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Dublin: 3°C Monday 19 April 2021

'I could see an upset' - Ex-League of Ireland boss on the brink of Wembley trip with giant-killing Wigan

A two-time FAI Cup winner with Sligo Rovers, Liverpudlian Paul Cook is involved in an FA Cup quarter-final this weekend.

Cook has done an excellent job at Wigan.
Cook has done an excellent job at Wigan.
Image: Getty Images

PAUL COOK IS potentially 90 minutes away from a trip to Wembley.

The former Sligo Rovers boss, who led the Bit O’Red to FAI Cup success in 2010 and 2011, has done a brilliant job with Wigan Athletic since taking over in the summer.

They had just been relegated to League One, but, under the guidance of 51-year-old Cook, the Latics are well in the hunt for automatic promotion straight back to the Championship, while they face Southampton the FA Cup quarter-final this Saturday.

Having already seen off Premier League champions-elect Manchester City, Bournemouth and West Ham, giant-killing Wigan won’t fear Premier League opposition at all.

The Saints, meanwhile, are managerless after sacking Argentine coach Mauricio Pellegrino on Monday.

Kevin Kilbane has seen plenty of his old club, and the pundit — who will be on duty at the DW Stadium on St Patrick’s Day — is backing them to progress.

I could see an upset,” said former Latics man Kilbane. “Whether the change at Southampton with Pellegrino going makes a difference, you can conceivably think they will get a bit of a kick and put in a different performance to what they have been showing.

“When you look at the [Wigan] performances against Bournemouth and West Ham and the games at the DW Stadium, they have got pedigree. In general, the Man City win was a different type of performance to how they played to beat Bournemouth and West Ham.

“I think they will be positive and I don’t see any reason why they can’t be. I actually do fancy them.”

Newcastle United v Southampton - Premier League Wigan play Shane Long's Southampton On Saturday. Source: Alex Livesey

Since leaving the League of Ireland in 2012, Cook has been enhancing his reputation during spells at Accrington Stanley, Chesterfield and Portsmouth.

After leading Pompey to the League Two title last season, he agreed to take the Wigan job and, last month, got the better of one of the finest manager’s in the world — Pep Guardiola.

Man City’s hopes of a clean sweep of trophies were dashed as they went down 1-0 to a late Will Grigg goal.

Kilbane likes what he has seen and says Cook has the potential to have success at the top level.

“I’ve spoken to lads who have worked under him and alongside him, and the one thing that I’ve noticed and heard is that he seems to be great at picking up lads who are low on confidence,” he added.

He’s great for team spirit around the club. Coaching-wise, you only need to see how he sets his sides up. They play excellent football when you’re watching Wigan play.

“The position he has got them in at the moment, and given the fact that he had to pick them back up after being relegated, you would have to say ‘Yes’ [he could become a top manager].

“The higher up you go, it’s about how you set your side up and coaching, but it’s also about getting into players’ heads and getting them feeling good about themselves. He has that little bit about him that he can make players feel good, and I really do think he does have a chance.”

The Affidea Rock ‘n’ Roll Dublin Half Marathon, was launched yesterday by former Ireland footballer Kevin Kilbane. This unique running event returns to the streets of Dublin on Sunday, 12 August 2018 for the sixth time. With four distances to choose from, bespoke “must have” medals, music acts at each mile and a finish line concert it has become an annual summertime running tradition offering; Music, Moments, Medals and Miles. To register for the event, go to

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Ben Blake

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