Ex-Wolves midfielder Paul Cook admits he’s going through the toughest spell as a manager – but is convinced he and Wigan will come out the other side.
Wigan host West Brom on Wednesday night looking to move out of the Championship’s bottom three after eight games without a win. Goals are a problem, with Wigan the joint lowest scorers in the division with 18 and defender Cheyenne Duckley their top scorer with five.
And the 52-year-old Latics boss admits it’s been a real learning curve after a generally successful time in management to date.
Cook led Chesterfield and Portsmouth to the League Two title before guiding Wigan to win League One.
He guided Wigan to an 18th-placed finish last season and isn’t used to being in a struggle.
When asked whether it was the most difficult period as a manager, Cook replied: “Without a doubt…I’ve never had a spell like this. This is the longest spell I’ve had without a win, eight matches.
“And this has been the toughest campaign I’ve ever had – by far. But you do find out a lot about yourself at times like this.
“The reality for me, and other Wigan managers, coming up from League One is we’re good managers.
“Suddenly, in the Championship, we’re not good managers any more. We’re actually the same managers, but we’ve all stepped up a level.
“It’s football – and if you don’t think it can get any worse, it will.
“We are not looking for sympathy or anything like that. We are a Championship club, we had a good solid year last year and we are not doing as well this year. But there is plenty of time left.”
The Liverpudlian has former Wolves men Michael Jacobs and Nathan Byrne as regulars while ex-Wolf Charlie Mulgrew and Bright Enobakhare are on loan from Blackburn and Wolves respectively.
Enobakhare has only made two appearances off the bench in the Championship and none since August.
While some would be fearful of the visit of a West Brom side who look good bets to win promotion at the end of the year, Cook takes the opposite view.
“It is a great game,” he insisted. “Whenever you get the bigger teams in the division coming to your home ground then it is always a good game.
“We are desperately searching for points and this gives us our next opportunity to try to get some.
“There’s no such thing as a game you can’t win. It will be a very tough game, but one we can certainly win.”
Not that Cook isn’t an admirer of Slaven Bilic’s free-scoring Baggies.
“I was at the Hawthorns on Sunday, to watch them (beat Swansea 5-1), and they’re a pleasure to watch,” he added.
“They’re a good team and, when you have a good team, there’s square pegs in square holes as they, and round pegs in round holes.
“They handle the ball well, they carry a threat, and they don’t seem to give many goals away.
“All that usually equates to a good team, but that’s what you’d expect from a team of West Brom’s stature in this division.
“For us, it’s completely different to what we’re trying to achieve and do. If it’s a tough night for us, that’s how it is – but we’ve got to come through it.”