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"OUR FANS WILL TRAVEL TO BIRMINGHAM IN GREAT SPIRITS." - PAUL COOK

26 April 2019

  • iFollow Latics - Paul Cook pre-Birmingham City.
  • Latics have lost just once in their last seven outings.
  • The gaffer hoping to build on the Easter weekend success.

Speaking to iFollow Latics ahead of our final away fixture of the 2018-19 Sky Bet Championship season, Paul Cook said there's still plenty to play for now despite securing safety over the Easter weekend.

The gaffer began:

"It's been a good week hasn't it? When you go through what we've been through, the will we, won't we and all of the scenarios that only time can deliver, to then finish it on Bank Holiday Monday is great credit to the players.

"We always knew we had to gain points to get safe, but for the lads to go out and get seven points from the nine available was great. We always wanted to come off the pitch and not rely on other teams to lose matches in order to keep our status in the league.

"I'm delighted and now the season can play out as it will. The game against Birmingham carries a lot less on it, but if the results were to go Rotherham's way this weekend, our final home game against Millwall could have a lot riding on it, so we have to keep ourselves going for the final two matches."

Latics' current run of form has seen just one defeat in the last seven matches, something Cook hopes his side can build on in the final two games, with a points tally and higher league position to think of.

"We're nine games unbeaten at home, I'd say that's alright at this level.

"We've lost one of our last season games and that was at Hull City in the 89th minute.
"Criticism is a minute away from every football manager, that's just part and parcel of the game and I accept that, but our lads have been doing okay.

"Within the 'okay', they've now stayed up comfortably. Can we get beyond the 50 point barrier? Can we get to another league position higher in the table? All of those questions remain to be answered, but the biggest target at the start of the season was to remain in the league and we've done that."

Cook continued:

"At the moment, the most important thing is to see the season out. One of the good things about football is that it's like kids at Christmas, as soon as you wake up on Boxing Day, you're counting the days down to the next Christmas.

"Let us get over this season. There's a lot of work goes on behind the scenes as you can imagine within our recruitment department, infrastructure, match reports and technical reports on players, but the important thing for us is to draw a line in the sand.

"Once we've drawn that line, can we move forward? That will all be sorted in the summer and certainly today is not the day to talk about it.

"We have to finish strongly, without a shadow of a doubt. For all teams who fall into the bracket of 'nothing to play for', there's still plenty to play for internally.

"We go to Birmingham buoyed now that we've won away from home... imagine winning two on the bounce away from home.

"Our fans will travel in great heart tomorrow and I'm sure they're all looking forward to it.

"At 1-0 down against Leeds last week we're looking towards the Preston and Birmingham games being must win. We've got to prepare for the last two in as similar way as possible because we've jumped above Reading, QPR and Millwall in the league. Can we kick on and have a finish to the season that everyone says 'well done Wigan'."

On Garry Monk's Birmingham City and the challenge ahead of Latics in their final away game of the season, Cook added:

"Birmingham have had a fantastic season, but their troubles are there for all to see.

"Garry has overcome all of those troubles like he does, in style. From being on the verge of the play-offs to looking over their shoulders a bit.

"Birmingham are a lot stronger than that, they've got really good players, so I'm not so sure they were ever really in any trouble, although the points tally didn't help.

"Garry will be looking for them to finish the season in whatever way he deems to be correct, whether that's giving squad players a game or whatever it is. Birmingham will be one of the strongest teams in the division next season, that's for sure."

Regarding team news, the gaffer added:

"We've got a couple of hiccups and different things, but sometimes it's better to keep things closer to your chest.

"We have got one or two issues which will come out over the next week or so with a few injuries, the normal stuff with lads who might have been carrying knocks."

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