Cook Out

By Jim Bonner
Last updated : 31 May 2017

Wigan Athletic have confirmed that Paul Cook has signed a three-year-deal to be their manager as he leaves Portsmouth after a two season tenure at Fratton Park.

The way in which he (and undoubtedly his greedy agent) has orchestrated this move has understandably left a bitter taste in the mouths of Pompey fans having declared his loyalty to the club not so long ago.

His statement to the supporters about wanting to stay at Portsmouth but having to leave due to uncertainty about the takeover situation smells of bullshit, too. After all, it isn't that long since Michael Eisner tweeted a picture of them having a cosy meal and the American billionaire has publicly backed Cook on many occasions.

Paul has treated us like mugs with that statement as we all know the real reason he has gone and honestly, if he hadn't had come out with all of the loyalty bullshit previously and simply stated that Wigan's offer was too good to refuse from a purely financial point of view, most fans would have accepted that.

Instead, his refusal to accept Mark Catlin's best offer possible despite supposedly "wanting to stay" has earned him the ire of the vast majority of Pompey fans and if he thought the atmosphere at Fratton Park was hostile towards him after the defeat to Crewe, he will soon know what the crowd's fervour can really be like when he returns with the Latics next season.

It really is a shame that Cook's time at Pompey has come to an end in this manner. Delivering the League Two title had seen him win the vast majority of his critics over and he was a popular figure around town.

That popularity has now been lost along with the respect of the fans who were indebted to him for delivering one of the best moments in our football club's recent history. That achievement and those memories have now been soured by the move to Wigan.

If there are any Latics fans reading this, your club has paid Portsmouth compensation for a good manager.

Cook will have your team playing attractive, possession football and his preferred 4-2-3-1 formation means that the back four are well protected whilst the attacking midfield trio are free to attack and create chances for the lone striker.

Portsmouth's now ex-manager is also an excellent motivator. Rarely did Pompey lose more than a single consecutive game under his management and any bad performance was usually followed by a good one.

His record in the transfer market was mixed. He has the eye for a quality player as proved in his first season with the Blues as he virtually rebuilt a poor squad and moulded it into a good one with signings like Christian Burgess, Enda Stevens and Gareth Evans proving to be shrewd.

However, his second season saw him sign many players who either couldn't get into the team or had their stays abruptly ended by either having their contracts terminated or being shipped out on loan. Milan Lalkovic must be secretly delighted that Cook has gone.

The negatives of Cook's management is that whilst Plan A can work extremely well, he doesn't have a Plan B. His stubborn attitude meant he would rarely stray from his 4-2-3-1 formation and when he did, the results and performances were worse!

He also struggles to work out how to break down teams that will "park the bus" and play for a draw on home turf. Thus, you should prepare yourselves for grating post-match interview soundbytes such as "All credit to Shrewsbury, they're an excellent team and had a gameplan which stopped us scoring. We go again next week."

Whilst he may be good enough to get a squad of Wigan's quality back up to the Championship, there is a feeling amongst people that he isn't tactically smart enough or indeed professional enough to succeed at a higher level. Expect to see him around local Wigan boozers as next season progresses.

Cook also seems to struggle under pressure as he felt the heat with 16,000 expectant Pompey fans constantly scrutinising him as he occasionally lashed out at the media whilst having indirect digs at them. It'll be interesting to see if he manages to cope with crowds half that size at the DW Stadium although the expectation will be just as much.

In a nutshell, it should speak volumes that the reaction of Pompey fans is anger at the manner he left rather than any kind of sorrow that the event even took place. He's a good manager but there are arguably even better bosses that Portsmouth can attract to replace him.

With Cook now gone and Leam Richardson following, the question will be who else goes with him whether it be backroom staff or players he might covet. It's very important that Pompey try and tie down Christian Burgess and Kal Naismith to improved deals ASAP.

As for the immediate future, attention will now turn to who gets the chance to manage this fantastic football club on the rise. Cook may have played his part in that but his departure has, for now at least, ruined any legacy he may have had at Portsmouth.

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