The gaffer sits down to discuss Latics' Sky Bet Championship clash with Ipswich Town and gets a little surprise from his coaching staff on his birthday.
- iFollow Latics: Paul Cook's Ipswich Town preview.
- The gaffer discusses our warm-weather break, Gary Roberts' new contract and the visit of the Tractor Boys.
- "We're delighted with the fixtures we have remaining." - Paul Cook.
Speaking to iFollow Latics on his 52nd birthday, Paul Cook's coaching team had a little surprise for the boss during his usual pre-match press call...
😂😂 Happy Birthday, gaffer!#wafc 🔵⚪️💚— Wigan Athletic (@LaticsOfficial) February 22, 2019
"It was a tough game on the Wednesday against Stoke City. We started the game quite well, but it slowly went in Stoke's favour as it progressed into the latter stages of the game. We were pleased to get a point and move on, and with no game at the weekend we saw it as a great opportunity to take the lads away and better integrate the new faces into the squad.
"We had a game against Shanghai (SIPG) which went very well and it allowed us to give everyone some minutes.
"The lads thoroughly enjoyed the trip. Since we've been back we've prepared really well for Ipswich, so we're very much looking forward to the game.
"It's been tough, but we're in a very lucky profession. If you put our tough schedule into the real world it's nowhere near as tough as some people have it. In football terms it's been a tough season, but really tough, I'm not so sure.
"One of the crucial things for us was our squad being stretched over the winter months, but since the transfer window has gone by, the reality is that our numbers are good, the competition for places is good and picking people to go on the bench is tough.
"We're playing a little bit of catch up on where we realistically want to be because I do feel that there have been a few more points in us. We'd love to be in that little group of teams above us, unfortunately we're not and we respect that. There's a lot of hard work to come from us between now and the end of the season.
"We're delighted with the fixtures we have remaining, especially the home games. We've got some great games against the teams near to us like Ipswich, like Bolton and like Millwall, so we feel that our destiny is in our own hands and as a manager I always think that is very important."
PC on Gary Roberts' new contract
"One of the most important things in football is your senior players. If I'm being truthful about Gary, we've probably seen him on the pitch a bit more than we all envisaged. It's not just the impact players have on the pitch, it's what they do in and around the club.
"When you get the calibre of player and someone who loves football and looks after themselves the way that Gary does, you know you've got the right type of player.
"This summer we lost a bit of that with Noel Hunt and David Perkins moving on and by the time we got into the beginning of the season, you could visually see the impact it had on the players that two strong senior characters had left.
"The importance is to get those senior characters right like we do with Gary, another year for him was a no-brainer.
"Gary's been outstanding this year. His goals against Blackburn and Aston Villa have been big goals for us. With the injuries to Gavin Massey and Michael Jacobs it was easy to slot him in because he's got the quality to play at this level.
"Age will catch up with everyone one day, but for me as a manager it's so important to have a happy environment and the way we have our training ground at the moment it fantastic.
"That chemistry off the pitch is so important. For every successful team there needs to be harmony."
PC on Ipswich Town
"The first thing I remember about the away game was how cold it was for the supporters, that's for sure!
"It wasn't a great game in any shape or form, but on reflection we didn't deserve to lose.
"I felt the game was heading for a 0-0 draw, but that's irrelevant because we lost and we have to put that right later down the line.
"Ipswich come to us in a tough position. If you look back at their game against Norwich they were the better team for a long period at 1-0 down.
"Ipswich carry a threat and they'll be coming to us desperate to win the game.
"It's a fantastic club steeped in history of producing good players and playing good football and Paul (Lambert) is in the process of sorting out whatever problems Ipswich might have. That's not for me to debate about, but certainly on the pitch they've had some bad luck. They've been in the majority of their games this season and they're rarely backs against the wall defending games."