- Preview: Paul Cook focuses on Bristol Rovers v Wigan Athletic.
- Latics travel to the Memorial Stadium with a fully fit squad.
- Paul Cook - "It's a very difficult place to go and play."
Speaking to iFollow Latics at the Wigan Athletic Training Centre on Monday morning, Latics boss Paul Cook shared his thoughts on the weekend's 1-0 victory over Rochdale and his side's trip to Bristol Rovers on Tuesday night.
PC on Rochdale win
"The team performance wasn’t great by any stretch of the imagination on Saturday but we made a decision on Friday that we needed to freshen things up. There were a lot of lads who had no relationships at all, with the likes of Jay Fulton and Jamie Walker making their full home debuts, Donervon Daniels coming back in and James Vaughan as well, so to get the win was vital.
"We told the lads that only one result mattered and that was winning the game, it wasn’t about how we played, tactics or formation, so we must give them great credit for that."
PC on Michael Jacobs
"If you look at Dan Burn for example, I don’t think you could have a player playing any better than him at the moment. Has given Dan the captaincy against Manchester City made him a better player? No, not in my opinion because he’s having an outstanding season. I spoke with him about giving Michael a little bit more responsibility because he has to sometimes believe in himself more.
"He can be unplayable sometimes and he needs to feel that more himself. We felt giving him the captain’s armband on Saturday would give him a little bit more belief and that we all believe in him strongly. If he didn’t travel in everyday in Dan Burn’s car I don’t think he’d have been so easy to give it to him! It was a show of strength for the squad rather than anything individual."
PC on team news
"We’re full strength now and great credit must go to Proccy (Andrew Proctor) and Nick Meace for their work with all the rehabilitation. Powelly (Nick Powell), Nathan Byrne and Samy Morsy are all fit and available so I couldn’t be happier from that point of view. The whole squad has got a feel good factor and that’s massively important."
PC on team selection
"We must take one game at a time and that’s important. Sometimes people can get ahead of themselves in football but for us it’s all about Bristol Rovers on Tuesday night. To be fair to Blackburn, Shrewsbury and Rotherham, they’re setting an amazing pace and are relentless and just won’t go away.
"Our points tally at the moment is 66 with games in hand which is a fantastic return but it’s nowhere near good enough yet. We must focus on the next game and keep doing our bit and making sure we win it."
PC on Bristol Rovers’ pitch
"I think all pitches are like they are this time of year. Our pitch is very bobbly and that’s what football does.
"We’ve had a winter and the frost is here so it’s difficult for groundsmen across the country, but that’s part and parcel of football. We know we’re not going to be on a carpet of a pitch tomorrow night but that’s not Bristol Rovers’ fault, that’s just the way football is so we know what we’re going into and the team will be picked in and around that."
PC on James Vaughan
"I thought James was excellent on Saturday and we had a couple of really good performances in difficult circumstances. He was one of them and he’s come in and is chomping at the bit to play. He’s an exceptionally good lad, good player and works very hard for his team.
"He’ll create goals for others and within that now we probably have the ability to play him and Will together at times because I do think that combination would yield goals. We’re really lucky to be in the position we’re in today with the players we have, and hopefully they’ll all play in their part in future success."
PC on Bristol Rovers
"They’re a good side and Darrell Clarke’s had an exceptional career there since they suffered relegation. They’ve had back-to-back promotions and he’s done astoundingly well.
"The club in general will want to go again and to do that the squad probably needs some work, but that’s for Darrell and his coaching staff to do. It’s a very difficult place to play in terms of the pressure they put you under and the balls they put in your area. They’ve got good players all over the pitch and they’re a threat, they really are."
PC on the away support
"The support has been amazing throughout but my big thing is for people to manage their disappointments. There were a few boos at half time against Blackpool for example yet six days later we beat Manchester City, so we can’t have it every way.
"We want the fans to stay with their team and at half time is when your team needs the support the most in my opinion. I’m not criticizing our fans in any way shape or form by the way, I just want to make them happy and to do that we must get promoted.
"The FA Cup has been a massive bonus for everyone but our bread and butter is the league. We’re going to need our fans’ support at all times."