Thursday 16 August 2018

Cook: We'll give it a go in bid to derail City machine

Wigan manager Paul Cook. Photo: Andrew Yates/Reuters
Wigan manager Paul Cook. Photo: Andrew Yates/Reuters

Mark Walker

Wigan manager Paul Cook does not rate his side's chances of knocking Manchester City's "well-oiled machine" out of the FA Cup tomorrow night.

But the straight-talking former Sligo boss, who feels that Pep Guardiola's side stand on the verge of greatness, promised that his players will fight fire with fire in their fifth-round tie at the DW Stadium.

"Will we upset them on the night? Percentage-wise, very small. But will we give it a go? Of course we will," Cook said. "We're not going to sit off them. We're genuinely not going to sit back, it's not our thing. Why would we want to sit back and wait for them to open us up? We've got to try and affect the game."

The Latics, who have beaten Bournemouth and West Ham on their way to the last 16, pulled off an almighty upset at Wembley in 2013 to beat City in the final, and dumped them out of the competition the following season to reach the semi-finals. But Cook, bidding to lead the Latics straight back to the Championship in his first season in charge, said the City side moulded by Guardiola is an altogether different proposition.

"I don't think you can heap enough superlatives on them. Now it's a case of everyone acknowledging exactly what they are, which is a proper well-oiled machine," he said.

"When you look at the Premier League now, Tottenham are an absolutely fantastic team, Man United are probably going through an indifferent spell, albeit in a good league position. Liverpool have had some fantastic results, Chelsea are probably going through an indifferent time . . . Man City lie 16 points clear after 27 games.

"The record is phenomenal. No-one can put enough plaudits on them at the minute because they haven't been successful. But anyone who doesn't think they're about to be successful is very foolish."

Wigan's promotion charge has been checked with back-to-back defeats for the first time under Cook. While City were brushing Basel aside in the Champions League on Tuesday night, the Latics followed up Saturday's first league defeat in 17 matches at Southend by losing at home to Blackpool.

Cook, who insisted those setbacks had nothing to do with City's pending Cup visit, said it does not matter which tactics rival managers adopt to try and counter Guardiola's side.

"Whatever you try and do to them, Man City have a way of finding a way to do whatever they want to teams," added the former Chesterfield and Portsmouth manager. "For us, it's how many minutes in the game can we make it uncomfortable for them. And then when we have those moments, can we score?

"If we can, it could lead to being a great night for us, when everything can go our way. If it's not, like other teams have found out quite quickly, it can become very uncomfortable."

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