normally want to learn. Sometimes they have to make mistakes while they’re learning, but that’s part of the process of becoming a better footballer.

For me as a manager, we all make mistakes, but if we learn from them and go out there and do better the next time, then the likelihood is we’ll see improvements in performance and results as well.

CN: Nick Powell’s really impressed this term with his goals and assists. How big an influence is he on the side?

PC: He’s a very talented boy and he’s having an exceptional season.

He’s now injury-free and he’s managed to train every day for a period of time now. The injuries have cleared completely and Nick’s enjoying his football a lot. You can see that in his performances.

He’s playing really well in a team that enjoys having Nick in it.

CN: You’re unbeaten at the DW Stadium so far this season. How important is it to have that solid base at home?

PC: We just want to keep going. The aspiration at the start of the season was to stay in the league. That was our challenge and then to build from there.

The unbeaten home record will end at some point, like all things do. But with the start we’ve had – Hull City, Rotherham, Nottingham Forest, Sheffield Wednesday – we’re delighted to be unbeaten and if that can stay intact after the Bristol City game, everyone at the club would be really pleased.

DW Stadium

CN: How important will the Wigan fans be to any success this season?

PC: The fans are very important. Nowadays, unfortunately for football in general, fans at a lot of clubs are quickly getting on the manager and player’s backs.

The negativity through the media towards bad results is unreal now. The history of football says teams will get beaten. But the history of football also says supporting your team is a weekly thing.

Wigan fans are fantastic. They get behind the team, they travel in really good numbers. They’re very supportive of not just myself, but the players too, week in, week out and for that we’re very appreciative.

CN: You said staying up was the aim this season. It’s still early but the play-off spots are in sight. Could a second promotion in a row be a possibility?

PC: If we were to stay up this year, whether we do it quickly or on the last day, that would be the level of success that we’re after.

Once we’ve achieved that, if that is to be the case, any points we could gain towards moving up the table would be great.

At the minute, we’re certainly not getting carried away with our league position or thinking about the play-offs. It’s a very unforgiving league and bad runs are never far away for most clubs. We’re just going to prepare ourselves for the next game properly and hopefully get three points.

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Daniel Anwar

Daniel has written about sport for Coral, Squawka, FourFourTwo and the Premier League, among others.