Paul Cook: The Master of Managing Expectations

Three games in six days for Wigan saw the Tics start with their worst display of the season thus far against Brentford at Griffin Park. It is still the only game to date where we have really been outplayed. This could have dented the newly promoted side’s confidence, particularly as many of that squad will remember being relegated from the championship not too long ago.

Back at home, though, things were firmly on track. A fairly poor Hull City display, and the timely recension of Sam Morsy’s red card, culminated in a comfortable 2-1 victory. This was then followed up by a Friday night date with promotion pushers Bristol City. The game was scrappy throughout and neither keeper was really tested, this could definitely have been due to tired legs on both sides. A Nick Powell Header, from a superb Josh Windass delivery ensured a hard fought 1-0 win and Wigan have manged to end the week sitting in the play-off places.

Following either defeat or victory, however, Paul Cook is a master at managing both expectation and disappointment and has been heard on a number of occasions, using the phrase, “disappointment is never far away in this league.” While this may not be exactly what fans want to hear after a result, it seems to work well in keeping the payers grounded and motivated.

This type of positive negativity (if that makes sense?) reminds me of the way in which Claudio Ranieri spoke throughout Leicester City’s Premier League winning season. Ranieri refused to accept that his team were title contenders until the later months of the season and thus did and excellent job of instilling an underdog mentality into his side.

Managing expectation is a difficult balance to find. Had performances so far not been so positive, Cook might be mistaken for being lacklustre and downbeat in interviews. Despite this, his passion on the touchline is there for all to see and after such a brilliant start to the season, fans are still finding themselves dreaming of back to back promotions. Although even I, the most positive of fans, would be cautious to start using the P word just yet, I’m just happy that it doesn’t look like we’re going to spend all season worrying about the R word. How Paul Cook of me.

Picture Credit: Wigan Athletic

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